A Sizable Portion of Accountants See No Use Case for AI

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David Leary: [00:00:04] Diagnosing and treating disease for your loved one. 15% said that, but matching it with a romantic partner, only 9% trust it for that. So people trust AI to diagnose a disease more than possibly picking out a romantic partner. Coming to you weekly from the OnPay Recording Studio.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:24] Hello and welcome back to the show. I'm Blake Oliver.

David Leary: [00:00:27] And I'm David Leary. And really, it's a welcome back for you. You took a week off of work, Blake.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:32] I did, I, uh, I went to Disney World with the family, which it's debatable whether or not going to Disney World is a vacation, depending on your point of view. Uh, I definitely think that, like, my regular day to day is more relaxing than Disney World. We were there. We were there during spring break, which is maximum. Yeah, maximum. People park's at capacity. Uh, the Orlando airport is just a mess. They can't they can't handle all the baggage. I mean, I imagine they're short staffed, just like everybody. So everything went well, though? Uh, four parks in five days, I, I it was like walking through Times Square for, for five days. I was so exhausted. Yeah. Well, what was here's what's crazy about this, David, is that, you know, I've been I've been getting a lot more exercise ever since I moved to Arizona from, uh, California. And I spent a lot of time outside. Right. We have good weather here, uh, most of the year. And so I was looking at my Apple Watch and I'm thinking, oh, I'm going to get lots of exercise at Disney World. I'm going to hit my move goal every day. And I did not. So I'm walking around for miles and miles 12 hours a day and I'm not hitting my move goal. And I'm thinking to myself, this is weird, right? Uh, but it's gone up since I moved here over the last few years, and and that got me thinking about, like, the way that we track productivity in accounting, which is ours mostly. Most firms. Still, even if they value price, they still track productivity in terms of hours on a time sheet. And those who bill the most hours are considered the most productive. I've always had a hard time with that, and I see an analogy. I see a comparison to my Disney World experience, which is I was spending 12 hours a day walking around.

David Leary: [00:02:29] Lots of time, lots of time.

Blake Oliver: [00:02:31] Lots of time.

David Leary: [00:02:31] Not that 12 hour a day time sheet. Okay, I'm following you.

Blake Oliver: [00:02:34] And I was exhausted at the end of every day. I was just wiped out. But when I actually looked at what I had achieved my outputs, I had not gotten nearly as many active calories as I normally do. So it's not about the time. In two hours of exercising here at home, I get way more exercise than in 12 hours a day at Disney World, and I'm less tired. I'm less exhausted because it's it's the quality of the exercise that you are getting. So that is that is my my takeaway.

David Leary: [00:03:13] It's well, you've argued this a lot in the past that it's not how many hours and that, but now you have a, a whole nother story and uh, an analogy to prove it right. Like, yeah, there's a whole you could write a blog post. This could be your Ted talk. Like this could be your you. This could be a talk at a conference. Yeah, I could see this.

Blake Oliver: [00:03:32] Well, it's very appropriate. We're talking about this because we are in the heart of busy season, especially for tax preparers. And, um, you know, it's mid-March. We've made it past the March 15th deadline. Now we're heading to the April 15th one. And just go on X and you will see, uh, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. You will you will just find accountants who have had it up to here with their clients who are working insane hours, who are just wrecking themselves and. I just have to go here on the record and say that this is wrong. It is wrong for accountants to be working so much. It is not healthy. There's a reason in this country that we have a 40 hour workweek. You know, the history of that is it was established to protect factory workers, you know, from working too much. Yeah. And, uh, you know, because people used to work seven days a week before we got these labor protections. But for some reason, they don't apply to people who sit at desks. But just because you sit at a desk doesn't mean that overwork isn't bad for you. It's like mentally unhealthy. It's physically unhealthy. It's deadly. It shortens your lifespan. Uh, we got to put an end to this as a profession. It's just completely unacceptable that accounting is exempted from overtime protections and that we normalize in our profession, working 60, 70 hours a week to the point where when I talk to partners about this, like older partners, retired partners about the overwork, it's it's almost in their minds, like.

Blake Oliver: [00:05:10] Part of the job. It's impossible to separate that from accounting like we're a deadline driven profession. That's what I keep hearing. So we got to meet the deadlines and therefore we got to work the hours. It's not even possible in their minds to change this. And that's just. It's not true. It's completely false. And all the technology that is coming into the profession now is making it possible to do all the stuff that we normally do and not work the crazy hours. But it's this mindset, you know, it's this billable hours time sheets mindset. And we we got to get we got to put an end to it. And if we want to attract people into the profession David, you know the number one thing that turns them away is these long hours and low pay. So, you know, the one thing that we can address is the long hours. Definitely firms can do that. And I wish that the AICPA would focus on that with firms is get the big firms to stop overworking their staff.

David Leary: [00:06:09] Yeah. Because there's there's all this coaching and leadership around. Oh, you should add ESG services to your firm. You should do this with your firm, all these things. But it's never roll out a less hours worked policy in your it's very simple.

