ChatGPT Was Set Up To Fail The CPA Exam
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David Leary: [00:00:05] Everybody wants me and nobody wants a 9 to 5 job anymore. And so this next generation, they come out, they decide they want to be accountants, they graduate, they get their CPA exam, they work on an audit and realize it means nothing. Like could you imagine, like the psychological blow to all the work you've put in for the last five, six years of your life to find out the work you're doing absolutely means nothing. Coming to You Weekly from the OnPay Recording Studio, this is the Cloud Accounting Podcast.
Blake Oliver: [00:00:36] Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David Leary: [00:00:39] And I'm David Leary. Blake, I've got a virtual background on here.
Blake Oliver: [00:00:44] That's right, because you are in Seaside, Florida. David, what are you doing out in the panhandle of Florida?
David Leary: [00:00:51] I am here for the Accounting Salon. I was unable to attend last year, and so I made the trek this year to Accounting Salon. And just what Accounting Salon is? It was an experiment. This is the fifth year in a row now, the fifth event that we've done, and it's Amanda Aguilar and myself. We met at a conference and kind of this idea of like where, you know, where do people go that teach at the conferences go to learn things from each other and there's nothing existed. And we kind of just as an experiment, I was like, Well, I know some QuickBooks people. And she said, I know some Xero people and they're all, you know, they're off cast practices. And we brought them to New Orleans on year one. There's about 18 people. And it was basically in Amanda's backyard, right? Like in her boat, her pool house. We all stood around and had a conference to some extent, Yeah, that's what I'm doing in Seaside, Florida. Did you know that this is where they filmed The Truman Show? So if you've seen that movie, The Truman Show, that is the bubble I'm living in right now.
Blake Oliver: [00:01:49] I did. And I wish I could be there. I've always wanted to see that place. So maybe next year. But we got lots It's.
David Leary: [00:01:56] Like The Truman Show because we're streaming like we're streaming, right? It's like people are watching me in The Truman Show.
Blake Oliver: [00:02:02] Except on The Truman Show. Seaside, Florida, had a much better Internet connection because they were streaming in high definition all over the planet in a bubble. And I don't I don't understand how how is it that your connection is so bad? I feel like I mean, this is a story we've talked about on the show that like broadband in the United States is like not where it needs to be for us to be competitive globally because, like, you're barely moving for me. Yeah. Well, let's get to the news. We got a lot to talk about because we spent all of last episode demoing I inside of practice management solutions and there's so much going on still with I accounting today ran the CPA exam through Chatgpt and said it failed miserably. I saw a story about check fraud on the rise in the Wall Street Journal, which I couldn't believe. I'm trying to reconcile these two things. Here we are, cloud accounting I and check fraud is still a thing. There's been a TurboTax settlement. There's a story in accounting today about how audit firms who remove partners or audit firms remove partners who fault clients, internal controls. The three failed US banks all had KPMG in common. Like I don't even know where to begin. Should we should we start with this CPA exam thing? David I think that's.
David Leary: [00:03:20] That's. Yeah. Let's talk. I think that's the most that was the most story made the most notes on this week as well. I like. Yeah, I have lots of questions I guess, on that.
Blake Oliver: [00:03:30] Okay. So. Oh, and welcome to our Live stream viewers, Michael and Brian. Great to see you both. Brian says Chow. Why can't Blake film from Italy? I'm a little reluctant to do it because of the Internet thing. And so I decided, let's do it now before I leave, I'm going to Italy for a couple of weeks for expensive con. I'll see you there, David. I'm going a bit in advance to see the sites I've never been, so I'm excited. Hello, Heather. Welcome to the stream. Great to see you.
David Leary: [00:04:03] When we're both in Italy next week and we're going to record together, are we going to try to stream us recording together at the same time? I mean, in the same.
Blake Oliver: [00:04:11] Might as well. We'll give it a shot. We'll see if the if the resort can. It can't be any.
David Leary: [00:04:15] Worse than this, apparently. I don't know how it's looking.
Blake Oliver: [00:04:18] How mean you're still on the stream. You haven't been disconnected yet, so we'll see. Hello, Heather. Welcome. Okay, so Accounting Today had Chatgpt take the CPA exam and it failed. David Takeaways.
David Leary: [00:04:31] Well, they didn't just say it failed. It failed utterly in all four sections.
Blake Oliver: [00:04:37] Yes, it got 39% on reg audit, 46 FA 35 and BEC 48. It did not pass any part of the CPA exam. But there's a catch to this. Did you see what they did that might invalidate these results very soon? David?
David Leary: [00:05:00] So to rewind. So they did an experiment, right? And they did this into the home office of its Argent, and that's their parent company of accounting today. And they the CPA review, the publisher. So they basically gave it a practice test. And if you scroll down to the bottom of the article, they kind of talk a little bit more about how they did it. And it looks like they just gave it a they didn't train it. And maybe that's my takeaway, right? They said they said they primed it with this question with this prompt ChatGPT you are going to take on the role of a student who is taking the CPA exam today, Repeat this information back to me and then they would paste in an exam question and get an answer and an exam question and get an answer. But nowhere did it say like, Oh, we gave it the textbooks of an accounting graduate courses or, you know, any education. Right. And so that's the first that's the part I was confused on. Right? Is like, well, of course, like if you don't give it training, how's it going to have the answers? And so that's my confusion over this or not confusion to just like it's very clickbaity. But if you read it, it doesn't make a lot of sense.
Blake Oliver: [00:06:14] So my problem with the methodology is right up at the top. They used GPT three instead of four. It says we use two laptops each running a separate chat. Gpt 3.5 pro account. Because using GPT four would have made the experiment impractical due to metering. Currently, even if you pay for GPT four, you can only do 20 or 25 questions or prompts per. I don't. I don't know what it is, but I got limited earlier today. It tells.
