What's Next For Accounting? - Issue #139

I Paid $45 For AI Headshots

📸 I Paid $45 For AI Headshots

You know the ads you’re seeing everywhere for AI headshots? Well… I bit. I bought one to see if they’re worth it (for science), and the answer is a resounding it depends.

Specifically I used Aragon. The process was quick, I gave them some demographic info that seemed unnecessary (I’m white!) and 6 pics, before parting ways with $45.

My biggest complaint for now is these services create pics that are a little too dramatic, too glossy. Interestingly, services like RenderNet are working on this, adding realistic texture to AI imagery.

But I find when AI creates pics of humans, we have one of three reactions:

  • Pics of you - That doesn’t look like me!

  • Pics of people you know - I can kind of see it!

  • Pics of people you don’t know - Wow I couldn’t tell the difference!

At least in the near term, it isn’t going to nail you with a level of accuracy you’ll personally be happy with. But who are professional pics for? Are they for you?

When 99% of people who see your pic online don’t know you, it means AI generated pics are probably enough.

And this is just the beginning of how we will grapple with AI versions of ourselves. A clone of your expertise, giving advice to a client, or giving advice to a team member.

A snapshot of YOU, available around the clock. At scale.

YOU can see it’s only a reflection of you. But when is a reflection enough?

Especially if it saves you having to get out from behind your computer, change out of sweatpants and head down to the mall only to be disappointed by the reality presented by someone else’s camera.

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📅 This Week

  • A rundown of all the new AI stuff Apple just announced

  • International accounting superstar Natalie Lennon is rolling out a TikTok for bookkeepers course

  • A couple AI updates to popular reporting apps:

    • Syft introduced some new AI functionality - great to see, at the moment I think it’s just this 👇 which is a great start

    • Not to be outdone Reach Reporting also launched some similar AI functionality. I got a demo of it at Engage and it’s a nice way to develop your own commentary with the help of AI

    • I’d still like to see a more financial package-wide approach to generative insights, as we explored back in January 23 in our AI predictions for last year

  • “Windows Recall” made a splash recently as it promised to let you search anything you ever saw or did on your computer. Security concerns aside, it was supposed to only be available on new Copilot Plus PCs but has already been cracked to run on any hardware

  • A growing software trend is “AI teammates”

    • It’s the first step toward AI assistants that do the work, rather than just living in a chat box

    • Microsoft & Google announced their versions of this recently, teammates with their own email addresses, can be messaged in chat apps etc

    • Asana recently announced their own AI teammates

    • And I explored what digital teammates could look like in accounting firms on the podcast Video Audio

    • At its best, these are AI agents you can assign tasks to, that take on recurring work your team has done previously

    • At its worst, it’s software cos framing its AI assistant as an employee so they can charge astronomical amounts for it

🔮 Q&A

Is offshoring robbing young accountants of the crucial skills they need to develop early in their career? Link
It’s hard to imagine juniors not having the same progression as you. You learned C, only once you mastered A and B. But this is always the nature of change. Tax software. Computerized ledgers. There will be pros & cons to the new progression.

Personally, I have no reservations building an offshore team. To quote Seth Godin circa 2002: I think our export of “good” jobs is a fine thing. It makes the world a smaller, better and more prosperous place. When you woke up this morning, though, that probably wasn’t the first thing on your mind. You were worried about your favorite person–you.

Highlights from the AICPA Engage? Link
Everyone’s pumping AI as expected, but the depth of understanding of accounting workflows varies wildly. I had some thrilling conversations and some truly disappoint ones with new entrants & incumbents alike.

In the next 6 mos the greatest impact for most accountants will be felt around 1040 workflows and accounts payable processing. Vision models, and how they improve the ways we pull info off documents (with a bit of LLM reasoning) are rapidly improving these workflows.

The wildcard of 2024 will be AI agents - tools that control your computer the same way a human user does. The first peek we’ll get into how useful they could be will be the ChatGPT desktop app, which is said to be rolling out in the coming weeks.

😍 From The Community

My private peer networking community Realize for firm leaders, and it’s now reached its cap of 500 members 🎉

▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ 500/500 members