Blake Oliver: [00:06:21] It's very simple. Hire more staff so that you can work them less, work them normal hours, healthy hours and incentivize them based on their outputs, not their inputs. Uh, but. The leaders in our profession do not want to do that one because they grew up in this mindset of inputs equals productivity, so they can't see another way. And also the the structure of these firms is such that to change this is very difficult. And who runs the AICPA. You look at the leadership on the what do they call it, the council. There's like a few hundred people, the Congress of the AICPA. It's all people who are, you know, high up in firms. And educators. And representatives from like state boards. It's all people who are invested in the current business model. So they don't want to change it. So they don't want to look at the one thing that would really make a difference in accounting, which is. Stop working staff, managers, directors, even junior partners. The partners are just as much subject to this also because in big firms they have no control. If you're a junior partner, you can't set your hours. You're subject to the same system as everybody else, right? So yeah, that would do it.

David Leary: [00:07:39] So I'm going to push you off your soapbox a little bit here, because I feel like some of the stories I brought will maybe, possibly help you solve the soapbox you're standing on. There's some solutions possibly here. And then also some one of my articles reinforces the point in argument you're making. Possibly, uh, what else kind of high level articles do you have kind of going on?

Blake Oliver: [00:07:59] Well, there's let's see the Grant Thornton private equity deal. That's a big one. We now have a private equity firm that owns more than half of one of the largest accounting firms in the country. We've got remote work. My wife is getting called back to the office. She works for a fortune. Uh, what are they? Their fortune. 50, for sure. Um, company. And she's going to have to work 51% of the time in the office. 51. So, yeah, she's not happy about it at all. What do you got?

David Leary: [00:08:31] I'll just jump into this story here, because I think it really ties in with, you know, the working 12 hour days. Well, in October. So this was an article that was in entrepreneur magazine in October, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan. So last October, he predicted that, uh, the next generation would only be working three and a half days a week because of AI. Uh, right. Yeah. Well, in the in now, I'm thinking when he said that he maybe should have said in the next year, not the next generation. And here's why. So they have a team of about 300 data scientists, data engineers and some other employees that a year ago built and launched their new free cash flow intelligence AI tool. Right. Um, about 2500 corporate enterprise clients are now using this tool, and they've cut human manual work. So you want to care to guess how much they've cut it by?

Blake Oliver: [00:09:25] Well, I'm guessing at least 20%.

David Leary: [00:09:29] 90%.

Blake Oliver: [00:09:32] What kind of work are we talking about?

David Leary: [00:09:34] So this is a cash flow intelligence AI tool that JP Morgan Chase has released and has cut human work by 90%. Treasury management, you know, moving money around between accounts. Right. That type of work uh, in internal teams controllers. Right. Have to do that work. It's so successful that they're actually starting to think about charging for this tool, which would make sense if you can have one person do the job of nine, they could charge as much as it costs to hire one extra person in a company. Still going to be happy paying for, you know that.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:05] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

David Leary: [00:10:06] And on a related note, Bank of America and I gave you a video link to play it. They also have a free cash, uh, forecasting tool called Cash Pro forecasting. Um, JP morgan's video doesn't have it didn't make sense to play on the podcast, but this video might actually make sense to play. And then I have a question like when after this is done playing okay.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:25] So let's let's see if we can play this two minute video here.

Bank of America Clip: [00:10:30] What if numbers crunched themselves? Ooh. Cash Pro forecasting from Bank of America is a groundbreaking solution that can amplify your Treasury intelligence and anticipate your liquidity needs. Powered by machine learning, Cash Pro forecasting automates your predictive analytics and boosts your insight into future cash flows, outperforming spreadsheets and other primitive tools with a new solution that grows smarter over time as it learns from your account activity. Best of all, Cash Pro forecasting is already integrated within Cash Pro, so it's easy to set up and use as the first cash forecasting solution with machine learning offered by a bank. It's available for all of your accounts and can even integrate with those held at other institutions. Here's how it works. Just log in to Cash Pro reporting. Cash Pro forecasting automatically inherits all of your account data and entitlements so you're ready to start. No integration or onboarding is needed, just log in and start using it. You can create forecasts across your accounts with the ability to drill down to transaction level details. You can also create rules to automatically map your transactions into custom categories such as payroll, collections, or taxes, and break out your cash flows by currency. You can forecast by days, weeks, or months from one day up to one year into the future. You can complete a new forecast within minutes and save as many different forecasts as you like, and you can manually enter transactions that haven't yet hit your accounts to make your forecasts even stronger. Cash Pro forecasting is intuitive, user friendly, and designed to deliver the data driven insight you need to make better decisions. And it's part of how we're working every day to put your business at the edge of what's next.

Blake Oliver: [00:12:32] All right. And then the rest of the video is just marketing. But I wish they would show what it actually looks like. They never show screenshots.

David Leary: [00:12:38] They have simulated screenshots lower on the page. And I think JP Morgan Chase did as well. But they're not. Yeah, but maybe the JP Morgan Chase one had theirs. So my real question is I'm trying to grasp why are the banks building this and giving it away for free? Is it just so that way they can sell you a loan product when your cash flow is low? Like what? What's the end game here? Do you? What are your thoughts?

Blake Oliver: [00:12:59] Well, just thinking back to my time running an outsourced accounting practice, the most valuable service I provided to my clients on a day to day, week to week basis was cash flow forecasting. Very simple, short term, helping them make sure that they didn't bounce the payroll. You know, uh, making sure that they paid their bills on time and, and just monitoring where all the money was. And that's something that's like stressful for a business owner. So if the banks can do this in their platform, they will create a lot of value for their customers. And people will want to deposit money there. And the more money you have at a bank, the more money that bank makes, right?