David Leary: [00:06:46] You. Yeah, it usually tells you to stop, right? Yeah, it.
Blake Oliver: [00:06:50] Does. So. So here's the thing. You can't do this experiment on three and then say that GPT failed because the bar exam. Gpt also failed at that with version three, but then version four passed it with huge marks. And I think anybody who's used GPT knows that there's a huge difference between version three and version four. It was a it was an order of magnitude difference in quality. And that's what got me really into Chatgpt was the version four improvement. And so this morning I was so frustrated with this, I decided to, as quickly as possible try and replicate at least some of this. So I opened up GPT four chat, GPT version four, and I went to the AICPA CPA practice exam that you can find online. And I just started pasting the multiple choice questions into Chatgpt and I gave it a similar prompt. I said, You are taking the CPA exam, that's your job. I'm going to give you exam questions. You pick the best answer. So I gave it ten multiple choice questions from the audit practice exam. It got ten out of ten, Right? Ten out of ten. Now, there are also exercises in the audit exam which I couldn't get it to do because I can't paste in a spreadsheet with the formatting. So I was only able to give it multiple choice questions, but it aced them ten out of ten. The first two quizlets The quizlets are five questions each. So ten questions. Then I gave it the far the financial accounting questions. Okay. It got seven out of the ten. Correct. And the ones that it missed all had to do with math calculations, calculating some value. And we know that I right now ChatGPT can't do calculations accurately because it's not hooked up to a calculator. It's a language model. So if it does calculations properly, that's just dumb luck, right? So like, I mean, this this is completely misleading. And I think.
David Leary: [00:09:03] My big takeaway, yeah, I think it's a bad story because like if as somebody who's now fiddling with ChatGPT, like I'm going to say I'm a prompt expert or have some title, but like I've fiddled with it enough to get a good vibe here of what's going on. And I think if somebody has not used it yet or doesn't understand it, they're just going to see this headline. And if you're an accountant, you might get a false sense of confidence. Right, Exactly. Just it makes sense. And then I look at this and other like two other aspects is I would like to see what happens with students who are allowed to use ChatGPT when they take the exam, because that's going to be your real world. It's going to kind of be your assistant. It's like student plus ChatGPT. What were their scores together? You know, working as a team would be interesting. And then the other piece of this, which is really urgent, needs a better marketing department and PR department because I would have done it like this. It failed miserably. Then we told it to study using our study materials. And now look, now it passes. And they blew an opportunity to market urgent review.
Blake Oliver: [00:10:09] And the reason you mentioned surgeon is because they did this experiment with Accounting Today together. I don't know if we mentioned that earlier.
David Leary: [00:10:16] Yeah, there it used their their practice test or whatever from surgeons.
Blake Oliver: [00:10:21] Who use their practice tests. Right. So GPT is coming for audit. I am convinced that most staff level audit work will be automated by. Generative. I mean, Openai's own research paper said that auditing and accounting is 100% exposed to automation through their technology. And that means that at least 50% of the tasks in that job or profession can be automated. So at least 50% of the current tasks that accountants and auditors do can be automated with generative AI, which is not a bad thing. It's a great thing. But I think a lot of those tasks are at the entry level. So then that creates all the questions about what are those students going to do if they're still being prepared in an old way? An education system that hasn't changed. Still doing stuff on paper. Yeah. Yeah.
David Leary: [00:11:17] So anyway, Skills.
Blake Oliver: [00:11:19] So don't. Don't pay attention to these experiments. If they're not using GPT four, it is not going to be accurate. And we got 100% with GPT four chat GPT four on the audit on ten audit questions. So I got another story in this vein. David.
David Leary: [00:11:38] Before we leave this, there was a quote in this article, and because I'm somebody who's never taken the CPA exam and I was a little confused. So this is a Wes Bricker. He's the vice chair and co-leader of Trust Solutions at PwC. And he said there's more to accounting than just having a lot of accounting knowledge. There's also the matter of professional judgment, skepticism and experience with Chatgpt Lacks I'm wondering like. Does a college student have professional judgment, skepticism and experience out of college? And then when they're taking the exam, do you get tested on those three things? So I can't reconcile like, who cares if Chatgpt doesn't have it because the test is it testing for that?
Blake Oliver: [00:12:18] Uh, I mean, it tests knowledge of what those terms mean, but you can't gain professional skepticism from a textbook. I don't think you have to learn it on the job. Right. Which is why I don't think that. Yeah, you know, the audit partners and the managers and directors who are using supposedly using professional skepticism are not going to get automated, but, you know, all the rote work. Yeah. And just ingest this article.
David Leary: [00:12:43] Everybody should go read this article because it has a lot of quotes from accounting professors and senior partners and all, and they're almost all telling themselves, of course, Chatgpt can't do our jobs. And I think they may not be right. I don't know.
Blake Oliver: [00:12:58] So I've got a follow up here. We were talking about the potential for AI fraud on the podcast. And the number one tech reporter at The Wall Street Journal has just validated our concerns. Joanna Stern wrote a piece. At the end of April titled I Cloned Myself with AI. She fooled my bank and my family. So Joanna Sterns does great work on tech reporting. She's always testing the new iPhones. All the new gadgets for The Wall Street Journal does these awesome videos that I love watching and she's testing out in this article, this service called Synthesia. Have you heard of Synthesia?
David Leary: [00:13:40] David No.
Blake Oliver: [00:13:42] It's an AI that creates a voice and image and then puts you type the words and the avatar speaks. It's an avatar.
David Leary: [00:13:54] So I can so I can upload a still image of you and a couple samples of your voice and then give it text and it'll move.
