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Artificial Intelligence

Will PwC Clients Pay for AI-Generated Corporate Advice?

PwC is now partnering with ChatGPT owner OpenAI to offer artificial intelligence-generated consultancy to clients.

By Faustine Ngila, Quartz (TNS)

Are you ready for what audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) believes is the future of corporate advice?

PwC is now partnering with ChatGPT owner OpenAI to offer artificial intelligence-generated consultancy to clients as a cost-cutting strategy that it also believes will boost productivity.

Erika McKeever, PwC U.K.’s manager of public affairs, told Quartz all AI-generated content used for consultancy will be reviewed by the company’s staff before being submitted to clients. “Staff will use AI to review documents, policy, legislation, general research, and provide greater insights to our clients on a whole array of areas,” McKeever said.

But will clients want to keep paying for advice related to taxation, regulation, and human resources if it is generated by bots?

Why is PwC making a huge bet on AI?

The company, which in April announced plans to invest $1 billion in generative AI across its U.S. operations over the next three years, firmly holds that AI will be a game changer in the global consultancy sector. Bivek Sharma, chief technology officer and head of AI and Alliances at PwC U.K., told Bloomberg “the compliance burden globally is increasing” and clients should start getting used to deploying AI “to navigate these very complex situations.”

While the latest collaboration with OpenAI isn’t built on ChatGPT, in March, PwC partnered with Harvey, an AI startup built on GPT technology, to enhance the delivery of legal services and “enable PwC professionals to identify solutions faster.” The technology was made available to more than 4,000 legal staffers.

The company, which has 191,000 clients globally, also wants to help them build AI tools and train them on how best to use AI, according to its vice chair Mohamed Kande.

PwC’s rival KPMG is also making strides in the use of AI, after partnering with Microsoft in July to use its Azure OpenAI services.

Consulting firm Ernst & Young, which has about 250,000 clients, is also building services atop ChatGPT, albeit, with some caution. According to global CIO Jeff Wong, the company has “a series of clients around the world that are very, very interested in the space.”

Will clients pay for bot-generated consultancy?

However, it remains to be seen if PwC’s clients would pay to be advised by bots as generative AI is known to hallucinate and give wrong answers when prompted for professional advice. In May, a New York attorney was sued for relying on fake citations he generated using ChatGPT for a case he was handling.

Prior to these AI partnerships, PwC had expressed reservations on the use of the technology for client work, warning that it was prone to generating false and misleading information. It, however, allowed its employees to experiment with the technology outside clients’ and company data.

But the growing distrust of AI by people and companies could make PwC’s clients reluctant to pay for AI-generated advice. A recent study by KPMG and the University of Queensland found that 61% of people are skeptical of trusting AI systems and applications. A September survey by CNBC also amplifies this AI distrust—50% of advisers said they couldn’t let AI advise them.

The numbers might only be worse when it comes to corporations deciding to pay millions of dollars for non-human consultation, especially on sensitive realms like tax and legal compliance advice.


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