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The Accounting Industry and AI

Why You Still Need an Accountant

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a phrase that is heard regularly in our technologically advanced world. Whether you are working in tech, accounting, health, or any other industry, you have likely heard all about it by now. That’s because while AI has been around for some time, organizations are just recently starting to explore how it can benefit them in their own industries. The ability to streamline work and create a more efficient and profitable workforce is one of the primary reasons organizations are incorporating AI into day-to-day operations, including finance.

The chatter surrounding AI often includes considering if it is here to stay, and if so, what that means for accountants. Some fear this innovation, concerned that it may take over certain tasks, and later, take over their roles all together. Yet, no matter how efficient AI has made some operations, it still lacks the most important part of being an accountant—the ability of human emotion, connection, trust, and understanding.

AI in Accounting

AI in accounting—from automated data entry to categorization and predictive analytics—has increased significantly over the past year. In fact, Intuit, one of the largest financial software companies in the world, has begun to use its own Intuit Proprietary Generative AI Operating System (GenOS). According to their website, “Intuit Assist was developed using the company’s proprietary GenOS to design their own financial large language models (LLMs) that are fine-tuned to solve tax, accounting, cash flow and personal finances.”

Clearly, AI has begun to transform the accounting industry (and many other industries) in countless ways. It has freed up time for accountants, minimized errors, maximized efficiency, and reduced labor costs. As with anything though, there is always another side to the coin. While AI can be an effective tool for many organizations, it’s important to remember that there are numerous limitations to what it can do compared to an actual accountant. For starters, despite common misconceptions, accounting is not solely about numbers. So much more goes along with it. Accountants provide the guidance, support, and overall sense of discretion and context needed when making important financial decisions.

An article written by Hitendra R. Patil, the president of Global F&A Outsourcing Services: Datamatics Business Solutions listed that accounting demands knowledge of business operations and strategies. AI may be able to generate financial statements in a moment, but it can’t provide, “strategic advice or make judgements about the direction of a business. Sure, ChatGPT can give some great answers, but that requires one to be an expert to ask the most accurate and relevant questions and then be able to interpret the answers.”

Why the Human Touch in Accounting is Essential

The ability to have discernment, make educated judgments, and understand goals, principles, and standards can only come from human interaction. For business owners with too much on their plates and CFOs who are stretched too thin, they need someone who can empathize. They need someone to look at the bigger picture to truly help them understand why certain financial anomalies are occurring and to guide them in the direction in which they need to go.

Here are three other ways an accountant will never be replaced by technology –

Client Relationship and Trust

It should go without saying that accountants are provided with a deep dive into their clients’ lives. They know all (or most of) the ins and outs of their personal and/or organization’s financial health and the reasons for their successes, failures, and strategies. How else can they provide the best financial guidance moving forward? Individuals must inherently trust their accountants to make these appropriate decisions, flag any concerns, and provide clear communication. And being able to provide personalized and compassionate care strengthens that trust, going a long way in building a collaborative, mutually respectful relationship.

Navigating Regulatory Changes

Could AI technically handle the regulatory changes that we see often within the financial and accounting world? Of course. However, the ability to help navigate clients through their questions and explain why situations are occurring is something AI cannot do. When an individual has questions as to why tax laws or regulations are changing and how those changes impact them, they want an accountant they can trust to walk them through the answers. Being able to efficiently and clearly explain new laws and regulations is extremely important to their overall financial health.

Ethical Decision Making

The accounting path can be filled with ethical dilemmas—two-party transactions, conflicts of interest, inaccurate reporting, and confidentiality breaches are just a few that can plague individuals and organizations. While an accountant has the ability to see these issues and communicate them efficiently, AI is limited to the numbers. It does not have the ability to understand that there was a conflict of interest or a breach of confidentiality since it is only designed to intake information and generate a report or programmed replies.

Accountants are simply held to a higher standard—one that technology, no matter how advanced, cannot compete with. While accounting may be summarized as a study of numbers, it is much more than that. It is about the relationships and the ability to determine the best course of action financially—an ability that can only come with human connection and trust.

At Agile Planners, we provide strategic guidance and outsourced CFO services to companies of all sizes. We can help provide the strategy your organization needs for the growth you want. We understand that no two organizations are the same. And with our experience and financial knowledge, we can help develop the right strategic plan for your business to grow and reach its goals. Simply, we’ll be your trusted partner, so you can focus on running your organization. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.


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