Executives are Bullish on Generative AI Use Within Finance and Accounting, Despite Low Adoption Rates

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, May 13th, 2024

Could 2024 be the year that Generative artificial intelligence (AI) sees accelerated adoption within finance and accounting? According to a Deloitte Center for ControllershipTM poll, even though few executives (6.6%) say their organizations have already implemented Generative AI solutions to support finance and accounting processes, considerably more indicate they are actively discussing use cases (15.4%) or have future plans to adopt the technology (27.8%).

Looking at the next 12 months, responding executives say that cash flow forecasting (23.7%) presents the biggest opportunity for Generative AI within their organization's finance and accounting function, followed closely by scenario planning (21.1%), expense reporting (18.1%) and financial controls management (14.1%).

"Just as in any industry, there are areas within accounting and finance that could be ripe for Generative AI experimentation," said Court Watson, a Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory, Deloitte & Touche LLP, who specializes in AI use within controllership functions. "Processes that depend on estimations for which organizations have robust, algorithm-ready data sets — such as cash flow forecasting and scenario planning — might be ideal areas for finance and accounting teams to begin testing Generative AI use."

Data, which is the main input for Generative AI models, is the single greatest pain point according to respondents. Nearly one-quarter (24.4%) of polled executives say that enhancements to data quality would improve their trust levels in Generative AI tools.

"Across the board, we continue to hear from organizations that the lack of clean, model-ready data is a significant challenge to incorporating Generative AI into finance and accounting workstreams. Implementing a robust data strategy and process to prepare finance and accounting data for use within Generative AI models – as well as with automation and other technologies – is a crucial first step to help organizations truly reach actionable insights and outcomes," said Watson.

As interest in Generative AI solutions within finance and accounting grows, so are considerations concerning the technology's implications on governance strategies. More than one-third of polled leaders (38.7%) say that their organization already has or will have a Generative AI strategy – protocols to guide its adoption and use – in place for finance and accounting within the next 12 months. Yet, a similar number (39%) report no future plans to develop a strategy.

Dave Stahler, a Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory partner and controllership digital finance leader, Deloitte & Touche LLP, added, "Generative AI is expected to transform finance and accounting processes, inclusive of actual financials, making governance a significant piece of the puzzle. Treating AI governance like any other finance transformation effort will be key to bringing the technology safely into an organization's finance operations. For many, that will mean taking an enterprise-wide approach that includes a well-governed data strategy, accuracy and reliability safeguards, alignment with financial regulations and standards, close strategic collaboration across business functions and — critically — management support."