David Leary: [00:13:37] Because ultimately, I think some level banks are commodity. So there's like a value add service to differentiate you from using. The, you know, the community bank. Let's just say now.

Blake Oliver: [00:13:49] What's really interesting about this is that we have seen attempts from both QuickBooks and Xero and many other platforms to try to build this kind of functionality, and they have all failed. I have not found a single one that can do it in a streamlined way that is accurate and reliable. And so if the banks do it, I'd be surprised. Um, you know, for me, the issue with this cash flow forecasting in the past has always been that, you know, the history doesn't guarantee the future. So so you have to actually know what is coming up. And there's no way that the bank just knows that or that the accounting software just knows that. Sure, they can predict based on what you've done in the past, but businesses are always changing, right? Um, so being able to put in those future transactions. Like. I think it all depends on how easy it is to do that and how likely people are to do that. I always did it well, actually. It's funny, for a long time I did it in Bill.com. They had this cash flow forecast tool that was actually really bad. They never invested in it, but it was really easy to add upcoming transactions, either deposits or debits. And you can then see a very quick forecast over like 14 days or longer if you wanted. And it would show all of the money going out based on the bills you'd scheduled. So I would basically put in for most clients, it would be like, here's your payroll. And I would I would put in those withdrawals, right. Those, those ACH pulls um, in every two weeks for the next two months. And then I would have all the bills automatically scheduled there because Bill.com would pull that from Bill.com. Uh, and then, uh, you know, update the current balance screenshot that send that chart to the client via email. Very simple. We just do it once a week, right? It needs to be easy.

David Leary: [00:15:35] I imagine it's easier with big, huge fortune 500 companies because their revenue is a little bit more predictable. But if you're a small business, I might lose this client here. I might be selling a client two months from now, but maybe by the time I land them and I get the invoice like it'd be four months from now, it could be very, very hard projecting revenue. I think for the the smaller the entity, it's not as stable.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:58] Yeah. So you know we will see. But I think the I right. If they integrate actual, you know, generative AI into these products it could make this a lot more useful.

David Leary: [00:16:10] You want to stay on, I do you want to jump around?

Blake Oliver: [00:16:14] I want to welcome our live stream. Viewers, welcome to the live stream. Boring accountant says AICPA should lobby states to remove overtime exemption status for accountants a CPA I know recently got tennis elbow from too much office work. Working unlimited hours has negative health effects 100% boring accountant I agree that would be the best thing that AICPA could do to solve the talent crisis in our profession. Gen Z doesn't have to work overtime, they don't want to work overtime. And I have a story on that, David. So let's let's get back to. I. I want to jump over to this story about like how much people actually want to work. Where it is. It was a Wall Street Journal story. Work is less important to Americans than it used to be. This is from the Wall Street Journal. The gist of the story is that the significance of work in the lives of Americans has decreased, with individuals seeking more time for personal activities and flexibility in their work schedules. We all experience this. I think many of us experienced this during Covid where we got to reconnect with our families, we got to work from home and we realized, oh, we actually really like this. We like not commuting to the office for two hours a day, like I used to do in Los Angeles.

David Leary: [00:17:39] You've replaced that with exercise.

Blake Oliver: [00:17:41] I've replaced. So now instead of two hours in my car, I'm spending actually this week I'm going to do two. I'm on track to do two hours of actual exercise per day. It has changed my life. I feel so much better, I feel younger, I feel healthier, I feel mentally fit. I'm sleeping well. It's fantastic. If you're if you're not happy with your life, just go get more exercise. And I think that will probably solve a lot of your problems, and maybe it'll put you in the right mind state to fix the other ones that aren't, you know, physical. Um. I forgot where I was going with that, but I think the idea was that, you know, people have been working at home and they don't want to work so much anymore. Um, it's not limited to younger generations. Oh, and here's the stat there's a survey The Wall Street Journal talks about in this article. The survey showed a decrease in the number of people who consider their job very important to their identity, from 24% in 2017 to only 17% in 2021. So think about that. 27% of people consider their job very important to their identity, and that's only 17% now. Less than 1 in 5 Americans. That's a big cultural shift, right? We have always been a work hard. Country. Not even play hard, really. Just like work hard kind of country. If you look at like, cultures around the world. Right. And the fact that only 1 in 5 Americans are now thinking that way, where your work is your identity. Um, that's going to be a big shift. And this is why accounting can't attract people into the profession.

David Leary: [00:19:22] Because accounting is a big percentage of that 1 in 5 possibly.

Blake Oliver: [00:19:27] Could be. Yeah, I think so. Right. Um, and so, you know, this is having a big impact on the economy. People don't want to work as much. Right. So 40% of small businesses now have at least one unfilled opening.

David Leary: [00:19:41] I really struggle with this. This is being somebody who I, I. Probably. If I think about all the things in my life, I've always been really good at work and so my identity is really tied to work. I am one of those five for sure, there's no doubt. But I also look I'm like, okay, so the other 20 percenters, it's not. If that many people's identity is not tied to work, well then are you doing something else to contribute to the grandiose society? Right. No, they're just taking the time and just watching TikTok. Right. It's not like they're they're like, I'm going to work less, and I want to be less associated with work because I'm going to improve the world. Like, I just it's I just find it very fascinating. Like, what else are you going to do? Like, we're on the planet kind of to work like Ron David.

