PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has recently entered into a collaboration with OpenAI, aiming to provide AI-generated advice to clients on tax, legal, and HR matters. This strategic move is geared towards both reducing costs and enhancing productivity. Notably, this partnership positions PwC as the first among the Big Four accounting firms to team up with OpenAI. The AI system, distinctively not built on ChatGPT, is described by Bivek Sharma, PwC's COO for tax, legal, and people, as performing on par with a 25-year-old partner. This initiative also involves AI startup Harvey, which receives backing from OpenAI.
AI's Role in Modern Consultancy
A significant factor that might have swayed PwC's decision is a recent study revealing the potential of AI in the consulting domain. The research, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in collaboration with several academic institutions, found that consultants utilizing GPT-4 AI were able to complete tasks with a 40% improvement in quality and 25.1% faster than those not using AI. Interestingly, the study highlighted that the lower-performing consultants experienced the most significant boost from AI, witnessing a 43% surge in performance. The research further categorized consultants into two groups based on their AI usage patterns: those who delegate tasks to AI, termed “centaurs”, and those who incorporate AI into their daily operations, labeled “cyborgs”.
Expansion and Future Implications
Currently, the AI system is undergoing tests and training by approximately 650 PwC employees in the U.K. However, there are ambitious plans to roll out the system to over 10,000 employees across more than 50 countries in the upcoming months. In addressing concerns about potential job losses due to AI integration, PwC has clarified that there will be no immediate job cuts resulting from this partnership.
AI is Making an Impact in the Accounting Industry
Accounting is being transformed by AI in many ways. For example, AI can analyze large data sets and spot anomalies and patterns that humans cannot. This enhances the quality of audit by allowing auditors to review all transactions in real time and detect risky ones more easily. Another example is tax research, which can be simplified by using AI to search for relevant information from different sources using natural language. A third example is invoice processing, which can be automated by using AI to extract key data from invoices and process them faster.