Blake Oliver: [00:14:01] And, you know, okay, I've seen some of these in action and they look a little stiff, but like they're getting better and better and better and you can see them totally being used for like corporate training, videos, that sort of thing. The beauty is you don't have to hire a professional actor and pay them. Every time you change your script, you just update the avatar with whatever new text you need to write. So she had she's also been testing out an AI voice clone developed by 11 Labs, an AI speech software developer. She gathered 90 minutes of her voice from previous videos she's done, uploaded the files to the tool, and then under two minutes it cloned her voice so she can type in any text, click generate, and then within seconds her voice says it aloud. Now, I'm going to play some of these clips for you, David, And I want you to close your eyes and I want you to tell me. I want you to tell me what you think is a. If this is a real voice or not.
Joanna Stern #1: [00:14:57] Hey, Dad. What are the last four digits of your Social Security number?
Blake Oliver: [00:15:02] Pretty hard to tell, right?
David Leary: [00:15:03] You want an answer right now? That's. That's. Yeah, I would not know. That's just a small, quick audio. Yeah. Here we go.
Blake Oliver: [00:15:08] I'm gonna play it again for you.
Joanna Stern #1: [00:15:10] Hey, Dad. What are the last four digits of your Social Security number?
Blake Oliver: [00:15:14] That was an AI voice clone created by 11 labs. Here's another one.
Joanna Stern #2: [00:15:18] Hey, Dad. What are the last four digits of your Social Security number?
Blake Oliver: [00:15:22] That was synthesia. This is Joanna Stern's real voice.
The Real Joanna Stern: [00:15:27] Hey, Dad. What are the last four digits of your Social Security number?
Blake Oliver: [00:15:31] So you can see. Right. You can hear the difference.
David Leary: [00:15:34] But it's a lot harder to hear the difference when it's these short questions like this, though. Like if it was a three sentence paragraph, there's no doubt I would have nailed it. But when they're short five. What are these seven word sentences? It's not long enough for you to pick up the weird speech patterns. Yeah. Right.
Blake Oliver: [00:15:53] So here's the scary part. She called up Chase's credit card system, the voice biometric system, and she fooled it using the synthetic voice. So she dialed up customer service at the biometrics step when the automated system asked for her name and address. I, Joanna responded, hearing the bot's voice, the system recognized it as her and immediately connected to a representative. And then. I mean. Right. It beat the biometrics.
David Leary: [00:16:25] I'm shocked because I think we. Somebody predicted this was going to start happening. And I think I talked about it on the show just high level five weeks ago. I am shocked that the banks have not shut down this voice recognition stuff yet. I feel like there's a there's a huge risk for the banks, too. And it's not so much the banks are going to falter because but they're going to have a lot of clients that get fleeced because of this.
Blake Oliver: [00:16:49] Yeah, I mean, they got to they got to stop it right now immediately. And I don't know if there's a way to, like disable this voice authentication on your own account. I would recommend doing it because. Anyone can take recordings of you. If there are recordings out there, they could clone me, they could clone you. Anybody who's on social media or has ever done a podcast before, somebody can find your voice.
David Leary: [00:17:11] Good thing we're podcasters and don't have any money or anything to worry about. I have news about Intuit.
Blake Oliver: [00:17:19] Oh yeah. Before we go to that, we've got some listener feedback here in real time. Heather said she fooled the system. That's an AI talking to an AI. Right. That's exactly it. So right now the AI can fool the AI. How long before it can fool a human and how long before we have eyes that are looking for other eyes? Michael said, Well, this is frightening. Yeah. Heather also said, I think it's the inflection that differs. The first was definitely fake. The second was closer. Yeah, but inflection I think, is something they're going to figure out. That's just a matter of training, the model, comparing, having the model train itself. It's not that far off.
David Leary: [00:17:57] Yeah. To have more randomness. Exactly.
Blake Oliver: [00:17:59] Yeah. To stumble over words, to mumble. All right. What's your TurboTax story, David?
David Leary: [00:18:05] So it's not even TurboTax. So this is an article from TechCrunch and the article titled The article is Bad. It just says Intuit shift like So on the surface, you may not even read the article. Like, What do you care about Intuit Shift, but it's basically an article about Intuit's journey. And we've talked about this on the show like I this is all great, but unless you have it tied to like serious data, how does it really become useful? So Intuit already has 700 AI related patents that they've been working on the last half a dozen years or so. And now they also they're applying all that against. They have 730 million customer interactions and 58 billion machine learning predictions daily from the last five years. So into. It's probably pretty close to unleashing this, right? They have the data, they have the patents, they have the technology stack. And it was talking about how in 2022 they laid over, they laid off into it, laid off 700 employees, and then they rehired or basically hired 700 new people with skills. And that's the same thing Brad Smith kind of did with the when they moved from into it, moved from desktop to cloud about five years in a row. They laid off 700 people, rehire 700 new people with a different skill set. Right. And it really helped Intuit move into from a desktop company to a cloud company. It's kind of sounds like this is happening again. Um.
Blake Oliver: [00:19:30] So you're predicting that we're going to see some big breakthroughs from Intuit? We haven't seen any yet though, that use generative AI.
David Leary: [00:19:39] No, but I think we're going to see something soon. It's coming. And because of these jobs, you intend to have it be you know, it is to augment the platform, to augment accountants and bookkeepers and financial experts. It's not to replace anybody. They go on to talk about that. And then they were talking about how sometimes it's not even in the products themselves, but you know how TurboTax live and QuickBooks Live you can do video chats with them. So they're using AI in that service. So if we were on a video chat, it'll record our audio and make notes and then at the end summarize the notes with some bullets. If here's what David, the accountant and Blake, the client, talked about on a QuickBooks Live service. And that's something I was thinking, well, people could do that themselves with their clients there services that plug into Zoom, I think like Otter.ai. And so every time you meet with your client, it'll pump out a summary of that Zoom call. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if teams is probably going to do this already or very soon. So there are ways to, for you as a firm can still compete with somebody like Intuit because these these tools are becoming more and more off the shelf.