Blake Oliver: [00:20:29] That's wrong. Well, I mean, that's that's the old mindset. Mindset, right? You know, do you live to work or do you work to live? Yes, is the question.

David Leary: [00:20:38] And when I say work, it's creation, right? Yeah. The work of creating stuff.

Blake Oliver: [00:20:43] Look, I've gone through, uh, I've gone through the same like this, this shift myself over the last decade. Uh, I was you should have seen me in high school, David. I was intolerable, okay? I was, like, careerist at the age of 14, right? I'm gonna I'm going to go to an elite university, and I'm going to go. I wanted to go into politics. Can you imagine me, David? Like I was a it was just been horrible. Like I was one of those people. Um, and that was the only thing that was important to me. Like, I didn't prioritize friendships or family or hobbies, really anything. And, you know, then I went into music and I kind of did the same thing, right? I got disillusioned. With. One thing. So I got sucked into this other thing, which was just my entire life. Like, that's all I did was my career pursuit. And, uh, I think the best thing that ever happened to me was just, like, giving up on that and and realizing that work is important. I love my work. I love what we do at earmark. I love doing this podcast, but it's a piece of who I am. And it's not the most important thing either. I don't prioritize it anymore. Sorry. Sorry, David, but I prioritize my family and my physical health, and I've never been more happy. Um, and I think we need to do that as a culture. I'm not afraid to say that. And, you know, if you've got some, like, audit partner, if you're listening to this, watching this show, and you've got some partner in a big firm telling you, uh, that you need to, like, skip your, uh, sister's wedding because of this big, you know, engagement that has to get done, which actually happened to somebody.

Blake Oliver: [00:22:29] I know you're in the wrong place, right? Those people have messed up priorities, and you can see it. They're not happy, right? I when was the last time you saw a Big Four partner on social media or anywhere? Talking about how great life is and believed it, right? They don't exist, you know, and that's crazy, is I just saw I just saw a report about how these, these partners at big firms are making, like $800,000 a year on average. But they're miserable, as far as I can tell. Or they're hiding in holes somewhere. I mean, I don't know, it's it's. I'd love to meet one, actually. Hey, if you're listening and, you know, a happy big firm partner, I would love to have them on the show and talk to them about it. But I feel like it's hard to be happy even when you're making that money, if you're working those kind of hours. Well, we've stimulated a lot of conversation in the chat here. It's hard to accept and be excited with all this technology, while also trying to stay on top of your day job and other work responsibilities. That's David. Yes. And this is the problem with tech and firms is when you are overworked, when the heck are you going to innovate? It's impossible. I tried doing that. I was a manager at a firm that actually gave me, I don't know, 10% of my time to dedicate to innovation, but you can't innovate in 10% of your time.

David Leary: [00:23:55] You cannot do it.

Blake Oliver: [00:23:57] It's impossible. Uh, Maria says as an assistant controller, I was asked to work longer on a Friday when I told my manager that I would modify my schedule for this, he said it was expected that I would be working 50 to 55 hours. Don't do it. There's plenty of work at firms that small firms that will not make you work that hard. There's even bigger firms. Your part time controller. Uh, great example of a top 100 firm that not only doesn't overwork its staff, you can work however many days you want, like part time schedules and, uh, you don't. I think you you get paid for the hours you work, so you make less money, right? But it's not like, uh, there's a disincentive to do this, or they they look, they frown upon it. They want you to be able to have a part time schedule. Um, boring accountant said a Gen Z auditor I casually talked to was laid off at KPMG. After two years, she decided to quit the profession, talking to her off and on again for one year. I could see she was slowly getting ready to leave. Mhm. I've got some stats about that too, David, but I'll let you take the next story.

David Leary: [00:25:06] I'm going to paste in the chat. Well, and because I don't I really didn't cover the story, but I saw the article. It was in the Journal of Accountancy, and it was an article talking about how firms find that it's cool to be kind. And it focuses on three firms that basically have, uh, kindness initiatives with their employees. Like, for example, one lets their staff work from anywhere, right? Um, another one.

Blake Oliver: [00:25:31] So, so generous. Yeah.

David Leary: [00:25:33] Another one. Um, they, uh.

Blake Oliver: [00:25:37] Sorry. I'm in a mood today. David. You can. No, no no, no.

David Leary: [00:25:41] And and they want, you know, they want everybody. There's the one that they really they're they have a true kindness initiative. They want the employees to encourage, uh, encourage kindness between each other. And but what's happening is these firms that are they've mentally chosen to take this direction with their firms. They have better retention. It's easier to hire. So these there's firms are out there. So I pasted that link in and it'll be in the show notes to Deep dive in that more. But I do want to talk about um, the Accounting Today survey, the eye survey when you're ready for that. Oh yeah, I.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:11] Do, but I want to I want to before we do that though, um, I have I have a stat that follows on that. Gratitude is better than a pay raise for 55% of US workers, survey finds. Is that what you were talking about? Is this the same study because you pasted a Journal of Accountancy link?

