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Tax & AccountingJanuary 04, 2024

Practical applications for AI technology in accounting firms

With Artificial Intelligence dominating the news, many accounting professionals are ready to dive in and see where AI technology can help make their lives better. While the technology is still largely experimental, many practical applications are available now and in the near future

Attendees at the 14th annual CCH Connections User Conference had the opportunity to attend a hands-on interactive session focused on practical applications for AI technology in tax and accounting firms. The AI Technology Showcase session discussed the current state of AI within the profession, highlighting solutions such as CCH Axcess™Peter Wesch of Smith Marion & Company sat down to discuss what he saw in the innovative session.

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Increasing client satisfaction 

Wesch describes the common challenge of trying to grow client relationships beyond the simple once-a-year engagement. He sees an opportunity for AI tools to help the firm stay in contact with clients more frequently without having to increase time and resources spent on client communications. 

He says, “The challenge we're facing working with clients is primarily keeping up contact with the clients on a regular basis. We're a heavy audit- and tax-centered firm. And in both of those, we basically only work with the client once a year in terms of directly doing something for them. And by leveraging AI and leveraging technology, we're able to reach out to clients much more frequently, without actually spending a great amount of time making that happen.”

Leveraging AI firm-wide 

In the AI Technology Showcase, Wesch saw solutions not just for client communications, but also for automating tasks to free up time and working with large data sets. AI presents opportunities across the firm, from administrators to tax and audit staff.

According to Wesch, “The content that I saw in the AI sessions focuses around creating content, primarily for contact with the clients without having my team spend a lot of time coming up with that content. And also taking over some of the lower-level work that we used to have to spend lots of time on. The AI software simply handles it very quickly in terms of selection of items or finding outliers in a large data set.”

Spending more time with clients

Wesch was intrigued by the ideas uncovered in the AI Technology showcase, with takeaways to consider for the firm. One of the most significant relates to creating better experiences for clients and staff.  Acknowledging that skilled employees want to spend more time on important, client-facing work, this presents a win-win situation for firms. 

Wesch explains, “The key takeaway from the AI session that I attended is just that AI is here to augment what we do, and allow us to focus much more on the client rather than focusing on getting the work done. Because we can essentially shift some of that work to the AI-powered software, and spend more time talking to our clients and listening to our clients. And it also helps us with the fact that there is a talent shortage. And the talent that we can attract wants to spend more time on actual client-facing work rather than on miniscule tasks.” 

The accounting technology landscape is changing quickly. Firms that want to leverage advanced technology to gain an advantage should act now to map out the possibilities. There are many practical applications for artificial intelligence ready and waiting; firms just need foresight and creativity to harness these powerful technologies.

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