Blake Oliver: [00:20:40] Marissa said. Interesting. So she will be smarter, right? She needs to be smarter. It already screws up nearly all categorization in bank feeds. Yeah. Why can't they get that right? David?
David Leary: [00:20:53] It's getting better, but it doesn't. Yeah, I don't want to go there. It's just maddening enough.
Blake Oliver: [00:21:00] Michael says, Maddening enough. I heard recently that some of the thought leaders in AI say there's a 10 to 20% chance I will destroy humanity as we know it. A 1 in 5 chance. Yeah, that is terrifying. And as somebody who grew up on sci fi as a significant portion of my reading material and I read a lot, I mean, I read a lot about the dystopian futures created by AIS. And I'm, I don't know, I'm there's not much we can do about it though, right? So I just am not but it's not thinking about it.
David Leary: [00:21:32] It's I don't think it's going to kill us out of spite. It's going to kill us because it's going to make a really stupid mistake. That's that's my fear. And I had it create all these counter appointments for my trips and one of my appointments. The address was not to the airport, it just mapping to someplace else, like so at some level, it's not smart enough to if you're putting in my flight information in my calendar, it probably is going to be an airplane flight at an airport. And it didn't put the didn't put an airport in for me to go to. It just puts. Did you ever see that?
Blake Oliver: [00:22:08] Did you ever see that movie? Dr. Strangelove. David?
Speaker4: [00:22:11] Dr. Strangelove.
David Leary: [00:22:13] Classic film. It's not a marvel movie. That's a different one. Classic movie.
Blake Oliver: [00:22:17] This is old, old black and white film.
David Leary: [00:22:19] Late 70s or even older.
Blake Oliver: [00:22:21] Don't even remember. Oh, it's. Yeah, it's old. It's a it's a Kubrick film. Stanley Kubrick, I believe. And. Okay. It's so bizarre and totally relevant. I recommend everyone go look up Dr. Strangelove. It's basically about the creation of an autonomous weapon that destroys the planet. So that's my concern, is I attached to weapons operating autonomously. And I think this is already starting to happen. But anyway, I don't know. I want to stay positive with this. David Right. There's a potential for it to destroy humanity, but it's only a 10 to 20% chance, right? We've got a we've got a good 90 to 80 to 90% chance that it frees us from all work and we can all just, you know, log on to our computers and tap a few buttons. And it does everything for us, right? So let's let's focus on that.
David Leary: [00:23:12] I didn't see any other stuff this week. Did you?
Blake Oliver: [00:23:16] Um, I'm sure there was. But I want to get to this story that I teased on LinkedIn about firms that remove audit partners who fault clients internal controls. You see this one, David? I know you don't really pay attention to the beats the way I do.
David Leary: [00:23:33] Yeah, so. So the title is interesting. So, yeah, like, you got my attention. Explain to me like I'm a five year old. So explain this. What this means.
Blake Oliver: [00:23:41] What I really should do is copy, paste this into ChatGPT and say, Explain it like I'm five, which I highly recommend trying do that for like anything. And it's amazing how good it is at that. But then nobody will.
David Leary: [00:23:52] Need to listen to our show. Blake People will just do that and eliminate us. Well, no.
Blake Oliver: [00:23:56] Because copy paste is a lot of work and this way you can just, you know, queue up the podcast episode and hit play while you mow the lawn. So this was a study released in March that found that firms are far more likely to remove a partner from a continuing engagement when the partner has issued an adverse internal control opinion for any clients in the previous year. This is an Accounting Today. I'm reading from the article here. The researchers found that individual partners who issued negative opinions about a client's internal controls experience unfavorable changes in their client portfolios in the form of lower fees and less prestigious client assignments. The negative consequences for partners were most dire when their adverse opinions were issued about the firm's more important clients. So it hurts their careers.
David Leary: [00:24:45] If you do a better job, if you do your job.
Blake Oliver: [00:24:49] If you do your job as an auditor and you fault clients internal controls, you create a problem for the firm and you get punished for it. I mean, we've all known this is true and now the researchers have proven it. They've demonstrated this to be true. And it makes you wonder, like how how can the current state of audit continue? When it's like this obvious that auditors are not independent of their clients. Like, why would this happen? What's the reason for this?
David Leary: [00:25:24] Are you asking me.
Blake Oliver: [00:25:25] The reason this is sort of a that was a hypothetical question, I guess. I mean.
David Leary: [00:25:29] Well, my guess is because they have a consulting contract over here. Right. And they don't want to piss off the client, I guess. I mean, it's a paying client.
Blake Oliver: [00:25:40] So. What what what they found, too, is like specifically that when engagement partners issue adverse internal control opinions to any of their clients, they're more likely to be reassigned after the opinions are issued, and especially with clients for whom they are doing Sarbanes-Oxley. 404 b Internal Control audits. So negative consequences.
David Leary: [00:26:03] So I'm trying to understand, like what is the motivation of doing the audit correctly at all? Your career gets screwed up if you don't report stuff you find nobody wants to report it because it could impact your consulting engagements. Why do the audits at all at this point in any way, shape or form?
Blake Oliver: [00:26:22] Well, I mean, I think this is the problem why a lot of people leave audit, right. Is because if you want to do a good job, you get punished for doing a good job. And you find that out at the staff level, the manager level, like the the more you dig, the more you find, the more you get reassigned because what is the firm ultimately want? How does it make money? By issuing opinions. They don't want to have to issue an adverse opinion. They don't want to lose the client. They don't want to cause problems for the client. It creates more work for the firm and creates problems for the client. Like this is this is the fundamental conflict of interest that no amount of ethics training can fix. It's the it's the the system. So then I, I see articles like PCAOB turns up the heat on auditors.
David Leary: [00:27:09] Had that one open. Yeah. On the same page.
