Survey reveals the possible opportunities for the tax profession
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a present reality that is reshaping the way tax professionals work and the value they deliver to their clients. In the new Future of Professionals report, key findings demonstrate how AI can enhance and empower human talent in the tax profession, empowering a new breed of advisors to provide strategic guidance, create new opportunities, and deliver more value than ever before.
How AI can bring about change in tax professional advice
AI can create opportunities for gains in productivity and internal efficiencies, such as more effective and faster client communications and service as well as improvements in giving clients strategic business guidance. Yet, these opportunities are not enough to achieve real transformation. According to our research, real transformation will involve fundamental changes to how tax professionals work and the work they do. In addition, the leadership in establishing these structural and organizational changes will be required to create the conditions for teams to upskill and think strategically about how they can reimagine their role of advisor, create new value with the client, and deliver more value than ever before.
The most common motivator for tax professionals is to deliver high-quality advice to their internal or external clients. AI can bring about a step-change in their ability to do this. Not only will the automation of mundane tasks free up time to focus on higher level tasks, but tax professionals will find creative ways to use AI tools to deliver value in ways we can’t yet imagine.
New career horizons and unconventional credentials
AI will also impact the roles and career paths creating new opportunities for both traditional and non-traditional tax professionals. Our research indicates that more and more bandwidth will be freed up for higher value work, enabling the ability to meet the strategic advisory needs of their clients and to focus on the work for which tax professionals’ skills will be more valuable. Already, many surveyed predict new career paths will become available and increases in non-traditional work roles, such as those that do not require the conventional tax qualifications. In fact, two-thirds of respondents said they anticipate these outcomes will occur between the next 18 months and five years.
AI-empowered tax professionals will begin to deliver advice and value to their internal and external clients in new ways. History has shown us that whenever new technologies are developed; humans use their creativity to employ those technologies in novel ways to better enhance their own abilities.
Reshaping talent, skills, and recruitment through the AI revolution
AI will require tax professionals to acquire new skills and undergo new training and development programs. Our research suggests that this is one of the biggest areas of consensus, with just under 90% of tax professionals expecting basic mandatory AI training for all professionals over the next five years. In addition, 87% of respondents said they believe everyone will need training on new skills, with the majority (55%) saying these needs may not show up until 18 months from now.
Entry to the tax profession will change dramatically, through modernized university and college courses, greater use of apprenticeships, and other more diverse entry points. As new career paths for traditional and non-traditional tax professionals alike are created, entry into firms and departments will need to change dramatically. University and college courses will need to teach how to leverage AI effectively to better help them capitalize on the productivity benefits and use their time to provide value-added advice. Apprenticeships will likely be more appropriate for specialist roles that merge traditional professional skills with more modern skills such as data science.
AI will also affect the recruitment strategies and challenges. Our research indicates that the mix of talent between recruiting for entry-level and for experienced positions will change shape. Overall, the number of tax professionals will increase, but it indicates a slight preference in forecasting a decline in entry-level positions. Lower recruiting budgets also might be an expected reality of AI as it is already bringing some efficiencies to candidate screening. Technology is also seen as a key element in attracting younger talent, who prefer employers who are leaning in on how they utilize technology.
Revolutionizing talent delivery through AI
AI represents a transformative revolution that has been unfolding over several years, characterized by rapid progress and fundamental shifts in paradigms. To navigate the ongoing disruptions effectively and achieve success in both the present and the future, leaders will need to adopt a visionary and strategic capability to spearhead the operational and profit potential of AI. Of particular importance is leaders’ ability to proactively enable the transformation of the future tax professional rather than adopting a passive wait-and-see mentality. Indeed, leaders must use the capabilities of AI to reshape and adapt their previous approaches to talent delivery and the training and development of new skills.
Despite the inevitable disruptive nature of AI in the future, individual tax professionals must be poised to regularly evaluate professional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They also need to develop a career action plan to capitalize on growth opportunities for their tax profession. By doing so, they can unlock the potential positive impacts of AI and effectively navigate the uncertainties that will undoubtedly arise.
As the report notes, “generative AI will not replace highly trained lawyers and accountants, but a lawyer or accountant using generative AI will certainly replace one who isn’t using the technology.” It’s simple enough advice: don’t be among the latter.
To learn more about how AI can help you prepare for the future of work with confidence and optimism, read the full report below.