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Accounting News Roundup: ‘Tesla of Accounting’ and Artificial Intelligence | 10.23.17

Grant Thornton

Mike McGuire aims to make Grant Thornton the Tesla of accounting” is the Accounting Today headline, and I guess that means GT is going electric? Or will start throwing estimates to the wind? I kid, I kid. McGuire explains:

[H]e doesn’t see his firm as just positioning itself against the Big Four. “Tesla does not go out and market themselves by saying we’re not a Big Three automaker, but they say we’re Tesla,” said McGuire. “That’s the way we are at Grant Thornton. We’re innovative. We want to lead the industry. We don’t want to be the biggest. We don’t want to be compared to anybody. We just want to be Grant Thornton. That’s it. We don’t consider ourselves anything other than who we are and who we want to be, and as Grant Thornton as the most innovative accounting firm that can help our clients transform through all the disruption that they’re starting to see in the industry. And we’re structured differently to make quick decisions and get on with it, and I think that’s a big difference. We actually think that our size is a big advantage for us.”

I guess I’d buy this analogy a bit more if the Big 4 were like the Big Three automakers in terms of not going bankrupt or not needing bailouts. Which isn’t to say that the Big 4 don’t have their own existential problems; most people just don’t seem to care about the possibility of accounting firms biting the dust. But anyway, McGuire says, “[W]e aspire to be Grant Thornton, and we are Grant Thornton,” so there doesn’t seem to be too much of an identity crisis here.


Here’s a thing artificial intelligence expert Calum Chace said at the AICPA fall Council:

“I think accountants’ main role in the context of AI is in their capacity as humans rather than in their capacity as accountants,” he said. “… They are very well-respected, and many of them can play a leadership role in their communities.”

The trick, of course, is convincing accountants that their “main role in the context of AI is in their capacity of humans rather than in their capacity as accountants.” In other words, stop worrying about the threat to your livelihood and start getting esoteric about it. That seems…like a hard sell? Perhaps I’m wrong, but accountants getting all “How to stop worrying and love the robots” strikes me as unlikely. Elsewhere in machines taking over: PwC creates drone data application for power sector

Previously, on Going Concern…

In Open Items: Masters in IT? And Deloitte or EY audit?

In other news:

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