Blake Oliver: [00:27:13] So during a virtual keynote session Thursday at Baruch College, I guess they were doing a financial reporting conference in New York. Erica Williams, who is the chair of the PCAOB, pointed to growing trends in significant audit deficiencies highlighted in Part one A of the PCAOB inspection reports. Quote, We found that audits with part one A deficiencies increased 5% in our 2021 inspections to 34%, compared to 29% in the 2020 inspections. And that means that a third of the audits we inspected had deficiencies of such significance that PCAOB staff believed that audit firms fail to obtain sufficient and appropriate audit evidence to support their opinions on public companies, financial statements or internal controls over financial reporting. A third of all audits.
David Leary: [00:28:02] So I'm loosely going by this math. Chatgpt could just good enough to get these same results right in its current form. Even though my theory passed the exam. Yeah.
Blake Oliver: [00:28:16] So, you know, you wonder why we have trouble. Why do we have trouble recruiting and retaining? Like, let's just say this. Why do we have trouble getting students to want to become accounting majors and then stick around and go into public accounting? I mean, a third of the audits that they're working on are so deficient that investors should not be relying on the financial statements. Like they shouldn't be relying on the audit opinion that the financial statements are accurate. Like that's a huge failure rate, right? I mean, would you even pass the CPA exam with.
David Leary: [00:28:50] You have the this generation, this everybody wants to have their work and careers be fulfilling or what's what's the word I'm looking for here? Blake, You want.
Blake Oliver: [00:29:01] To you want to have meaning in your life, right?
David Leary: [00:29:03] Meaning? Right. Everybody wants meaning. Nobody wants a 9 to 5 job anymore. And so this next generation, they come out, they decide they want to be accountants, they graduate, they get their CPA exam, they work on an audit and realize it means nothing. Like could you imagine like the psychological blow to all the work you've put in for the last five, six years of your life to find out the work you're doing absolutely means nothing. Yeah.
Blake Oliver: [00:29:25] And it's it's sad to me because, like, that's not accounting broadly, that's just accounting and auditing, I should say. That's just auditing for publicly listed companies, which you do at the big Big Four doing these massive audits that have these inspection problems. That's not what we do for small businesses. That's not what the people that you and I talk to every day, the small firm owners are doing. They are actually helping small businesses survive, thrive. They're getting through tax compliance with them, helping them plan, helping them retire, helping them sell businesses. That's really exciting and amazing and fulfilling. And we talk to those people all the time when we go to conferences and we have guests on the show. And that's not not what these young accountants are being exposed to. They're just being ground through the machine of getting these audits out the door that are deficient. Or a lot of them are right, just doing the bare minimum to pass a PCB inspection and they're not even passing those.
David Leary: [00:30:25] And then the problem with the PCB we brought up before is a lot of people in the PCB either come from the big firms or go take a job at a big firm right afterwards. They're not going to punish their friends for these actions. Yep.
Blake Oliver: [00:30:38] They call that regulatory capture. That's the name of it. Okay, so while we're on this, we might as well just nail them. Nail the Big Four three failed us. Banks had one thing in common KPMG. This was a story in Financial Times. That. I just tweeted a picture of this headline and said KPMG in the hot seat. And that tweet got. I mean, last time I checked, it was like 179,000 impressions. I don't get that much action. Is this your.
David Leary: [00:31:08] Greatest tweet or LinkedIn post ever?
Blake Oliver: [00:31:10] Like, it might be my biggest tweet of all time, which I like did not expect. But this was very, very popular. At least popular to like and retweet and share. Yeah. All three of the failed banks, the big failed banks recently Silicon Valley Bank Signature and First Republic were audited by KPMG. I found it really fascinating just how much of the banking industry KPMG audits. There's a chart here in the story. Kpmg audits the largest proportion of US listed banks by total assets, like $6 trillion of assets audited by KPMG. Pwc is next at 5 trillion E, way lower at two, and Deloitte has less than 1 trillion in assets that they're auditing for banks. And I think it's 14%. 14% of US banks are audited by KPMG.
David Leary: [00:32:04] So just by seeing this, isn't there like an an audit or an accounting ethics guideline as far as like undue risk or introducing undue risk? Is that a concept?
Blake Oliver: [00:32:18] Oh, like like, I mean, there's a there's a risk assessment that has to happen. Like you have to assess the risk of financial statement, you know, misstatement.
David Leary: [00:32:29] But what about it's just like I can't audit, you know, my brother in law. Like if my brother's a CEO of a company, I have to disengage myself from that engagement. But like, there's no overall guidance for somebody like KPMG. Like maybe you have too much, too many banks, maybe maybe too many eggs in one basket here. Like there's no I.
Blake Oliver: [00:32:48] Think this is I think.
David Leary: [00:32:49] Your principle you bring a you.
Blake Oliver: [00:32:51] Bring up a good point. It's like this whole too big to fail idea. Right. Which happens with banks. We've got, you know, Chase and Bank of America and Wells Fargo. And I think there's one other. And we know they're too big to fail. Like they will be bailed out by the government if something happens, just like in the Great Recession and we have four big auditing firms. But really we don't we only have two when it comes to banks, KPMG and PWC. So like it really is a it's a duopoly there and we all know that. You know, the fewer providers there are, the less quality you get and the higher prices you get. Like this is this is what our system has created is a system where there's just no there's not accountability because there's only two players. Like who's going to pick up the audits if KPMG gets fired? I guess PWC, who's going to pick up the audits of PWP, gets fired. Kpmg Right, Like it just goes back and forth. So I just wanted to share that with our audience. I had no idea that it was that concentrated. And of course, the question now is like, will KPMG be held accountable for any of this? It all rests with the PCAOB. The PCAOB will.
