Jul 30, 2023

ChatGPT: How AI will change law, finance, accounting and property jobs

BOSS asks leaders from key sectors to predict the ways the headline-grabbing bot and other forms of generative artificial intelligence will affect their jobs.

Robots aren’t coming for our jobs quite yet. But professionals who know how to use artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT will soon replace those who do not.

That’s the message from AI experts and business leaders who spoke to BOSS about how ChatGPT – the generative AI tool created by Microsoft-backed OpenAI – is expected to change their respective industries soon.

UNSW professor Toby Walsh says AI will pick up the mundane tasks that workers dread. Ryan Stuart

They say workers must learn how to use these new tools to future-proof their careers, while businesses must train their staff to take advantage of the productivity improvements that AI can offer.

Those who fail to recognise this will be left behind.

“It’s not going to be computers replacing people, it’s [going to be] people who know how to use these tools replacing people who do not know how to use these tools,” says Toby Walsh, chief scientist at UNSW’s AI Institute.

Walsh says every computer program will soon have a tool like ChatGPT built into it, “one that is going to be sitting there waiting to help finish your email, type some stuff into your spreadsheet, write a business plan, or make some slides for your PowerPoint”.

Walsh says artificial intelligence will take responsibility for what he calls the four Ds of work: the dirty, the dull, the difficult and the dangerous.

But he believes AI will never be able to emulate “our social intelligence, our emotional intelligence, our creativity and our adaptability”.

“Those are uniquely human skills,” he says, echoing the sentiments of business leaders from four key industries who spoke to BOSS about how ChatGPT will change their respective professions.

Lawyers have been using AI for years to help them sift through massive datasets in the discovery stage of the legal process.

Programs such as Relativity, Nuix and Reveal identify trends across documents and find specific files that contain crucial information or specific emotions, tones, concepts or sentiments.

Ashurst partner Hilary Goodier says lawyers who know how to use AI will replace those who do not. Pete Wallis

But ChatGPT and other forms of generative AI, which refers to artificial intelligence that can generate new outputs based on the data it is trained on, could help lawyers save time and reduce costs for clients across many more activities.

“Traditional AI is really just filtering content and helping you find the answer more quickly,” says Hilary Goodier, partner and co-head of Ashurst Advance.

Goodier says tools such as ChatGPT will help lawyers conduct preliminary research, write marketing content and draft advice letters and clauses.

She is quick to point out that lawyers cannot solely rely on the content produced by ChatGPT due to its inaccuracy, and must avoid typing in confidential client data. But she agrees that lawyers who can use these tools will eventually replace those who cannot.

Lisa Kozaris, chief innovation and legal solutions officer at Allens, adds that ChatGPT could also be used in legal education and training.

“Can we use ChatGPT to create training materials, for example, or hypothetical scenarios that we use to train lawyers and law students?

“Another one that we’re experimenting with [is] client pitches and tender material,” she says. “Can you point [ChatGPT] to a set of documents and ask it to produce a [first draft of a] pitch for an offshore wind project?”

Soon after Microsoft announced at the start of this year that it would invest $US10 billion ($14 billion) into OpenAI, KPMG contacted Microsoft to see if it could develop a customised version of ChatGPT for its employees.

Called KymChat, the tool allows KPMG staff to find the most appropriate colleague to contact for a specific task or enquiry by asking the chatbot to identify in-house experts in any given field.

The chatbot clearly piqued staff’s interest. About 20 per cent of the firm’s workforce used the tool on the day it was released, says KPMG Australia chief digital officer John Munnelly.

The chatbot, which keeps any data entered into it in local KPMG servers, is already helping employees do their jobs faster by making it easier to access information about people across the business.

But Munnelly says the firm will add more capabilities to the chatbot over time by feeding it more KPMG data. At present, the firm’s database of staff resumes and responsibilities is the only internal dataset to which KymChat has access.

KPMG Australia chief digital officer John Munnelly says KymChat has already helped staff do their jobs faster.

“Policy interpretation or policy guidance and advice is something that people are asking it for, and I don’t have that turned on yet, so I know that I’ve got to work hard in the background to get that activated pretty quickly,” Munnelly says.

“Our mergers and acquisitions business has a valuations database,” he adds.

“So how do you unlock that and make sure that that’s available to lots of parts of the business? KymChat could be an interface into that amazing knowledge that we have, [which] at the moment is spread across different islands of data across the business.”

Rival firm PwC has a machine learning tool that can automate a line-by-line review of a client’s entertainment expenditure, as well as a smart audit program that uses Microsoft Azure to digitise key aspects of auditing. (KPMG and other firms have similar tools.)

PwC says its audit program has been used by more than 12,000 auditors across 12 countries to save 300,000 hours of time.

Bernie Devine, senior regional director of the Asia-Pacific for property management software firm Yardi, says its clients are already using chatbots to respond to basic queries from prospective tenants and gently nudge them towards signing a deal.

Yardi’s Bernie Devine believes AI will pick up repetitive tasks and free up professionals to focus on higher-value work. Dan Peled

But he believes AI has the potential to assume responsibility for many more “mundane” tasks over the coming years.

This could include automating parts of the payments and invoicing process by pre-filling forms for vendors and speeding up approvals and payments.

“The other thing I’d add is on the management, reporting and analytics side,” he says.

“If you’ve got enough data, [it would be] the ability to ask, ‘What rent would give the maximum return on investment?’ [In other words], ‘should I go for a lower rent that will fill the apartment or the space sooner, or should I go for a higher rent that will take longer to fill the space?’”

Scott Wilson, chief executive of property software firm Forbury, says generative AI will make it easier for professionals to put together drafts of lease and purchase agreements as well as information brochures for properties.

He says most of the information in these brochures is publicly available. A tool such as ChatGPT could help pull together disparate sources of information into one place and help with a first draft.

“Future versions of ChatGPT are going to excel at being able to pull all this together,” Wilson tells BOSS.

Like property firms and many other companies, banks are already using chatbots to respond to basic customer enquiries.

Artificial intelligence has also made it easier for banks to detect fraud and provide personalised services to customers that help them manage their finances.

As for what comes next, Australian lenders are working with Microsoft to deploy technology that would prompt call-centre workers on what to say in a real-time conversation and advise them on what to include in a letter to a customer after the conversation ends.

Westpac will rely on its relationship with Amazon Web Services to make similar improvements. It has revealed it will use generative AI to help staff write better letters to customers and help software engineers develop code.

National Australia Bank is also exploring the possibility of using generative AI to write code, says NAB chief data and analytics officer Christian Nelissen.

Asked how ChatGPT will affect the work done by Commonwealth Bank, a spokesman says AI is critical to what the bank wants to do and will help people in complex roles such as software engineering deliver “even more personal, better experiences for our customers”.

“For example, AI has played an important role in fraud reduction; predicting bills and forecasting cash flows, so customers can stay ahead; connecting customers to unclaimed benefits and grants through our benefits finder tool; and personalising digital offers to help customers save money while they shop,” the spokesman says.

“In many of these instances, we are able to solve complex problems because we have teams working with AI, in ways that are both sophisticated and effective.”

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