David Leary: [00:26:27] This was, uh, not a study. This was an article. Like almost like a yeah, more of a news article, blog post.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:34] So CPA Practice Advisor published this one poll, did a study that found that 55% of American workers preferred personalized appreciation in the workplace over a pay raise. 52% said they want gratitude. Over a pay raise or a promotion.

David Leary: [00:26:53] I've seen that. I remember.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:55] So, so like.

David Leary: [00:26:56] In my career.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:57] You don't even have to raise the pay in your firm if you want to keep people. You just have to like, express a gratitude to them.

David Leary: [00:27:05] You just have to get Microsoft Publisher and print out little certificates that they hang in their cube. And because people are into that, like, look at I got 12 certificates hanging in my cube and you don't have to pay them more as a firm. And people were very excited and happy that they were recognized.

Blake Oliver: [00:27:19] All right. Let's get to this AI survey you're talking about David.

David Leary: [00:27:23] Yeah. So the this I'll share my screen. So first off the title is just huge. So this was an Accounting Today. And this came out in the last 2 or 3 days. It's a brand new survey. So the title of the survey is Unleashing the Power of AI in accounting. Accounting is reluctant AI Revolution Understanding the Power of AI holds. Accountants cautiously embraced the new technology that may disrupt their industry. Just a super, super long, uh, geez, uh, survey. But the key findings were pretty interesting. So they do expect in the next 3 to 5 years, you know, AI is going to change the jobs they do, right? They think it's going to increase some opportunities and create jobs, but a sizable proportion still see no use for AI either in their personal or professional lives.

Blake Oliver: [00:28:11] Right? Yeah.

David Leary: [00:28:12] Um, a lot think AI is advancing too quickly. And that goes to the comment from about keeping up with technology that we just had in the the thread from a viewer, a live viewer, um, and most are not really using it at all and have no plans to use generative AI in the future.

Blake Oliver: [00:28:29] When you say most like, do they give numbers here?

David Leary: [00:28:32] They do. Um, they do have a little a little bit of numbers we'll get into. And they do have awareness. You know what AI's people are aware of that are out there.

Blake Oliver: [00:28:40] Because I'm curious when they say sizable portion that see no use case for AI. What is that portion?

David Leary: [00:28:48] I it's funny because they have that conclusion, but there's no graph that really says it. But it feels like 17 to 20% is my gut looking at some of these graphs that maybe there's always like that portion of every question that you could tell it just don't see the value.

Blake Oliver: [00:29:04] So 25% of CPA firm partners are over the age of 60. So could there be some overlap between those folks and, uh, the ones who say that AI has no use case?

David Leary: [00:29:16] Yeah. So they did this survey recent. It was January of 2024 and it was 226. Accounting professionals responded. Uh, the way the profiles break down, 69% were CPA firms, 14% were non CPA accounting firms. And tax firms only like exclusive tax firms were 14%. Um, the bell curve of size there was 25% were one employee, 31% 2 to 9, 27%, one or 10 to 99, and then 17% 100 plus. So I feel like that's a pretty good distribution of the types of firms and sizes they were at. Um, so we can kind of jump in. So the prediction like right now people only think about 8% think a lot of their job can be done by AI. But in 3 to 5 years, almost 47% think their job can be done by AI. Some parts of their job, some percentage of it. Right. Which is a big chunk. So. So in today's world, maybe 8% of my job could be done by AI 3 to 5 years from now. A lot of these, uh, accountants think 40, 47% percent of their job could be done by AI, which is like, well.

Blake Oliver: [00:30:23] Actually reading the chart wrong. It's a very confusing chart, but it says that 47% of the respondents believe that. In 3 to 5 years, more than 25% of their job will be done by AI.

David Leary: [00:30:37] More than okay. Yeah, it's weird that they bracket that up. So then they have a graph of the awareness. And what they really call it in this graph is tools that these accountants probably even have and they're using in their firms CCH Axcess IQ, Bloomberg, Bloomberg's tax AI lab like these are AI tools they might already have in house possibly. And they're just showing the awareness of these tools. So um 90% have heard of ChatGPT. Right. Uh, bing! I, uh, so it's easier to look at the people that have never heard of it. So. Bing, I 43% have not heard of that Bard, which is Google's, which they just renamed to Gemini now is 67% have not heard of it. The CCH Axcess the Bloomberg tax I 72%. And then it really starts going down. You start getting into Jasper 82%. And some of these I've never even heard of, like what's pseudo right? 96%. I've never heard of it, I've never heard of it.

Blake Oliver: [00:31:38] So so 10% have never heard of ChatGPT. After a year or just over a year about that. That's amazing. Um, so how many have used it, though? So this is this is how many people have used ChatGPT.

David Leary: [00:31:54] So have used for both work or personal reasons. So 19% have touched it. Um, yeah. So but if you add in the work or personal so it's 19, 19 and 12.

Blake Oliver: [00:32:07] So so basically half half have used it in some way and half have never used it. So okay, well, that's better than it was because when I did this survey previously like months ago or raising hands.

David Leary: [00:32:19] That's right. Yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:32:20] I did a survey on Accounting Today web webinar and I found only 20% had used it. Uh, but that could have just been the counting. Today's audience, I don't know. So we've got half that have even tried it.

David Leary: [00:32:31] And 40%. Just know the name only. Yeah, yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:32:36] Well, this is crazy to me because, like, I use it every day. I subscribe to multiple eyes. I find it so helpful. Just just brainstorming. And actually I have something about that. But keep going. Yeah.