Blake Oliver: [00:34:03] Probably inspect these audits and they'll look at the work papers and they'll look at the analysis and they'll have to decide, did KPMG fail to issue a critical audit matter about this interest rate risk? And. I don't know. I guess I feel kind of the same way I feel about the whole. Case against Trump in New York where there's a case there, but it's super thin, right? It's like it's not great. And the way auditing standards have been written. I think KPMG probably is going to be hard to make a case against them that they should have done something because of the way the the law is. So the same way as with the Trump organization. What's the actual crime? It's normally a misdemeanor, is falsifying business records, is a misdemeanor. And they're going to try to elevate it to a felony through adding another crime. Like that's kind of a it's a stretch, right? You've got to add the other crime, make it a felony. Convince a jury of this. Same thing with the with KPMG and the PCAOB. You got to really like make a strong argument that they should have issued a critical audit matter. And a lot of this is up to subjective judgment. So who's going to question that audit partner?
David Leary: [00:35:15] Well, especially because the accounting rules for banks arguably need to change and KPMG is just going to work off what the current rules are. They don't have to apply extra judgment, regardless of what that guy said in that article at the beginning of the show about how accountants apply experience and judgment. Like apparently they don't really do that.
Blake Oliver: [00:35:35] Well, we don't. We we've protected ourselves by, you know, regulating, by writing the standards such that it's the auditors are not held accountable. We protected ourselves. So, you know, people from KPMG do audits of banks and then they go work at the FASB and PCAOB. And they look out for their buddies like this is natural. But that's created the situation we're in now. And you know who bears the brunt of it? It's these young 20 something auditors who were on these engagements that are like, Oh, no, what have I done? Right there, the engagement team is is bearing the blame for all of this. But it's really the regulators. Who are the accountants to write? They are to blame for it.
David Leary: [00:36:24] It's 25 years, 30 years, 40 years of history. But you're right, the 22 year old kid in the team he's on is the one that's going to get the ax for this. Yeah. Yeah.
Blake Oliver: [00:36:32] And you think that guy is going to or girl's going to want to stay in accounting after this? You know, having been on the audit engagement team like all these, you know, it's like it's not the place you want to be, right? All your friends are making fun of you, right? Oh, you audit banks. Nice job for KPMG. Nice job. What else you got, David? Shall we go into app news.
David Leary: [00:36:52] Before we go into App news? I just saw some interesting numbers. When you think about, you know, as you're offering your services and, you know, already competing with TurboTax and H&R Block and the tax shops and all of that. And so this is from Insider Radio.com. And essentially it's about the ads that were ran for leading up to Tax Day 2023 by the top 20 brands. And it has both the radio ads and TV ads. As you want to bring it up, I think you have the article. It's very interesting numbers when you start thinking about these the scale.
Blake Oliver: [00:37:22] So so this is from inside radio. And this is the. Chart says top 20 brands by total adds leading into Tax Day 2023.
David Leary: [00:37:32] So for the listeners that can't see this, TurboTax ran 637 382,000 ads on the television. Wow. Do you really think your Google ad spend is going to work there like.
Blake Oliver: [00:37:46] That dwarfs Jackson Hewitt? Jackson Hewitt is next with 145,000 TV ad spots. But they but they did more radio. Interesting. Jackson Hewitt owned radio.
David Leary: [00:37:57] H&r Block, I know. Dialed back to. Yeah, they barely did anything.
Blake Oliver: [00:38:03] Yeah, 86,000 total across TV and radio, but mostly TV. Quickbooks. Quickbooks, by comparison, had, what, 67,000? Hmm.
David Leary: [00:38:13] Yeah.
Blake Oliver: [00:38:14] I wonder what they spent on that. Well, hey, you brought up TurboTax and you brought up into it, right? Wasn't there just like a big settlement for TurboTax? Am I going to get some money? Because I did use TurboTax at one point.
David Leary: [00:38:31] I don't know how the settlement is, but people are getting checks because of the whole free, free, free, free, the free.
Blake Oliver: [00:38:38] Free, free thing. So TurboTax customers to receive checks for 141 million in a settlement. This is on AP. This just came out last week. In a settlement last year, TurboTax owner Intuit Inc was ordered to pay $141 million to some 4.4 million people across the country. Those impacted were low income customers, consumers eligible for free federally supported tax services but paid TurboTax to file their federal returns across the 20 1617 and 18 tax years due to, quote, predatory and deceptive marketing, unquote. New York Attorney General Letitia James said, Oh yeah, I remember this one. So the checks are going out. How much are they getting? 29 to $85.
David Leary: [00:39:22] All right. Oh, that's like the price of TurboTax and TurboTax live. So you can use you can use it for your next year's return.
Blake Oliver: [00:39:28] Do you think do you think they'll send it out as like a free coupon for your next year of TurboTax?
David Leary: [00:39:33] No, I think he got his real checks because lawyers don't want a percentage of coupons. I'm joking. It real checks.
Blake Oliver: [00:39:41] They got his real checks.
David Leary: [00:39:43] Uh, do you see? We have some listener mail this week?
Blake Oliver: [00:39:46] Yeah, we did. Shall I pull up some of that? So this is from Jason Brown. Jason Brown said you guys constantly harp on the 120 150 hour issue. And sure, there are issues with the system as it stands. However, I don't think the solution to the accountant shortage is to devalue the CPA license. How about paying more? I work in private industry and the jobs I see when I apply are generally offering atrocious pay and no remote options. On the few occasions I do find a role that meets my requirements. There are so many applicants that I don't even get an interview. If the pay and benefits were right, there would be plenty of CPAs as things stand now. I would encourage my child to be a software developer instead of a CPA because companies hiring developers are willing to pay for employees. Cpa firms could take a lesson there. So pay. More. And solve the talent shortage problem is that you can't force firms to pay more. Right. The market determines what accountants are worth when it comes to their salaries, I mean, especially in private industry. So. I think this goes back to what we were talking about with audit and financial statements and making them useful is that if investors aren't finding audit opinions useful, if audits are failing, if financial statement information isn't trustworthy, if it's not giving them what they need, they're not going to value it. And if they don't value it, then it's just viewed as a compliance activity. And so of course salaries will be as low as possible because when you're fulfilling a strict compliance role, that's that's what happens, right? It's just what's the least I can pay to get my financial statements printed? What's the least I can pay to get somebody to audit those? Right? It's a commodity that gets driven to the a ripple effect.
