06 2024 CPAmerica Advantage Newsletter

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News from your accounting association

From Heroes to Superheroes: The Power of AI in the Workplace

We all know how rapidly the artificial intelligence (AI) landscape is changing and shaping the way we do our daily work. To keep us updated on the latest technology developments, Juan Carlos Lara, Crowe Global, spoke with us about what’s on his horizon.

June 2024 IN THIS ISSUE: ► From Heroes to Superheroes: The Power of AI in the Workplace

► Preferred Provider Spotlight - Botkeeper

► Client Advisory Services Meeting

► Member News

► CPAmerica Insights –Tarena Stanley

“I like to say that if you’re a hero, AI will make you a superhero, but if you’re not smart, AI will not make you intelligent.”

Lara shared that there are currently four aspects of the AI landscape in the workplace, 1) AI assistants, 2) AI agents, 3) AI environments, and 4) AI integration

An AI assistant is a tool like ChatGPT, a knowledge database where you can ask questions and retrieve information. In this scenario, you must manually prompt the system each time you have a request and provide clarification.

AI agents are the next level where the tools begin to complete tasks for you. For example, Lara shared that Apple is currently making updates to their Siri assistant to be able to complete tasks such as booking plane tickets, hotel stays and rental cars on behalf of you. This AI advancement can also be used in the profession for bank reconciliations, bank statements or other items being prepared for clients. The AI assistant can not only pull the information, but also summarize it and create notes.

Recently there has been a rise in AI environments, like Copilot. These tools work within your secure Microsoft Office environment and SharePoint. While this works better in some tools than others, these innovations have already started being integrated into the Office suite. Lara cautions that if you are utilizing an AI environment, it is crucial to not use it for personal use, as it will learn from the requests you’re making and therefore shape the results.

Finally, the integration of AI tools into other systems is the fourth aspect. In the next year or sooner, we should be seeing AI integrated directly into the various accounting software your firm is probably already using.

“With integration, the system learns and has memory, so the more you use it, the better it works,” said Lara. “What the system produces is about 80-90% accurate, so you only need to work on the 10-20%, which saves a lot of time. But, that 10-20% is the most important part because the touch you add makes you the best professional possible for your clients.”

Lara and his team consider themselves “fast followers” of the AI revolution. Not making big investments into AI as a whole, but experimenting with the various tools and resources available to get a better understanding of the space and capabilities.

“Everything moves so quickly that things you’ve learned last week could be obsolete tomorrow,” said Lara. “It makes it challenging to invest in systems like this because you’ll likely lose your money. So, we’re following what Meta, OpenAI and Google are doing, so that instead of us investing the billions,

we let them invest the billions and we take advantage of what they are producing.”

Lara said that many people feel pressure to immediately implement AI tools or that it’s like a race to start investing in AI as soon as it comes out. But in his opinion it’s a mistake to invest a lot of money in this race. The tools are very powerful but change all the time. That’s why he recommends investing in inexpensive systems like ChatGPT, Copilot and Claude. Many even have affordable payas-you go models, so you only pay for the tools you need.

In finding the best AI tools for your firm, Lara suggests that the first and most important step is a change in mindset. You must begin thinking about your work and completing tasks differently to evolve your firm. And Lara says it shouldn’t just be younger people in the firm looking into these tools, everyone should take note and start getting educated.

“The important thing is to start using AI tools and experimenting,” said Lara. “However, it’s not the ‘tool of all tools’ and it’s not magic, but it will make you very efficient. So, you need to start shifting your mindset and begin reskilling yourself and your team starting today.”

Before officially taking the plunge into AI, Lara shared that your firm needs a strategy for what you are interested in pursuing. After you have determined your AI course of action, your firm needs to develop an acceptable use policy and ethical policy. These are essential to ensure your entire firm is on the same page about how these tools are used.

