Engine B, a next-generation AI-driven professional services technology company, today announced it has created its first scalable Copilot, using the latest tools from Microsoft and the Azure OpenAI Service. Engine B has used its expertise in providing firms with broad and deep client data to build a unique platform on which Copilots can be quickly and accurately created to solve audit, tax, internal audit or accounting use cases.
The first Copilot has been designed to save its clients time in the audit process as well as reducing risk in the audit industry. The Copilot acts like an extra audit team member rather than a simple analytics tool, with the auditor ready to approve the Copilot’s decisions and rationale before they move on to tasks requiring their human skill and experience.
Designed with the user in mind
The company consulted with 20 accounting and audit firms in July 2023 to better understand which of their issues and challenges could be helped with the creation of a Copilot infrastructure. This process resulted in the development of plans for more than 20 Copilots, all of which will help accountants and audit professionals significantly reduce time spent on tasks that are ripe for automation. As Copilots are built for different use cases they will be able to interact with each other to add value across engagements, clients and firms. Copilots will mean professionals will spend more time making higher-value decisions, based on intelligent data insights, their expertise and their professional training.
Michael Izza, Chief Executive, ICAEW said, “Accounting firms are rapidly exploring generative AI solutions to drive efficiencies and improve quality for clients. We believe these new technologies should sit alongside and support the user, which is why we welcome the development of Copilots. Providing they are secure and built using the best technologies available, Copilots can simplify complex tasks, accelerate processes, and provide valuable guidance and support to users. When integrated with widely available products, such as those from Engine B and Microsoft, Copilots are available to all firms regardless of size, allowing them to deliver cost-efficient and quality-led services to clients.”
Engine B’s first Copilot has been designed to address the Lease Accounting process. While other tools have been used before for elements of this, the Copilot responds to complex questions using the latest generative AI advancements. The Copilot reads client leases before making judgements based on appropriate standards and methodologies, and then uses the client’s financial data from the Integration Engine to ensure the lease has been accounted for correctly. Responses are given to the auditor and their working papers tools with explainable evidence for how decisions have been made. This represents a huge time-saving and allows the auditor to get on with auditing rather than manually comparing data.
Andrew Paul, Audit Software and Technical Manager, Baker Tilly international said, “We believe an audit is not just a legal necessity but an opportunity to provide additional value to stakeholders. As a network, we are exploring Generative AI and Copilot technologies as we believe that these tools can support our intelligent and robust approach to auditing. We are particularly interested in the ability of these technologies to analyse huge amounts of data that would have taken previous products hours and days. We look forward to vendors such as Engine B bringing these solutions to the market and exploring how they can be applied across a wide range of use cases.”
A roadmap for the future
Further Copilots are already in development at Engine B including related parties and due diligence, going concern and resilience, analysing disclosures, and others that support Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) assurance and tax advice.
Uli Homann, Corporate Vice President and Distinguished Architect, Cloud and AI, Microsoft said, “We believe that chat interfaces and large language models can empower professionals to ask for what they want in natural language and get the best possible assistance. At Microsoft, we call this having a Copilot for any task, in any industry. Engine B is a pioneer in applying this technology to the accounting industry, with their secure and standardised data platform. We are proud to partner with them and support professional services firms globally to explore the potential of Copilots for audit and tax engagements.”