HBK prides itself on offering the collective intelligence of hundreds of professionals committed to delivering exceptional value to clients. HBK continuously monitors industry trends as one way to provide higher quality services to our clients and help them improve how they conduct their businesses. Whether it’s moving into new sectors or adopting new technologies, we see innovation as a critical differentiator in our fiercely competitive landscape.
Critical to our success is delivering anticipatory services to clients that employ advanced technologies. Combining technology with human expertise and experience, HBK is enhancing our audit and strategic advisory services through our ability to understand and interpret our clients’ increasingly vast and complex data sets. We have deployed MindBridge Ai Auditor to bring artificial intelligence and machine learning to bear on client general ledger (GL) data, giving us a highly intelligent and interpretative risk-based approach to analyzing and reporting on financial health.
How AI offers the opportunity to get ahead
“The technology mandate was issued by our CEO,” said HBK Principal Christopher Marrie. “We want to be on the front end of adapting AI industry solutions. Our more sophisticated clients are also moving to new technologies and they see our commitment as a benefit to them.”
Adopting AI has also attracted new recruits. With technology being a top trend in hiring for public accounting, that HBK can satisfy the demands of an increasingly tech-savvy and analytical workforce is a key advantage.
Bringing AI into the firm
As with any digital transformation, the move to MindBridge Ai Auditor required both a technical plan and people to fit new capabilities into our existing environment. Most critical was getting staff on board.
“Converting to new ways of operating is a challenge in any organization,” Marrie said. “To get the new technology into broad use as quickly as possible, we provided information about how Ai Auditor works—that it isn’t a black box and that it provides transparency to the analysis. We also detailed how it adds value for our clients.”
Training for HBK auditors involved a course curriculum and adoption strategy provided by MindBridge. The courses ran through real-world scenarios, from data ingestion to risk analysis, which proved an excellent path to understanding how the technology works.
“We’ve used other audit software packages that weren’t as easy to implement as Ai Auditor,” said Antonio Ribeira, CPA, Senior Manager at HBK. “They often came with their own set of problems to overcome. But the MindBridge training and adoption teams came in to guide us and we found the process very intuitive.”
Real results with AI
As HBK began using Ai Auditor on client engagements, we found improvements across the board. Having the opportunity to investigate entire general ledgers (GL) in detail and use AI-based scoring to focus on the highest areas of risk has transformed our auditing process.
“The biggest advantage was in planning and testing,” said Marrie. “AI identifies risks and highlights transactions that are particularly difficult to catch. This makes the audit smarter as well as simplifies the process.”
The adoption strategy included getting clients on board with the process, ensuring they were comfortable with a new way of doing things.
With three years of AI experience under our belts, HBK has plans to extend the application of AI.
“Recently, one of our tax clients was considering an exit-business transaction and didn’t have the expertise internally to assess financial risk,” he explained. “With over $50 million in revenue, the business had a level of exposure that was both substantial and complex, but with AI Auditor, the analysis was simple. We could upload the entire GL and tell the client everything that appeared unusual or high risk.”
As traditional audit becomes more transactional and less lucrative for firms, AI opens up new opportunities for the kind of consultative and advisory engagements that deliver higher value for clients.
“It’s almost impossible to come up with a pricing model for going through an entire GL manually,” noted Marrie. “Even coming up with a ballpark estimate for manually doing the things that AI Auditor does by design would be daunting, much less guaranteeing that manual methods would be as effective. It’s clear that the traditional ways of working are going away and AI will evolve how things are done in audit and assurance.”
As we can offer insights and value with AI that we couldn’t before, we are moving toward getting four years of data from clients to report on. It’s as impressive as it is valuable. AI isn’t something that’s up and coming; it’s already here.