Lara added, “Once you have established your

See Superhero, continued on page 2

Interview with Juan Carlos Lara, Regional Executive, Américas, Crowe Global Juan Carlos Lara

Preferred Provider Spotlight


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Continued from Superhero, on page 1

AI strategy and have a good understanding of what’s needed, you can start experimenting with AI and take an inventory of what’s available. Your shift in mindset should continue as you’re learning more and becoming more comfortable. Then you can figure out how to apply AI today with the tools we have today.”

Since AI tools are so vast and varied, it can feel like a lot to even get started. However, Lara stressed the importance of starting to shift your mindset first to begin getting comfortable with AI today. He also suggested working with a small group of team members who are always learning and pushing boundaries to be “early adopters” and get the best picture of how to move towards the future with AI.

If you have any questions for Juan Carlos Lara, please feel free to email him at Juan.Lara@crowe.org. If you would like to join the AI Center of Excellence, please contact accounts@cpamerica.org. We also have another Leveraging AI and ChatGPT Member

Sharing Call with Juan Carlos on August 14 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Scan this QR code to register.

To get started with AI at your firm, Juan Carlos Lara shared the following list of elements to keep track of and be aware of:

► You and your staff need to stay informed. Registering your people to an AI newsletter will provide awareness on what is happening on the AI world.

► Establish an AI acceptable use policy and an ethical AI policy. You will need governance around the use of AI as well as a risk analysis to establish these policies.

► Subscribe to a platform (we suggest OpenAI with ChatGPT Plus and Anthropic with Claude 3) to begin with. I recommend beginning with subscriptions to ChatGPT Plus ($20 per month per user) or ChatGPT Teams ($25 per month per user). With Teams you can create specialized groups and the information entered will not be used for training the systems, so it is secure. It’s not necessary to get subscriptions for your entire team, just the small established group for research.

► Read newsletters to obtain ideas of what you can benefit from using these platforms and start analyzing what process at you firm will benefit the most using this technology. Join the CPAmerica AI Center of Excellence Community where information is being shared and questions can be asked.

► Subscribe to Microsoft Copilot so you can experiment also with this chatbot.

► Take inventory of the software solutions you currently use and investigate when and what AI technology your providers are planning to integrate. If your current provider is not contemplating the integration of AI, you should start thinking about other alternatives that will.

► Take inventory of the processes that you can redesign using AI to make them more efficient.

► Register to our AI Member Sharing Calls where you will receive ideas of processes that you can make more efficient as well as creating your own chatbots and using Microsoft Copilot.

CPAmerica Advantage | June 2024 | 2

Barnard Vogler & Co. announces three promotions


Greenspon welcomes Ciaccio as director of client accounting & advisory services

Barnard Vogler & Co announces three employee promotions. Erika Hoppe has been promoted to director, Jared Streshley has been promoted to manager, and Amy Santistevan has been promoted to senior accountant. In 2014, Hoppe joined the firm as a staff accountant, was promoted to senior accountant, manager, and most recently senior manager. She has a wide range of experience in individual, business, and trust taxation. Hoppe focuses on tax engagements for high net-worth individuals, trusts and estates. Streshley joined the firm in 2019 as a staff accountant. He has experience in auditing nonprofit organizations, government entities, financial institutions and manufacturing sectors. His expertise extends to a variety of tax engagements for corporations, partnerships and nonprofits. Santistevan began her career at the firm as an intern in 2020. In 2022, she assumed the role of staff accountant, gaining experience in preparing income tax returns for individuals, small businesses and trusts.

Weafer joins Teal, Becker & Chiaramonte, CPAs, P.C.

Teal, BeCker & ChiaramonTe, CPas, P.C. (TBC), the largest CPA firm based in the Capital District, is pleased to announce the addition of Kenneth (K.C.) Weafer to the TBC team as the assistant director of pension operations. With a rich background spanning legal expertise, educational leadership, and public service, Weafer brings a unique blend of skills and insights to enhance the firm’s capabilities in assisting employers with the design, implementation, and compliant administration of their retirement plan programs. Prior to joining TBC, Weafer was an ERISA attorney at a national law firm, where he accumulated over a decade of experience in navigating the intricate landscape of retirement plan regulations.

