An AI-enabled profession: Key takeaways from the 2023 Executive Roundtable

At, we focus on identifying trends impacting accounting and finance professionals and the tools, technologies and strategies they will need to navigate new paths. As part of this effort, we recently held our annual AICPA/ Executive Roundtable, which convenes C-suite leaders from across the accounting and technology ecosystem to gain insights and exchange ideas on how to best serve the profession and their clients and organizations. We call it fueling co-opetition.

Here are top takeaways from the 2023 event:

AI: It's not if, but when
Embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies can no longer be long-term goals. Advanced technologies are embedded in nearly every consumer product and service that we use daily. They’re reshaping expectations for how we live and work—and, as a result, changing client expectations for how firm services are delivered.

We’re already seeing an abundance of new AI-enabled tools that will allow firms to meet changing client expectations. They’re enabling practitioners to improve processes, streamline numerous mundane tasks, enhance analyses and deliver the deeper business insights and strategic advice that their clients are looking for. And that trajectory appears to only increase with the growing hype around generative AI (GenAI) producing new applications and integrations almost daily.

Of the 45 cutting-edge software providers participating in the event, all but four had an AI solution in the works or already on the market. A few of those solutions that stood out include:

  • Instead by Corvee can help accountants determine whether a client qualifies for an R&D credit, write 2,500 to 10,000+ word memos supporting the position, and complete the credit all the way to support the filing. The Instead AI Tax Assistant can also guide you through completing the credit for federal and state jurisdictions.
  • Digits has developed proprietary technology leveraging large language models (LLMs), agents and vector similarity models to automate tedious accounting and bookkeeping tasks.
  • Sage has filed five patents surrounding the safe use of LLMs, and its Intacct software enables accountants to detect anomalies and potential fraud, and integrate payroll, analytics, tax and other products.
  • Thomson Reuters is incorporating AI into audits and tax in areas such as anomaly-based risk profiling and through use of LLMs. They recently made an announcement regarding an annual investment of $100M to AI for their suite of solutions.

This fast response from the solution provider community has made the features and functionality of AI available to firms of all sizes, a sure sign that this technology really does have the possibility to be the next great equalizer. recently launched a multi-part generative AI initiative to help accountants understand the emerging technology and identify how it can be leveraged across practice areas. It includes a toolkit featuring seven steps to build a generative AI strategy, use cases with explanatory videos covering a range of functions that anyone can implement today, a security checklist, glossary of terms and more.

Taking reporting and assurance beyond financial data
Businesses are increasingly turning to CPAs for help as they face new reporting and assurance needs, a trend that is only expected to accelerate. For example, executives cited data quality and access to data as their greatest sustainability disclosure challenges, according to a report from Deloitte. As important new environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting mandates emerge, including the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s climate-change disclosure proposal and California bills SB 253 and SB 261 that were signed into law by Governor Newsom in October, the impact will extend beyond the largest corporations. They’ll soon require ESG-specific reporting from their supply chain. Organizations of all sizes will be seeking help to ensure their information is thorough and accurate.

CPAs are best positioned to deliver on these growing ESG reporting and assurance needs. The profession has a solid and tested assurance framework in place, having long used the AICPA attestation standards to provide assurance on nonfinancial information. The AICPA has also created a range of resources for practitioners in this space. In addition, and Good.Lab, a leading provider of ESG software and consulting services, recently announced a new ESG practice development program to enable accounting firms to respond to growing client demand for ESG advisory services.

Firms are adopting new business and ownership models
Having experienced six years of strong growth, firms are now navigating various business disruptions. A case in point, firms are taking private equity investments, changing the priorities in the firm M&A market. While deals were once made based on revenue size and the number and type of clients, investors now focus on firm capabilities and niches. When it comes to partner transitions, fair market value is replacing previous assessments based on earnings. Practitioners should be prepared to consider whether their current structure and business models are serving their needs and to determine best alternatives.

Change = new opportunities
The profession is clearly at an inflection point, undergoing significant change that can be both exhilarating and unsettling. New technologies and business models are creating exciting opportunities through meaningful disruption. And the impact can extend further beyond just the services that they provide. Embracing technology, expanding practice areas and delivering higher value outcomes can create a powerful advantage in attracting and retaining top talent that are increasingly looking for greater purpose and to deliver meaningful work in their career. Firms can benefit from any of these changes if they are ready to embrace them.

About the author: As’s vice president of Strategy & Innovation, Kacee Johnson manages the technology ecosystem to identify emerging trends that are driving change in the profession and works collaboratively with the vendor and thought-leader community to develop thought leadership content and events for C-suite leaders.

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