Data is Risky Business: I Want My ChatGPT

Daragh O’Brien writes in a recent issue of The Data Administration Newsletter that the world is a-buzz with articles about ChatGPT and other Large Learning Models (LLM) such as Google’s Bard. “The tone and tenor of these articles range from blind hype to abject horror,” he says.

His perspective: “These tools are, quite simply, just tools. As such, they are fraught with the same potential weaknesses as other data management technologies. They have the potential to make aspects of our daily work lives simpler, taking away the drudge tasks that we all have performed in organizations or on projects since the early days of our careers. But, as they are at heart a data management process that ingests source data (training data, prompts) and produces an output.”

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Report on International Work to Develop a Global Assurance Framework for Sustainability-related Corporate Reporting

According to a recently released report also describing work on assurance and ethics, the International Organization of Securities Commissions’ (IOSCO) efforts in this subject area (including independence) standards over sustainability-related corporate reporting has been led by a dedicated workstream under its Sustainable Finance Taskforce (STF).

Overall, sys the report, “stakeholders have expressed strong support for IOSCO to play a key role in coordinating and promoting global consistency in the assurance of sustainability-related information. They have encouraged further engagement and capacity building across the ecosystem. In this report, we often use the term a ‘global assurance framework’ to refer jointly to the assurance and ethics (including independence) standards for sustainability-related corporate reporting.”

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Is It Time for Firms to Transform Their Business Model?

A recent article in the Journal of Accountancy, written by Miti Ampoma, quotes Lisa Simpson, CPA, CGMA, vice president–Firm Services and head of the Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) at AICPA & CIMA, as saying "it's important to acknowledge the effects of the past few years. “Many practitioners in public accounting are feeling burned out. They have been in crisis mode instead of being strategic about where they are going, Simpson said. This was necessary to help clients get through the pandemic, but now firms need to recognize how changes caused by COVID-19 — most notably the technology-fueled explosion of remote work and a talent shortage in many firms — have transformed the workforce and firm-client interactions.”

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New International Foundation for Ethics and Audits Strengthens Independence of the Standard-Setting System

In a press release dated March 27, 2023, the Board of Trustees of the International Foundation for Ethics and Audit (IFEA, or the Foundation) celebrates the launch of the Foundation, which implements a key recommendation contemplated in the Monitoring Group’s July 2020 Recommendations, Strengthening the International Audit and Ethics Standard-Setting System.

According to the press release, the objective in establishing the Foundation is to move the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) and the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) to a new entity that is independent of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).

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TIL EY Has Commoditized Space

A recent article in goingconcern, written by Adrienne Gonzalez, asks if there is any limit to the robust and ever-growing suite of services offered by professional services firms? “Apparently not” she says. “As we’ll learn, not even the sky is the limit.”

She notes that it was less than a year ago that EY put $3 million Aussie bucks into a space business in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology that “will solve big business problems by utilizing space-derived data and services for terrestrial benefit,” per its lead partner Anthony Jones.

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What Private Equity Means for Accounting Firms: Thought Leaders Explore Pros and Cons

Private equity firms have been increasing their investments in accounting firms, says Isaac O’Bannon in a March 15, 2023, article in the CPA Practice Advisor. What does this mean for the future of the profession?

“The recent push by private equity firms towards investment and ownership of professional accounting practices is a sign, at least, that they see the potential to make profit in this area. This can either mean that they believe this market is intrinsically positioned to grow, or that these practices are missing blatant opportunities for revenue expansion. In many cases, the answer is likely a combination of the two,” wrote O’Bannon.

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Responsibilities of Lead Auditors to Conduct High-Quality Audits When Involving Other Auditors

An SEC Statement, released by Paul Munter, Chief Accountant, March 17, 2023, says that, “In this statement, we (1) discuss the auditor’s responsibilities with respect to audits involving other auditors, including members of their own network firms; (2) highlight how the auditor’s responsibilities are incorporated currently in the PCAOB standards, including the PCAOB’s quality control standards; and (3) provide reminders on good practices for audit committees and issuers.”

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Future of Outsourcing IT for Accountants

A March 20, 2023 article in Accounting Insight News says that “the accounting sector is subject to profound change as the digital transformation of the entire financial industry continues to power on. Accounting technology and IT support will have a big impact on how companies operate, with technology solutions set to support and not replace accountants.”

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Microsoft Announces Copilot: The AI-powered Future of Office Documents

An article posted by Tom Warren on The Verge webpage mid-March announces that Microsoft has released a new AI-powered Copilot for its Microsoft 365 apps and services, designed to assist people with generating documents, emails, presentation and much more. The Copilot, powered by GPT-4 from OpenAI, will sit alongside Microsoft 365 apps much like an assistant, appearing in the sidebar as a chatbot that allows Office users to summon it to generate text in documents, create PowerPoint presentations based on Word documents, or even help use features like PivotTables in Excel.

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Women in Business 2023: The Push for Parity

Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) has been casting a light on the issue of gender diversity in senior management at mid-market businesses for 19 years, exposing barriers and identifying facilitators of change.

While progress on the overall number of women in senior leadership continues, this year’s research shows it is concerningly slow. On a global level, 32.4% of senior management positions in mid-market businesses are now held by women, an increase of just half a percentage point (pp) since 2022 and only 13pp since our research was first undertaken in 2004. At this rate just 34% of senior leadership positions will be held by women in 2025. According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap report, it will take another 132 years to address the global gender gap.

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CPA Founding Partner

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), one of the largest national accounting organizations in the world, has chosen to become a founding partner of ThinkTwenty20.