Can ChatGPT Do Advisory Work?

The generative AI model ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, has been out over a year now. Yet, roughly half of the accounting professionals taking my ChatGPT webinars haven’t found the time to try it out yet. In this article, I want to give you a sneak peek into just one of the many tasks ChatGPT can perform for you to potentially shorten your day.

Let’s say you have a client with some advisory questions. They want to know the answers to the following four questions based on sales data for a particular period:

  1. Who is my largest client?
  2. Which product sold the most?
  3. Which month did the best?
  4. Was there a day of the week that performed better than others?

How long would this take you to complete in Excel (especially question 4?)  In ChatGPT, it takes less than ten minutes, and here is a partial peek at the results:

ChatGPT output:

To summarize:

Your largest client is “Kookies by Kathy”.

The product that sold the most in terms of quantity is “D”.

The month with the highest sales is January.

The best-performing day of the week in terms of sales is Saturday.

Is there anything else you’d like to explore or any other questions you have regarding the dataset?​

And this is one of four graphs it generated for me when I asked it. It also generated an Excel file of the graphs in separate sheets with the native data so I can edit them. Please note I am working with test data; it is never appropriate to enter real customer names into the very public ChatGPT app.

Here’s what I did in detail using the model called ChatGPT 4.0 with analysis, a paid version (a whopping $20/month), available at

First, you need a file of sales data that includes customer, product, quantity, product price, date, and optionally, order or invoice number. SURPRISE! ChatGPT 4.0 as well as the beta model ChatGPT with plug-ins can read, edit, and create many types of files, including Microsoft formatted files, PDFs, numerous graphic types and more. (ChatGPT 3.5, the free version, cannot read files.)

Since I am working with test data, I asked ChatGPT to generate a file of sales orders for me based on given parameters. If you want to work with live client data in the very public tool ChatGPT, you’ll need to anonymize the data to protect your clients. That means using customer numbers instead of names, stripping out phone numbers, emails, and addresses, substituting product codes instead of descriptions, and the like. If your company has acquired a private enterprise model of ChatGPT, you may not have this constraint; ask your AI officer for your usage policy.

Second, you will need to write the command, or prompt, that you’ll give to ChatGPT to execute the task. Here’s mine:

Provide an analysis of this file of sales orders. Some questions i would be intrigued by include: who is my largest client; which product sold the most; which month did the best? was there a day of the week that performed better than others? 

You can see that you don’t have to tell ChatGPT how to compute these, you don’t have to map the data columns, and you don’t have to define a bunch of stuff. This prompt worked for me in the August through October 2023 time frame. Another prompt did better in December:

Can you read and parse this file?

Follow-up prompt was the same: Some questions i would be intrigued by include: who is my largest client; which product sold the most; which month did the best? was there a day of the week that performed better than others? Let’s think step by step. 

One of many things that makes ChatGPT interesting is that it is non-deterministic, which is a fancy word for the fact that it generates a different answer every time, even if you feed it the identical prompt. A very important thing to remember about ChatGPT is that its results are based on patterns, not logic. For that reason, unless it writes a computer program to perform this analysis which will infuse the logic we need into its answer, it will get the math wrong.

As ChatGPT processes the prompt, it will show its work, including the code for all computer programs it writes to generate the output. In December, it gave me one graphic file of all four graphs and here is a screen print of the partial output.

The time-consuming part of this application for live client data would be to merge the anonymized data back into something presentable to the client. You, as the expert, will also need to check ChatGPT’s work because there are times, especially with math, where the program will generate the wrong answer, called hallucinations.

Only you can determine whether ChatGPT will save you time with this type of application. But the most important piece of knowledge I’d like you to take away from this article is that ChatGPT can do this task in the first place, along with literally millions of other tasks relevant to tax and accounting work. And it does it in an easy-to-learn user interface that consists of a conversational chat.

Want to learn more about ChatGPT and its capabilities? Check out our courses on ChatGPT, offered as a deep discount bundle or separately: