"The accounting firm that will be replaced by AI is the one that doesn't use it."
— AICPA President, at AICPA Engage 2023 thought leader dinner
In the fast-paced world of public accounting, efficiency is paramount. With the ever-increasing complexity in tax codes, financial regulations, and client demands, accounting firms are constantly seeking innovative solutions. One such solution is ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot that can significantly enhance the operations of an accounting firm.
In this article, we will explore the ways in which accounting firms can leverage ChatGPT, as well as the precautions needed to protect sensitive data.
Sign up for ChatGPT-4
To begin with, you need to sign up for ChatGPT by visiting OpenAI's website at openai.com. Version 3.5 is free, or choose the $20 per month subscription plan, which unlocks GPT-4 (the most advanced version of Chat-GPT) and advanced features such as plugins for live web searches, interaction with PDF documents, and more.
There are so many practical ways to use Chat-GPT. Anything that is written can be interpreted, analyzed, summarized, edited, or refined in unimaginable ways. Here are some practical ideas:
12 Ways to leverage ChatGPT in your firm
1. Simplifying Technical Language
ChatGPT-4 can translate technical documents such as tax laws, AICPA letters, and attorney letters into simpler summaries. This is invaluable for communicating complex information to clients who may not have a background in accounting.
How to: Copy and paste the text in. There may be a word limit, so you can break it up into sections.
Prompt: "I’m going to paste an [article] that I want you to summarize below. There are two sections I will paste. Then I will tell you to summarize it for me as a tax advisor."
2. Creating Client Emails and Letters
Convert the knowledge you gain into informative client letters. Discuss the impact of AI, summarize bills, and explain how these developments can affect their business.
How to: Ask ChatGPT to draft a letter or email based on the information you provide. (It can even be (non sensitive) questions the client sent you to help respond quickly!)
Prompt: "Please draft a letter to my client explaining the implications of the new tax bill on their small business."
Or “Respond to this question a client emailed me, their tax advisor, with an intro to like-kind exchanges and recommending a paid tax planning consultation to see if it fits for them (and provide my e-calendar XZY): Client: “I just heard about a like-kind exchange. Would it work for me?”
3. Social Media Posts
Use ChatGPT to craft engaging social media posts complete with emojis and catchy phrases. Humor: optional :)
How to: Provide ChatGPT with the topic and ask it to create a social media post.
Prompt: "Create an engaging social media post about the importance of tax planning for small businesses, and add emojis. Create a CTA for them to schedule a consult with me for year end tax planning."
4. Tax Planning Research
Ask ChatGPT-specific tax-related questions. ChatGPT can help compare different business entity types and suggest the best option for your clients.
How to: Pose specific tax-related questions to ChatGPT.
Prompt: "Can a client qualify for a like-kind exchange based on sale and purchase dates?" Or “What info do you need to calculate the tax deferral on a like-kind exchange?” or "Compare the tax implications of an S-Corp vs. a Schedule C if someone is netting 50K taxable income.”
5. PowerPoint Presentations
Use ChatGPT to create outlines and full scripts for PowerPoint presentations.
How to: Provide ChatGPT with the topic and ask it to create an outline, then have it script out each slide. Use a plug-in to put the slides together!
Prompt: "Create an outline for a presentation on the impact of AI in accounting." Followed by: “Write the script for slide 1, then slide 2, etc”
6. Bookkeeping Assistance
Paste bookkeeping transactions into ChatGPT and ask it to categorize them. You can even give it a format or guidelines.
How to: Copy and paste bookkeeping transactions into ChatGPT.
Prompt: "Categorize the following transactions for bookkeeping purposes: [paste transactions]."
7. Leadership and management
ChatGPT can assist in leadership activities like how to start using a new management process.
How to: Ask ChatGPT for advice or guidance on leadership or process development.
Prompt: “Write out an overview of the EOS (entrepreneurial ownership system) for my team at my accounting firm and the steps we need to take to set it up initially, including reading the book "Traction.”
8. Fun and Personalization
Personalize ChatGPT's responses by instructing it to use different writing styles or tones.
How to: Give ChatGPT specific instructions on the tone or style you want it to use.
Prompt: "Write a motivational message for my team in the style of Winston Churchill."
9. Cost Comparisons
Use ChatGPT to calculate and compare costs for team trips or other expenses.
How to: Input the data for costs you want to compare and ask ChatGPT to analyze them.
Prompt: "Compare the costs of a team trip to New York vs. Los Angeles, including flights, hotels, and meals."
10. Workflow Checklists
Create workflow checklists such as client onboarding processes or standard operating procedures.
How to: Provide ChatGPT with the general steps you need to take and ask it to create a checklist.
Prompt: "Create a checklist for onboarding a new tax client." Or "Help me develop a standard operating procedure for managing client tax documents."
11. E-Books for Clients
Write e-books on topics like "Top 5 Tax Tips for Real Estate Owners" for clients or potential clients.
How to: Provide ChatGPT with the topic and ask it to draft an e-book.
Prompt: "Write an e-book on 'Top 5 Tax Tips for Real Estate Owners'."
12. Book Summaries
Get summaries of your favorite books or apply their concepts to your industry.
How to: Provide ChatGPT with the title of the book and ask for a summary.
Prompt: "Summarize the book 'The Lean Startup' and discuss how its principles can be applied to an accounting firm."
Warnings and Precautions
While ChatGPT is an asset, it is crucial to exercise caution, particularly when dealing with sensitive data.
Data Sensitivity: Never use ChatGPT to process or store sensitive client information such as Social Security numbers or bank account details. The AI doesn't have the capability to store data, but it's best to avoid any potential data security issues.
Accuracy and Verification: While ChatGPT can provide information quickly, it's essential to verify the accuracy of the information, especially when it comes to legal or financial matters. The AI is not infallible and should not replace due diligence.
As of October 2023, it was just updated from a knowledge cutoff date of September 2021 to January 2022! In addition, there are now around 1,000 plug-ins. Some of my favorites are:
Advanced data analysis Tool
Browse with Bing (albeit, slow)
ChatGPT can be a game-changer for accounting firms looking to streamline operations and improve efficiency while also being really entertaining and fun for your culture. However, it’s essential to use this technology responsibly, especially concerning sensitive client data and compliance with legal standards as we wait for government regulations. By integrating ChatGPT into your workflow judiciously, you can harness the benefits while mitigating the risks. Join a Facebook community like Accounting Firm Influencers or #TaxTwitter to exchange more tips!