New report by Thomson Reuters shows that industry professionals expect generative AI to dramatically impact the way they work now, creating new opportunities and posing new challenges
The way we work in professional services is undoubtedly undergoing a massive sea change. This revolution, driven by the novel yet undeniable power of generative artificial intelligence (AI), is increasing apace as professional organizations across industries are beginning or continuing to adopt AI into their everyday workflows.
To better understand this revolution and delve into the insights and perspectives of those facing this change on the front lines of their professions, Thomson Reuters today released a new wide-ranging Special Report, Future of Professionals, which surveyed more than 1,200 individuals working internationally in the legal, tax & accounting, global trade, risk management, and compliance fields who are employed at firms, corporate in-house departments, and government agencies based in North America, South America, and the United Kingdom. The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of how the macro-trends impacting professional services businesses are converging with their talent, their customers, and their environment — and how AI, tech, and automation specifically will impact their operations over the next five years.
Among the critical insights, the survey showed that more than two-thirds (67%) of respondents said they believe AI will have a transformational or high impact on their profession over the next five years. Further, almost as many (66%) predicted that AI actually will create new professional career paths.
By any measurement, the report makes clear that generative AI will become a game-changer in the professional services industries, from legal and tax & accounting to corporate and government work.
“Many of the innovations we use today have crept up on us, evolved, and gradually changed the way we work and play. But not generative AI — this is different,” says Steve Hasker, president and CEO of Thomson Reuters, adding that generative AI “has captured our collective imaginations and changed everything.”
Most survey respondents were optimistic around the power of AI, with 45% saying their biggest hopes for AI was in improved productivity, internal efficiency, and client services. Additionally, 67% of respondents indicated their biggest personal motivator was producing high-quality advice — a critical insight considering that to work in the era of generative AI, professionals need to reconsider and redefine what it means to be an advisor and configure their business models to better prepare and service customers now and in the future.
Indeed, respondents’ expectations of improved efficiency and increased productivity due to the power of AI was a common thread throughout this report. “Through the application of AI to perform more mundane tasks, professionals have the unique opportunity to address human capital issues such as job satisfaction, well-being, and work-life balance,” Hasker explains. “This will in turn unlock time for professionals to focus on complex work that adds value to their client’s needs.”
Naturally, of course, many respondents struck some notes of caution around generative AI use in the workplace, including concerns over accuracy, with 25% or respondents citing this concern; job loss (19%); demise of the profession altogether (17%); data security (15%); and ethics (15%).
The Future of Professionals Report also broke down key findings in several critical professional service industries, including:
Legal — Among legal professionals, improved productivity and efficiency were seen as the biggest positive effects of AI (75% and 67%, respectively). And among those respondents at law firms more than half (55%) see AI as an opportunity for increased revenue and lower costs. Further, a large majority (81%) of legal respondents said they expect new services that will create new revenue streams to emerge within the next five years.
A majority (58%) also said they anticipate a rise in their professional skill level, while more than two-thirds of legal professionals see a more consultative approach to advice emerging.
Tax & Accounting — Tax & accounting professionals saw generative AI as a way to free up their time to deliver more value to clients, as more than half (59%) cited productivity as the highest priority for tax & accounting firms, and three-quarters (75%) cited internal efficiency as the highest priority for corporate tax & accounting departments.
Among individual tax & accounting respondents, producing high-quality advice topped the list of personal motivators for more than two-thirds of professionals (67%). Professionals also predicted new career paths will become available (66%), including a rise in roles that do not require traditional tax qualifications (68%), over the next five years.
Government — Talent issues tend to be a higher priority for government professionals than for their corporate counterparts, and government respondents tend to feel more optimistic that AI can help in areas of training, recruitment, well-being, and engagement.
However, government professionals tend to think that their agencies’ AI adoption will be slower than that of their private sector counterparts, due mainly to data security fears and general resistance to change.
You can access the complete Thomson Reuters Future of Professionals Report here.