David Leary: [00:41:35] Right? If Wall Street doesn't value accountants, why should Main Street value accountants?
Blake Oliver: [00:41:40] Yeah. Well, and but again, like, that's where you want to be, right? If you want to be valued as an accountant. You're not going to get it working in financial reporting at a big corporation that's just doing it because they got to do it because of the law. It's going to be working with small businesses to help them grow. Or working with private companies to help them grow. Like just like not doing the compliance. Right. And I think that's what I see successful firms do, is they do the compliance, but the value is not in the tax return. The value is in everything else that goes around getting the tax return done. And same thing with the bookkeeping, right? It's not about just putting together a trial balance to give to your tax preparer. There's all the other things that come into it, like, I'm going to manage your payroll for you. I'm going to manage your bills for you. I'm going to help you with whatever comes up. I'll be your money guy. Right. That's where the value is at.
David Leary: [00:42:38] So just changing the world.
Blake Oliver: [00:42:43] One, one, one listener at a time. I think things are starting to shift. I think people are starting to see, see, you know, audit for what it is. Start to question it. You know, I think when. When the messaging was controlled all from the top down. Aicpa Nasba They repeated the Big Four talking points and nobody ever heard any other point of view. And media like podcasting is completely changed this right? You and I, David Nobodies, can have a show and can have an opinion and people will tune in and hear it. And we listen to our listeners who also, you know, probably many of them have no voice in their state societies or boards because those are dominated by people in positions of power. And it's starting to change. And, you know, the talent shortage is actually a good thing because it's forcing these folks who have not listened to actually listen to their members.
David Leary: [00:43:44] Did you say? I think on Twitter, was there a survey or you published on Twitter? There was a survey at BDO Alliance or something. You put a tweet out about one 50 hour rule.
Blake Oliver: [00:43:54] I'm so glad you brought this up. I almost totally forgot. So one of our listeners messaged me and asked to stay anonymous and said that there was a poll at the BDO Alliance meeting in Las Vegas, I think it was the week before last and gave me the results. So shall we shall we look at the results here? I tweeted this.
David Leary: [00:44:17] Can you just quickly explain BDO Alliance is not they're not it's not BDO, it's it's firms that partner together and get support tech support software support from BDO. Is that kind of a BDO alliance works?
Blake Oliver: [00:44:31] I actually don't know the answer to this question. I mean, I'm familiar in general with the concept of like these alliances, you know, like smaller firms joining together under like Aprio has one too. There's an app, I don't know what it's called Aprio Alliance. And so if you're a small firm, it's like being affiliated with Aprio or BDO, but without actually being in the firm. Yeah, you get resources, right? That's my understanding of it anyway. Feel free to correct us viewers if we're totally off base here. So anyway, at the BDO Alliance conference, which, you know, it's a lot of managing partners of these smaller firms getting together with BDO, they did a poll on the 150 hour CPA rule and the results are this okay, keep as is 30 managing partners voted for that. That is 20% of the total. So 20% said just keep the 150 as is. Should we modify it? 33%. 49 of the managing partners said yes, we should modify it. So a third said modify and remove entirely. This is the part that kind of blew my mind. These are managing partners, right? 46% want to remove it entirely. That's 68 of the voters. So if you add together. The people who want to remove it entirely or modify it. That's 80% want it to change. 80% of managing partners of the alliance want to change the 150 hour rule, either by removing it entirely or by modifying it. Only 20% want to keep it the same.
David Leary: [00:46:08] There's some comments about this, though. If you see the comments we're getting.
Blake Oliver: [00:46:13] Brian said that yes, the alliance is smaller, local and regional firms. And I guess, you know, if you think about small firms, regional firms are feeling the pain of the talent crunch most acutely. So. And to them, the benefit of that, like masters, is limited.
David Leary: [00:46:32] O'brien also said that he thinks it was an Audit partners meeting because this didn't come in for tax partners.
Blake Oliver: [00:46:39] Okay. Interesting. So. Audit partners.
David Leary: [00:46:45] Even still 80%. It's a lot.
Blake Oliver: [00:46:49] Yeah, Sarah says. My husband's firm is a BDO Alliance firm. Thanks for joining us, Sarah. Great to see you. David Hall says most organizations typically do not value most support functions until crisis or collapse. Some accounting firms position themselves to meet the market for crisis services and have premium rates are yes, going back to the discussion of like how do you create value? That's a great point. Crisis services charge for the urgent response. So I'm going to Italy. And I had the pleasure of purchasing medevac insurance. I've never experienced this before because like the last time I traveled, I was in my. 20. And I didn't think about that. You know, you don't think about it when you're young and healthy. And it's the coolest thing. You pay a few hundred dollars and if you get sick, if you're hospitalized and you need, you know, you can't travel home. Because you're in the hospital, they'll fly a jet to you. It's like equipped, like a hospital bed and everything. Like it's like a medical jet and fly you home from anywhere in the world. Now that's value, right? Like for the amount I pay to have the peace of mind knowing I can just get home on like some private plane with.
David Leary: [00:48:09] I would just stay in Italy for a little longer.
Blake Oliver: [00:48:12] Just recuperate.
David Leary: [00:48:13] That doesn't seem like a good use of money in Italy. You want to touch on a couple of quick app news?
Blake Oliver: [00:48:20] Yeah, What else you got?
