Advisory & Consulting

How advisory firms could use tech to boost efficiency, compliance

Report rationalization, automation helps audit and tax services firms in regulatory compliance.

Protecting sensitive client data and staying clear of potential conflicts of interest have always been watchwords for firms in the auditing, tax advisory and consulting services. Those concerns have heightened with remote working becoming the first resort in pandemic times. Increasingly, those firms are turning to technology solutions such as automation, centralized data warehouses and secure intranet portals to address their new concerns. They are also investing in platforms to take care of ethics and compliance issues, while artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) hold promise of stronger solutions in future. Tax advisory and auditing firms operate in stringent regulatory regimes, and complying with multiple and complex requirements can get challenging. They are attempting to get on top of those issues by introducing fundamental changes in the way they operate. For instance, many of them are incorporating best practices in their respective domains, such as dissolving internal silos that hinder transparency in favor of centralized controls. Many large advisory and consulting firms with global operations are incorporating those best practices across international regulatory jurisdictions in order to achieve common and greater visibility.
Technology interventions to address concerns
Specifically, advisory and consulting firms are bringing a greater focus to implementing robotic process automation (RPA) across departments, which helps reduce the number of people required to carry routine and repetitive tasks. Their other push is in creating a data warehouses in order to have centralized reporting infrastructure. Centralizing ethics and compliance processes across global operations is another major endeavor at many advisory and consulting firms. One major multinational auditing and consulting firm, for instance, is planning to globally roll out an ethics and compliance technology platform it had developed for its U.S. operations. That platform would allow all its member firms globally to raise queries and get clarity on issues relating to ethics, compliance and disclosure requirements in their respective countries. The firm has also invested in an intranet portal, which acts as a centralized portal for documents for all departments as well as a broadcasting tool for the firm to all its employees. During the pandemic, the platform became a vital tool for several employees who wanted to review changes to regulations or rules that regulatory bodies in various countries had introduced. The promise of progressively stronger solutions, AI broadly and machine learning specifically, is also informing the long-term strategies of advisory and consulting firms. Those tools will play a huge role in the years to come in making audits faster and more robust. Machine learning algorithms are already in place to scan legal documents and highlight relevant sections for specific audit assignments. That ability will be particularly useful since advisory and consulting firms typically deal with complex data generated by multiple sources, and reviewing them to extract the relevant insights is cumbersome and time-consuming. Large multinational firms are already collecting early dividends from machine learning algorithms that help them get their arms around those data feeds. Among the most popular is report rationalization, which helps in rationalizing the enterprise wide reports to reduce duplicity of data, saving time and cost, as also in providing a unified view for decision makers. While the pandemic has accelerated the urgency for those changes, they could become permanent features of how advisory and consulting firms are structured and how they operate.
Key takeaways
  • Tax advisory and auditing firms are investing in centralized data warehouses, intranets and report rationalization solutions to smoothly address the day-to-day operational needs.
  • AI and machine learning offer the promise of more robust and more efficient solutions in the foreseeable future.

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