David Leary: [00:32:48] So they asked him specifically at work, do you use or have access to chat bots to help you with any of the following tasks? And 16% say they have access and use tasks for like scheduling meetings entering hours. So there are using some AI tools because at some level those things like book a meeting, book a meeting, right. Um, if if firms are on outlook, I'm sure by now outlook has ways to look at both people's schedules. Right. Um, to, to to book a meeting on a calendar, um, capturing and transcribing meeting notes.

Blake Oliver: [00:33:21] That's my favorite use case right now. Just like record the meeting, use the transcript to generate a summary. Incredible, incredible time saving.

David Leary: [00:33:31] And so 27% have access to these tools, but 15% don't even use it. So so you have the ability, your firm's paying for it, whatever it might be. And you're not using these tools. They even have tools for performance reviews, hiring, interviewing, employee onboarding. And the ratios really like firms are. Some firms have access to this or some employees, but they're just not using them. Yeah. You know, far too busy. 6%.

Blake Oliver: [00:33:57] That's my theory. They're too busy to to try out new stuff.

David Leary: [00:34:02] The one thing that I thought was interesting is when they talk about their personal stuff, but they're talking about their trust in AI. So the question they ask them is, for purposes of this question, assume regulation on AI does not apply. Would you trust AI to be mostly to wholly responsible for any of the following areas in your business? So research and fact checking people are like, hey, that's okay, 55% are comfortable with that. But when you start getting down into, um, for example, the lowest making layoff decisions, people are like, I they only trust that 2% or 2% of the people trust it to do that.

Blake Oliver: [00:34:38] Well, maybe that's because they don't want to get laid off by AI.

David Leary: [00:34:41] Yeah, and 12% say they're not comfortable with AI being responsible for any of the activities at work.

Blake Oliver: [00:34:48] Yeah, that makes sense.

David Leary: [00:34:50] That's, that's, that's there's always 12 to the 10%.

Blake Oliver: [00:34:53] There's always like 10% of people who like, hate everything. Right? Yeah.

David Leary: [00:34:57] Yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:34:58] You're always going to have that group.

David Leary: [00:34:59] Yeah. Only 25% trust it for client and customer communications. And that kind of leads into I think it's going to be the next chart.

Blake Oliver: [00:35:09] Accountants don't know.

David Leary: [00:35:09] This is the personal one. This is the personal lives. Well, and then I think they talk about the the impact it has on the firms. But we'll talk the personal lives I thought was interesting. So. In your personal life, for which of these would you trust AI to be? Mostly to wholly responsible? Uh, and the biggest one is 41% protecting your car house maintenance needs. That's fine. You mean predicting or predicting? Sorry. Predicting those, uh, making financial recommendations for budgeting, investing, evaluating loan applications. Those are all 30%, 37%. They're decently high. The ones that I thought were interesting is in determining, um, or diagnosing and treating a disease for your loved one. 15% said that, but matching you with a romantic partner, only 9% trust it for that. So people trust AI to diagnose a disease more than possibly picking out a romantic partner. But again.

Blake Oliver: [00:36:04] Aren't all these like dating platforms using AI now? I would assume so.

David Leary: [00:36:09] And in 100%. Yeah, I know it's been the I wasn't around a decade ago as much so and then 27% just say they're not comfortable with AI being wholly responsible for any of their activities in their personal life. So in general, accountants are just not comfortable with AI for for much of anything.

Blake Oliver: [00:36:28] So I've got a good example, actually, of how I used it in my personal life. Um, I was I was having some issues with my son, like behavioral issues. He's nine. Right. This is normal. And I was trying to figure out how do I talk to him about this, because whatever I was doing was not working. And my parents, like, you should go, uh, talk to a family therapist. And I'm like, great money down the drain. Let's let's spend a lot of money on going to therapy, right? Maybe I can use AI to save myself some money. Right. Sorry. If there's any mental health professionals listening, you're valuable. You are. But I thought I thought I could, like, try something first before going to you. Yeah. So I just I went I opened up ChatGPT my team subscription. Right. So I don't have to worry about it. Ingesting my details of my personal life, uh, and training the model with it. And I just explained the issue I was having. I just said, like, I'm talking to a pro. I said, you know, here's the issue I'm having. How do I talk to my son about this so that his behavior improves? It gave me an entire set of talking points step by step by step. Here's what you say. And it even gave me examples of how to say it.

David Leary: [00:37:38] Wow, I took that.

Blake Oliver: [00:37:40] I sat down with him and my wife. We had the most productive, incredible conversation and it worked.

David Leary: [00:37:49] And it cost you 20 bucks this month.