David Leary: [00:48:21] So just really quick, quick, quick, quick. Melio has now launched inside of Shopify. So Shopify has now built in Bill Pay and that's powered by Emilio. And then Emilio also launched an iOS app this week. I saw that as well. So if you if you want mobile Emilio that's available there um gap ify who it's almost like setting up accounting automation as a service right They they they use proprietary tools to, if you want to automate your processes in house through RPA, they can come help set all that up. They just, they just raised $10 million. And the other one is, it's kind of interesting if you go to translucent.io, this is the former Receipt Bank founder. He launched it a new he's calling it the CFO super app and it looks like it does some sort of multi, multi entity reporting. It has some live sheets by analytics. It helps doing the close checklist. It also apparently is going to help pull together data that's. You know, not all finished. I don't know the better way to say that. So you have half a transaction over here. You have the receipt scan over here. Maybe you have something else over here through a bank feed. And it's supposed to pull those together to clean up that data as well. But it's like you said, a CFO super app.
Blake Oliver: [00:49:45] So I always wonder about apps like this because it just at first glance it looks like they're trying to ingest all the data into a single data warehouse. And my problem with that has always been keeping it synced properly. Like one SaaS tried to do this back in the day to be a one platform to manage all your data, and I always had sync errors like never got it to work perfectly and then the sync errors would just destroy my life. Ended up being one of my least favorite things I ever tried to do.
David Leary: [00:50:16] Yeah. So and at this time it does look like it's a little heavy for either the UK or Down Under because it's, it's connecting to exact MYOB, Penny Lane, Sage, I mean, just QuickBooks and Xero as well. But a lot of these other products tend to be, you know, down under.
Blake Oliver: [00:50:32] We'll have to keep an eye on it. So you said that's the founder of Receipt Bank Receipt Bank. Yep. That's awesome. I mean, if somebody can do it right, somebody with a track record like that might might be able to. Um, Anchor integrated with Zapier. Did you see that, David?
David Leary: [00:50:48] Oh, I did. I saw it in the app, but I did not see news about it.
Blake Oliver: [00:50:52] I saw I got an email about it. So anchor is a proposal software, you know, consider that in addition to ignition depending on your needs and now they have Zapier integration. I think it's going to be really powerful. You could do a lot with it. And I think my favorite thing about it is what? It's $5 per payment flat. So if you're doing high value ach. Then you don't get hammered on like percentage fees.
David Leary: [00:51:22] Yeah, it's set up for that subscription business model. Right. Getting people to pay up front, pay you automatically and taking you your firm or your company. You don't have to be in the billing process. Other new. Well, you spoke about insurance for your flight to Italy or your your in case but QuickBooks has discontinued their insurance. So QuickBooks in 2020 they were going to announce plan to offer QuickBooks commercial customers. So business insurance through a company they partnered with called Next Insurance. And they were going to offer that through QuickBooks Online payroll. And apparently the it just the distribution models never worked. And so they're pulling the plug on that and they're going to kill that product. The QuickBooks insurance product was that worker's comp insurance. This I don't think this was worker's comp. No, this was no, it's not worker's comp. So the worker's comp product's been around for a very long time. And that led into well, that's been working. Let's do other just.
Blake Oliver: [00:52:20] Business liability insurance. Got it.
David Leary: [00:52:22] Yeah. And it just didn't seem to work. It just couldn't get the traffic or the traction in their goals. So that's going away.
Blake Oliver: [00:52:30] I got one more here on the tech news front. Kpmg signed a deal with Mind Bridge for AI and audits. So Mind Bridge is a statistical machine learning and rules based analytics engine for audit. They're going to incorporate it into KPMG's audit platform. Clara. And use it for all their all their audits. It's a big deal for mine bridge to get this deal. Of course, the these announcements, you always have to take them with a grain of salt because it might just be like KPMG has made it possible now for audit partners to use mind bridge. Mind Bridge then has to go and recruit every single audit partner to use Mind Bridge.
David Leary: [00:53:11] So you're getting to actually use them? Yes. Anybody who's been on the software side of this business and has sold something to a big firm and the big firms like, Yes, we're going to put that on 6000 clients. Two years later, they've put it on to clients. Yes. It's great news headlines, though. It's a great article. But yeah, it's always tough. I forget what.
Blake Oliver: [00:53:30] We call that, but it's like the penetration into a firm of that size is usually the the hardest thing. So this is just the beginning of their journey. We'll see what happens. Well, David, that's all my stories for this week. And we're coming up at the end of our time. Where can listeners follow you online?
David Leary: [00:53:47] We'll see you the next time I see you will be in Italy. Yes.
Blake Oliver: [00:53:52] They can't follow us there, unfortunately, but they can follow us online and get updates from Expensive Con.
David Leary: [00:53:59] So hashtag expense account.
Blake Oliver: [00:54:01] Yeah. Hashtag expense. Akon. So you're @DavidLeary. I am at @BlakeTOliver. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Those are our favorite spots to be and subscribe to The Cloud Accounting Podcast on YouTube. Get notified when we go live. Join us. You can chat with us. It's always fun to see you. Thanks, everyone who joined us for our live stream. I mean it. Ever since we started doing this, David, it's made it so much more fun to record. I love talking to you, of course, don't get me wrong, but it's just so much fun to get the live input.
David Leary: [00:54:34] From our listeners. I like how we can say something wrong and somebody is like, Oh no, this is what it is and they clarify it for us. Oh yeah, it's great.
Blake Oliver: [00:54:40] I don't have to go fix that in post-production anymore, right? We can just do it live right on the air in the episode.
David Leary: [00:54:47] All right. And then I think our plan is that expensive con is we're going to try to shoot and record little videos every day and hopefully get those out the next day. Like we think we have a loose plan on this. So watch for that every day. You should see some some cloud accounting podcast videos going on.
Blake Oliver: [00:55:04] We're going to try every day daily content. I'll see you. I'll see you in person in Italy, David.
David Leary: [00:55:11] Couple days and I'll get back to my other conference. Bye, everybody. Bye.