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Embracing Tech & AI: Future of the Professional Services

Hosted by Insider Media, Kurt Jacobs

Sponsored by Headpoint Advisors, PwC and Virtual Vaults

Date 20 March 2024


Mark Wilson, managing partner Headpoint Advisors participated in a panel of speakers alongside other professionals.

  • Matthew Woolgar, deals tax partner PwC
  • Oscar van Tol, CTO Virtual Vaults
  • Prof Karen Elliott, chair of practice in finance and fintech University of Birmingham
  • Martin Ward, West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Nicola McNeely, partner head of technology sector commercial team HCR Law
  • Jof Walters, No-Code & Fintech pioneer
  • Hilary Smyth-Allen, executive lead SuperTech WM

The panel shared invaluable insights into the opportunities and challenges presented by the convergence of technology and professional services. Artificial intelligence dominated the discussion ranging from likely impact on risk and investment considerations, impact on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as well as practical steps for board rooms to engage with this transformative technology.

Key takeaways:

  • UK third behind USA and China in level of investment in AI
  • Consensus expectation that AI will be transformative to professional service firms
  • Open-source AI really powerful for certain businesses and use cases, however limitations present issues in professional services, such as data security, source credibility
  • Lots of horses in the AI race so business leaders cautious investing until there are clear winners
  • As generative AI is non-deterministic it currently requires human (partner) sign off before being client ready – how long this will be required is unclear
  • We are facing a clear challenge in that the speed at which AI is developing is far outpacing our ability to regulate
  • In addition to considering how AI will drive productivity enhancement, we also need to assess the defensibility of revenue models and margins
  • Growing urgency for British professional service firms to deploy AI across their firms and develop a culture to embrace AI

Businesses’ AI capabilities and the challenges that digital technology brings are now being factored into decisions over investments and acquisitions. The impact and potential of AI on the sustainability of businesses’ revenue models is now being robustly tested at the due-diligence stage. Increasingly we’re looking at whether a business’s model can be replicated by AI and machine learning, or whether AI can enhance the products and services that it offers clients. For some businesses AI is now an existential issue.

We are still at a very early stage with AI, with no clear road map of where it will go, but many professional service leaders can already see that the potential benefits are substantial, across every part of their firms. There is a huge amount of money being deployed in the area – according to market analysts CB Insights, VC groups invested $42.5bn in 2,500 AI start-up equity rounds last year (2023).

If you wish to understand how the impact of AI affects the value of your business, and the investment or exit options available to you, please submit your details below.

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