ThomPson greensPon, a leading public accounting and advisory firm, is pleased to welcome Nick Ciaccio, MBA, as director of client accounting & advisory services. Ciaccio comes to the firm with a commendable background and has proven expertise with more than 20 years of practice as a financial executive, including experience as an outsourced CFO and CAAS department lead for a Top 100 CPA firm. His leadership is expected to enhance the firm’s advisory services, providing clients with unparalleled guidance and innovative solutions. “Nick’s track record, combined with his strategic vision and leadership skills, assures us that he will have the same success here, fostering growth and innovation within our CAAS practice,” said Carolyn Quill, managing principal at Thompson Greenspon. “We are on the brink of a transformative phase in advisory services, and Nick’s joining marks a significant step towards that,” they added.

by MSCPA’s Chairman-Elect Tom Walker. As committee chair, Adams will help set the direction for the industry in Mississippi for the coming year. The Mississippi Business Journal annually recognizes 40 business leaders from across the state that are 40 years of age or younger and who have positively impacted economic growth on a local or state level. MC&L Managing Shareholder, Matt Freeland, CPA, said, “We are proud to have such an incredible leader helping push the direction of our industry, striving to serve the community, as well as serving our clients with quality work.”

LMC Advisors partners with Vogel & Co.

Matthews, Cutrer and Lindsay, P.A. announces Shannon Adams, CPA, named 2024 MBJ Top 40 Under 40

maTThews, CuTrer and lindsay, P.a (MC&L) is honored to announce Shannon Adams, CPA, director at MC&L, as being recognized as one of Mississippi Business Journal’s 2024 Top 40 Under 40 recipients. Adams has over 17 years of experience in public accounting, and joined MC&L in January 2007.

Adams’ dedication, expertise, and commitment to excellence have been instrumental in the success of MC&L, making her an invaluable asset to the firm. Adams accepted a director position as part of MC&L’s leadership team earlier this year, and has already proven herself as perfectly positioned in that role. Adams’ passion for the field shines through in every aspect of her work, making her a natural fit for the role of director. In addition to this promotion, Adams is a past president of the Mississippi Society of CPAs Young CPA Network, and was also appointed as committee chair for another term for the 2024-2025 fiscal year representing Accounting and Auditing

lmC adVisors announces a partnership with Vogel & Co., an independent business management and tax advisory firm with offices in Darien, Conn., and West Palm Beach, Fla., specializing in family office services for highnet-worth clients. This strategic partnership will provide greater value to clients of both firms by expanding the range of services and solutions they offer to address the sophisticated needs of high-net-worth families and individuals. “This partnership with Vogel & Co. gives us both additional capacity to address the increasing demand for family office services by combining our high-caliber, talented teams and expanding the deep technical expertise we can offer the clients of both firms,” said Lee M. Cohen, CEO of LMC Advisors. “We warmly welcome Vogel & Co. to the LMC family and look forward to building a family office firm that embodies our mutual commitment to excellence and delivers exceptional value to clients.” LMC and Vogel & Co. share a commitment to delivering white glove service and to fostering a firm culture that supports superior service to clients and the professional enrichment of their teams. “As LMC and Vogel & Co. embark on this partnership, we remain committed to maintaining the highest standards of service, integrity, and professionalism. Vogel & Co. clients can expect a seamless transition and continued dedication to their financial success,” Cohen said.

Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP announces their newest team members

gray, gray & gray, llP (g3) is pleased to welcome new team members to their G3 family. Kaylah Andrade is a new tax staff accountant, Nivetha Baskar is a new transaction advisory services analyst, Ryan Jensen is a new audit staff accountant, Shari Kent is a new audit administrative assistant, Michael Miano is a new audit supervisor, Rishika Mishra is a new Gray Strategic Partners investment banking analyst, Phuong Ngo is a new tax processing coordinator, and Derick St. Cyr is a new audit supervisor.

