A Financial Advisory Leader Reveals Why AI is Critical to Innovation

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Jenna Schwartz, Vice President (Tax), at Richter, explains how AI-based technologies such as Blue J Tax are helping fortify Richter’s position as a leading business advisory firm.

This article is the second in an ongoing series featuring leading practitioners at Canadian law and accounting firms who are leveraging new technologies and implementing innovative strategies to stay ahead of competitors and provide the highest quality advice to their clients.

When a company in any sector decides to bolster their commitment to innovative strategies, they can set themselves apart from their competitors. Selecting the right path to go down, though, is the tricky part, due to the deluge of technologies available for firms increasingly looking to streamline time-sucking processes.

The accounting sector is no different, and now more than ever, firms are turning to AI as a potential game-changer for their business. “By embracing machine learning as a tool, accountants can shift where we’re spending our time from performing menial data preparation and analyses to the drawing of insights from those analyses,” writes Donny C. Shimamoto, managing director of Intraprise TechKnowlogies.

The financial sector is already adopting AI at a rapid clip. A report from McKinsey found financial services to be among the three business niches in the “high AI adoption” region of their analysis, along with high-tech/telecom and automotive. The report goes on to stress one of the key highlights of harnessing AI effectively: “AI can create value in projection and forecasting. Organizations need to constantly anticipate the future to gain competitive advantage.”

For Jenna Schwartz, VP at business advisory firm Richter, she is determined to lead this new wave of innovation. Her workload requires that she seek solutions to what she manages daily: Schwartz advises clients on a variety of issues such as corporate reorganizations and mergers and acquisitions. She also specializes in dispute resolution with government revenue departments.

“Innovation is a tenet of Richter’s legacy,” says Schwartz in an interview. “At Richter, we actively look for what’s next. We don’t rest on our laurels. We continue to evolve as a firm and to adapt to a changing world by evaluating technologies and making sure we’re staying ahead of the curve.”

On the benefits Schwartz sees in AI, she says, “Artificial intelligence enables you to analyze and synthesize information so that you can speak to your clients in more clear and concise terms.”

In addition, AI adoption is helping firms such as Richter streamline their legal research challenges. One such software that’s helping address these challenges is Blue J Tax, a joint initiative between Blue J Legal and Thomson Reuters. The software helps tax practitioners predict in advance how courts will rule in new tax situations, based on their unique factual scenarios.

Before using Blue J Tax certain parts of research were manual and time-consuming. Today, though, Blue J Tax “allows us to do more of the critical thinking and analysis rather than spending time simply searching,” Schwartz says.

“The beauty of Blue J Tax is if you have a particular situation, the system can find cases that most closely match it,” she notes.

Thanks to the leading-edge software using AI as its backbone, Richter’s team can simplify issues such as compliance matters by running a scenario through the software. “Then you can get a sense of where financial items should land and determine if a position that you’re considering would make sense,” Schwartz says.

When a firm such as Richter leans into a vision of the future with AI as the centerpiece, it can propel itself past competitors.

Schwartz says, “Using tools like Blue J Tax allows us to fulfill our promise of providing the best service we can.”

As more firms turn to AI to assist with manual processes that used to eat up time, software such as Blue J Tax will be top-of-mind for the more forward-thinking businesses around the world.

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