Blake Oliver: [00:37:51] It cost me 20 bucks this month. Earmarks paying for it. So I didn't even have to, you know, spend a dollar of my own, my own money, quote unquote. And, uh, it saved me, I'm going to say thousands of dollars in fees. In time. So this is an incredible tool for your personal life. Like if you're if you're struggling to get along with your romantic partner, your spouse, your kids, your family members, you can tell it your problems and it will give you pretty great advice, in my experience, and maybe at work, too. If you're struggling to deal with a manager, a supervisor, a partner giving you a hard time, you can use this to brainstorm ways to get out of the situation. Improve the situation. Um, it's a fantastic tool for brainstorming, and that's actually my biggest recommendation for people who haven't used it yet. It's. It's used ChatGPT or Claude or Bart or Gemini, whichever one you use and and use it to brainstorm. And I found this great article on Forbes 12 ChatGPT prompts for Leaders and Managers in 2024. And most of these prompts, you know, are that kind of thing brainstorming. Decision making. Here's the first recommended prompt. First you describe the situation and then you say provide a cost benefit analysis for what the impact of this decision might be and provide some suggestions now that cost benefit analysis might not be accurate. But it will start you thinking about what you need to consider when you do the cost benefit analysis. Here's another one I am proposing blank to a team you put in. You describe the team. You describe the stakeholder. You describe what you're proposing, what might be some potential objections to this decision, and how can I address them, get you thinking in advance about what the objections might be and how you could address them, so that you are more effective in that meeting. Same thing. Problem solving I'm currently facing name of challenge in my department. I have already tried considered your solution right? You put in the solution. Give me five ideas to address the challenge. They're unique and different to what I have already done.

David Leary: [00:40:14] Yeah, yeah. Because what you're doing here is your limit. Like it helps you scale. And then I've worked at big corporations. Right? I wasn't into it. And you like, oh, we're trying to solve this thing. And you bring ten people in the room, and you go through this eight hour brainstorming sessions and you're doing all this stuff. You can do this by yourself with these AI tools now and iterate through a lot more, so much faster, and probably eventually, because you're iterating so much faster, you're probably going to get to a better solution in the end, just because you're it's just so efficient to to iterate through, you know?

Blake Oliver: [00:40:46] Yeah, it gives you a starting point rather than starting from nothing and having to come up with all these ideas on your own, which is really hard. You get all these ideas and you can filter through and pick the best ones and then ask more questions. Great example. Here is I would like to propose a meeting to address a particular issue, and you describe the issue. The following people will be present. Describe who's going to be there. Generate a meeting agenda with ample time for each attendee to participate and share their thoughts and questions in a discussion. So generating agendas in advance of a meeting is something that takes a lot of time and most of us don't do. And therefore we have very unproductive meetings, whether that's with clients or with colleagues. This way you can show up to every meeting, and it takes you five minutes to create a starting point agenda because you described what you want to talk about, and the eye goes the rest of the way. I do this for interviews. Now when I'm going to interview somebody that I don't know, or even if I know, I can take their LinkedIn profile and I can just copy and paste the text on the page into AI, and I can say, you know, based on this individual's background and experiences, give me ten questions. I could ask them for a stimulating conversation in a podcast interview, and it gives me ten questions. Now I'm not going to use them all. I might change them. Gives me a starting point now, I think, oh yeah, here's how I can get going on this.

David Leary: [00:42:14] It's made me for these member, these survey respondents or people that are in firms started that conversation. How can I use I possibly in my firm and just go back and forth like that and see if there's a you can be like, that's too complicated. Is there a simpler one? You could just do this dance and then you'll come up with some ideas. Yep.

Blake Oliver: [00:42:33] Now, Maria says. Chatgpt gave me instructions for getting a replacement GPT license in AZ. That's our version of sales tax. But it was inaccurate. Yes. Now that is a problem, right? And that's why I don't consider AI's best use case to be giving you exact, accurate answers. To me, it's about brainstorming, uh, possible answers, and then you use your human expertise to pick the answer, or to research or dig in more closely to figure out what do I actually need to do? Goal setting is great. Here's one more prompt and then we'll move on. I'm launching an initiative that will. And you put in the end goal and purpose. Provide me with a list of KPIs and short term goals for the team members who will be involved, and you list out the team members and what their jobs are. So your brainstorming KPIs now you're not going to use necessarily the KPIs that recommends. You might pick them, you might modify them, but it gives you a starting point. So if you're struggling to manage people, if you are struggling to be managed, I think this is a fantastic tool for that.

David Leary: [00:43:41] I do want to get your one take on one of the questions and the answers on that, that last piece of that survey. They asked, how do you expect I, and all of its current iterations might hurt your business? The number one answer 63% of people said loss of personal touch with customers and clients. And I almost feel like it's it would be the opposite. How are they defining personal touch? Emails back and forth say sending me this, doc, give me this, give me this.

Blake Oliver: [00:44:11] Yeah, that's because they don't understand. See, that's the problem. If you haven't used AI in a meaningful way, you don't understand what it's capable of. So it's not it's not going to replace the interaction. It's going to augment your interaction. So here's a classic interaction. You have a meeting with a client. And in the meeting you all say what you're going to do. And then the meeting ends. And nobody does what they're going to say. That said, nobody actually follows up and does what they said they were going to do, and nobody sends out any meeting notes and nobody reminds anyone. And then nothing happens. And then you meet again the next month and it's the same meeting. How many of us have had that experience? Here's the alternative with AI, you record the meeting. You use either a specialized tool, or you just put the transcript into a generic chat bot, and you create an executive summary of what was discussed in the meeting, along with action items. You review that following the meeting. This takes five, ten, 15 minutes. Okay, you review that and then you edit for accuracy because you were just in the meeting. You can do this. And then you send that out to all the participants.

