The introduction of ChatGPT has opened professional services to the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to positively transform how businesses work.

However, the technology underpinning ChatGPT isn’t new. Professionals have been using AI for many years, the most obvious example being through autocorrect or predictive text. But what is new is that AI is no longer something that just works in the background – it’s now working right in front of the end user.

The area of AI that HLB Mann Judd Sydney is mainly focusing on is automation, in particular, bots. Bots are simple software applications that can be programmed to follow a set of instructions to perform tasks such as answering common questions or booking appointments.

Previously, you needed coding skills to be able to build a bot. However, now there are frameworks (such as Bot Framework Composer, Power Virtual Agents and Bot Framework SDK) with preloaded bot templates that require little or no coding.

In order to do a task, a bot needs a set of instructions to follow – a flow chart or script of responses. In addition, if you build a bot to answer common queries the finance team receives, for example, you will need a database of those FAQs the bot can access to answer questions.

By using a combination of Microsoft Office 365 and UiPath, the firm has created eight bots to date, as well as avatars and personalities for the bots, to help drive staff engagement.

The bots are effectively able to undertake the tasks within the following:

  • Formal correspondence including resolutions and address changes
  • Searches on ASIC and the Personal Property Securities Register
  • Creating planning letters and closing letters, audit reports, engagement letters and independence declarations
  • Downloading ASX announcements for listed clients
  • Development of quarterly reports.

In the past six months, the firm has saved more than 1,000 hours, and this is expected to increase as the technology develops further.

A key part of the whole process has been making sure we can quantify time and cost savings. The technology allows staff to focus less on administrative tasks, ensuring more time is spent interacting with, and advising, clients.

As with any new technology, AI is not without its risks. For all its positives, AI is unable to:

  • Develop meaningful relationships
  • Apply facts correctly when there is missing information
  • Execute skill sets that require higher technical skills
  • Understand the nuances of tax law in different jurisdictions.

AI like ChatGPT affords businesses across all sectors, including professional services, the ability to remain competitive and boost efficiency.

This article was published in Financial Times – Spring 2023 issue.