Erika Hoppe Kenneth Weafer Jared Streshley Amy Santistevan Nick Ciaccio
CPAmerica Advantage | June 2024 | 3
Shannon Adams

Unlocking Opportunities: Leveraging Learning Materials and Engagement Opportunities

In the ever-evolving world of accounting, staying ahead requires more than just keeping up with industry standards and compliance requirements. It’s about continuous learning and engaging with a vibrant community of peers. At CPAmerica, we provide access to comprehensive learning materials and meaningful engagement opportunities throughout the year to support your firm’s growth and enhance your career trajectory.

These webinars provide the convenience of learning from experts in real-time, with opportunities to ask questions and engage with fellow attendees.

Our annual A&A and Tax Webinar series are highly requested and revered, but they are just the beginning. We partner with CPAmerica Preferred Providers to offer thousands of learning opportunities within the Learning Management System (LMS), powered by LCVista. Whether you need technical training or want to develop and enhance your power skills, we invite you to explore the extensive resources at your fingertips. Our course catalog within the LMS includes CPE courses such as, “Current Trends in Fraud and Internal Control,” “Corporate Transparency Act – Update and Best Practice,” and personal development courses like “Leading with Empathy,” “Managing with Courage,” and “Who Needs Conflict Anyway: Reframing to Avoid and Mitigate Conflict.” Accessing these courses through the LMS ensures that you benefit from the members-only discount, automatically applied in your cart.

Throughout the year, we collaborate with advisory committees and other Preferred Providers to offer live CPE hot-topic webinars.


For firms requiring staff training, our collaboration with the AICPA allows us to offer Tax Staff Essentials Level Training at the AICPA Corporate Office in Durham, NC. New this year is an optional 8 CPE Personal Leadership Workshop led by Carrie Steffen, president of The Whetstone Group. The workshop focuses on identifying behaviors, assessing abilities, and developing a personal plan for improvement. The successful return of the staff training highlighted the effectiveness of our strategic plan to engage more deeply with firms beyond managing partners. Staff attending the trainings have created their own community and bonds that extend beyond the meeting dates.

Our conferences and live events consistently provide engagement opportunities and handson learning experiences that delve deeply into specific areas such as tax planning, audit procedures, and building your CAS practice. Association staff work extensively with top professionals to ensure you have access to quality speakers and content with dynamic and practical takeaways. Networking opportunities at our events are designed to build and strengthen your professional and personal relationships with peers, ultimately fostering further collaboration.

Supplements to our live events include sharing calls, thought leadership content within our newsletters, and Center of Excellence Communities. Discussion forums within these communities foster a collaborative environment among members, enabling firms to connect, share valuable resources and best practices, and facilitate client referrals.

Advisory Services Meeting

Salt Lake City, Utah | August 6-8

Le Méridien Salt Lake City

Client Advisory Services (CAS) offer accounting firms the opportunity to expand their revenue streams and build deeper relationships with their clients by providing more comprehensive, strategic financial guidance. By offering CAS, firms can differentiate themselves in a competitive market and deliver added value that helps clients navigate complex business challenges. In addition to engaging and informative sessions with industry-leading speakers, the seventh annual CAS meeting provides space for members to connect and share with each other through numerous networking mixers and member sharing sessions. Come join this growing group of member experts who can help you and your firm thrive as the CAS niche continues to mature.

Featuring these influential speakers and more:

Carrie Steffen, The Whetstone Group | Amy Vetter, The B3 Method Institute Gary Thompson, Thompson Consulting | Amy Bridges & Todd Cooper, CPA.com

Preferred Consultants serve as resident experts within these communities, providing essential expertise that members can access readily. In our CAS group, we have partnered with Amy Vetter from The B3 Method Institute to provide insights and interact with members. As our association continues to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact within firms and the industry, we have partnered with Crowe Global’s Juan Carlos Lara, now a resident expert in the Center of Excellence AI Community. Juan Carlos offers practical guidance on implementing AI to help firms stay ahead of the curve.

Engaging with our members and learning materials is more than a professional necessity; it is a pathway to continuous growth and success. By leveraging our diverse resources and actively participating in our communities, you can stay ahead of industry trends, enhance your skills, and build a robust professional network. Embrace these opportunities and watch your career soar. We look forward to seeing you at our live events this year!

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