Blake Oliver: [00:45:19] That's something that doesn't happen most of the time. In my experience in corporate America, in firms, it does not happen. If it happened after every meeting, it would be great. And it tends to only happen when there's like a dedicated person whose job is to do that. Well, most firms, we don't have the resources to do that. We don't have the people to do that. And we don't have personal secretaries anymore. Right. So you use AI to do that, and then you've got the action items. And what's great is you go to the next meeting that you have with the client. Oh, you've got your meeting notes. So my strategy right now is, um, I keep a Google doc that is linked to every standing meeting I have. You have one with me, David. Yeah, I have one with every team member who reports to me. And I use AI often to summarize the takeaways, action items, what was discussed in the prior meeting so that when we come back. It's right there. Here's what you said you were going to do. Did you do it or did you not do it?

David Leary: [00:46:13] Yeah, because all I is going to do is allow you to have higher value. Conversations with those people and it leads into their other big survey result here is people fear of skill degradation. Right. And 54%. And I just don't get that one either, because in theory, you're going to use AI for these low value tasks, which you'll give you time to learn deeper and learn more skills. So there's just like these are really bad assumptions. I think in general that accountants have are impressions they have of AI. Right. As far as fears.

Blake Oliver: [00:46:47] And and going back to our discussion at the beginning of the episode, in terms of inputs and outputs, this is going to be the end of the billable hour. And the time sheet in firms is AI, because the productivity gain is so great that firms will have to stop billing by the hour, or they will bill 20%. Yeah, of what they currently bill. Or they'll have to just.

David Leary: [00:47:14] Start a bigger impact than cloud accounting had. And I think.

Blake Oliver: [00:47:17] It's I consider them equivalent. Right. So. My career was in this world of outsourced accounting. Cloud based accounting cut the time to do traditional accounting and bookkeeping work by 80 to 90%. I couldn't build by the hour. If I did, I would not have a business. That's why I switched to fixed fees on a monthly basis. Okay, I wouldn't call what I was doing value pricing. It was just fix the fee and I got the benefit of the efficiency gains. And I would pass that on in some, to some extent to my clients who paid way less to me than they paid to a traditional CPA firm. Right. So we all benefited. Same thing's going to happen now with other areas of accounting, right. Financial reporting, audit tax. They are going to see 4 or 5 X or more cuts in terms of the time it takes. So I think.

David Leary: [00:48:07] It's going to be a it's funny I was watching the Cold War and they're talking about, you know, the atom bomb. And when they discovered that and Oppenheimer and they discovered it's like the grain of sand and it vibrates and hits the next grain of sand and it vibrates out. And that's basically the nuclear explosion, right? Yeah. And I think it's going to be more like that. It's the bank feeds are just like this one little thing. It just pulled transaction down and you could quickly sort and categorize those. Like this is going to impact everything you're doing in your firm a little bit here, a little bit here. And it's the overall effect. Could be hundreds 100 x difference. It's pretty amazing where we're at with this.

Blake Oliver: [00:48:41] Yeah it's a great time to be alive. I it's so exciting because we're building a small business. Right. And instead of having to hire an army of people to do a bunch of work, we are using AI to do the base layer of work, and we are going to then have experts who review that. We're going to turbocharge our staff and the firms that are overloading their people. They're not going to be able to innovate in this way because it takes a lot of time. I spend, I have spent I cannot tell you. I cannot tell you how much time I've spent, David, on certain AI automations, trying to get certain prompts series to work, and working with the API to automate the flow of data from our systems into open AI and then back. It has taken me days, weeks, months. That's all theoretically lost time. But no.

David Leary: [00:49:37] Because think of it this way what if you had to hire 20 employees? You would have just been spending all your time dealing with stupid headaches like managing employees, right? Right.

Blake Oliver: [00:49:45] But what I'm trying to say is that if I was still a manager at a big firm, there's no way I would have had time to fit that work in to my schedule, because I have to sit down for like a whole day and just work through it, and I hit walls, and I have to work through them. And I can't do that in, like an hour here, an hour there.

David Leary: [00:50:06] You need that quiet, focused wave. Yeah. To think through it. Yeah. And that's why that 10% time doesn't work. And so the only way that really works is, hey, if you work at a place for a decade, you get one full year to do anything you want. Heads down for a year. That's the only way 10% time will ever work.

Blake Oliver: [00:50:21] David, I could keep talking about this for an hour, but I realize there's so much we have to go because we have a meeting and we are late for it. So thank you everyone who has joined us today live! It's awesome to have over 100 people join us live. We don't even schedule these. We just randomly go live now and and we got, you know, 100 of you, uh, listening in and commenting. Thank you. If you are listening to us on the podcast feed, which is where most people do, uh, you know, join us on YouTube, subscribe to our channel. And if you want to get CPE for having listened to us and me pontificate, you can do that. You deserve it. If you put up with us for this long, go to earmark on the App Store. Download the app and you'll find the course for this episode out in, uh. Usually it's the following week and you can earn a free CPE credit. And if you want to support us, subscribe to the earmark app. And the new version is coming out very soon. And that's actually why we have to go to the meeting, because we've got a meeting with our developers. Hopefully by the time.

David Leary: [00:51:20] You're listening to this, maybe you'll be listening to this in the new app. Fingers crossed.

Blake Oliver: [00:51:23] Like and subscribe. Thanks everyone, and we'll see you soon.

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A Sizable Portion of Accountants See No Use Case for AI
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