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Thomson Reuters Future of Professionals Report Predicts AI will Have a Transformational Impact on Professional Work by 2028

Thomson Reuters (NYSE/TSX: TRI), a global content and technology company, released its Future of Professionals Report. The survey of more than 1,200 individuals working internationally shares the predicted impact that generative AI will have on the future of professional work. The survey showed 67% of respondents believe AI will have a transformational or high impact on their profession in the next five years. What’s more, over half of the survey respondents (66%) predict AI will create new professional career paths, while 68% expect roles that do not require traditional legal or tax qualifications to increase over the next five years.

“We are at a unique moment where we have the opportunity to realize the benefits of human intelligence, thinking and collaboration differently, while using the potential of AI to overcome some of professionals biggest pain points.” said Steve Hasker, president and CEO, Thomson Reuters. “Through the application of AI to perform more mundane tasks, professionals have the unique opportunity to address human capital issues such as job satisfaction, well-being, and work-life balance. This will in turn unlock time for professionals to focus on complex work that adds value to their client’s needs.”

Amid the changing nature of professional work, organizations across industries are continuing to adopt AI into their everyday workflows. Most respondents shared optimism around the power of AI, with 45% pinning their biggest AI aspirations on improved productivity, internal efficiency, and client services, specifically as it relates to operations converging with their talent, customers, and environment. 

Additionally, 67% of respondents indicated their biggest personal motivator was “producing high-quality advice.” To continue this work in the era of generative AI, professionals need to reconsider and redefine what it means to be an advisorand evolve business models to prepare and service customers for tomorrow – not just today.

More than a quarter (28%) of professionals say work negatively impacts their mental health and wellbeing. Long working hours and fear of making errors are the top two factors driving these perceptions. AI has the power to relieve some of this burden by reducing the time it takes to get the accurate and contextualized information needed to solve a problem, reducing the risk of errors, and automating mundane tasks.

Understandably, professionals are cautious; specifically, the biggest concerns include a compromise of accuracy (25%), job loss (19%), demise of the profession altogether (17%), data security (15%), and ethics (15%). Building AI that solves customers’ biggest pain points in a transparent and responsible way while providing trusted results will help instil confidence and alleviate fears.

Key industry findings from the report:  

Tax and Accounting Professionals: 

  • Freeing up time to deliver more value: Productivity is the highest priority for tax and accounting firms (59%), while internal efficiency (75%) tops the list in corporate tax and accounting departments.
  • Intelligent advisory: “Producing high-quality advice” tops the list of motivators for most professionals (67%). In tax, growing an advisory practice is a route for firms to differentiate and illuminate the expertise of staff. 
  • Bridging the talent gap in tax: Professionals predict new career paths will become available (66%), including increases in roles that do not require traditional tax qualifications (68%), over the next five years. In tax, more enrolled agent (EA) professionals may be able to do personal tax returns. 

Legal Professionals: 

  • Catalyst for growth:  Improved productivity and efficiency are seen as the biggest positive effects of AI (75% and 67%, respectively) for law firm professionals. Additionally, law firms see AI as an opportunity for increased revenue as more than half (55%) of legal professionals predicted that lower costs for firms, resulting from AI use, will lead to greater firm profitability. Also, 81% of legal respondents expect new services to emerge within the next five years, creating new revenue sources. 
  • New skills and career paths:  58% of respondents anticipate seeing a rise in their professional skills, while more than two-thirds of legal professionals see a more consultative approach to advice. As skills will be highly prized, new career paths are likely to emerge, and 81% see a rise in the use of alternative legal service providers (ALSPs). 
  • Areas of need and concern:  According to respondents, the profession needs to address a lack of technology skills as well as a lack of investment in technology. As for areas of concern, the top issue is accuracy (30%). 

Government Professionals:  

  • AI and Talent: Talent issues tend to be a higher priority for government professionals than for their corporate counterparts, and they tend to feel more optimism that AI can help in some of these areas. Training, recruitment, wellbeing, and engagement were all more common organizational priorities among government professionals.
  • Slower adoption: Overall, government professionals tend to think that AI adoption will be slower than in corporations, due to data security fears and general resistance to change and will therefore have less impact. 

To access the full report, visit https://thomsonreuters.com/en/campaigns/future-of-professionals.html

Methodology 

Research was conducted during the months of May and June 2023 via an online survey. More than 1,200 professionals from the legal, tax and accounting, and risk professions employed by corporations, firms, and government agencies completed the survey. About half of the participants were based in the United States, with most of the remaining half from the UK, Canada, and Latin America. 

Most of the respondents

were in traditional roles, meaning that those in the legal industry were lawyers, those in the tax and accounting industry were accountants and CPAs, and a small minority performed roles in operations and technology. In addition, the majority of respondents represented Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964), followed by Gen X (1965-1980), and Millennial (1981-1996) generations. A handful of respondents were Gen Z (1997-2012) or Silent Generation (born prior to 1946). 

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