Consultancy Firms Are Using AI to Fast-Track Partnerships

Large consulting and law firms are trying to get junior staffers on the fast track to partner using tools like ChatGPT.

Photo by Mojahid Mottakin via Unsplash

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

The reason your boss is giving ChatGPT all your work is so you can get promoted faster. Really. That’s what they’re saying.

According to a Bloomberg report published Monday, large consulting and law firms are trying to get junior staffers on the fast track to partner using tools like ChatGPT to tackle the avalanche of grunt work that the newbies typically get buried under during their first years on the job. This comes the same day as a report from Business Insider that argues the largest beneficiaries of ChatGPT’s prowess are low-performing employees.

The Great Smoothening-Out

ChatGPT, while a million miles away from the human-like intelligence that its makers say they’re steering toward, is nevertheless already having profound effects on the working world. KPMG told Bloomberg that it’s handing work to new graduates that it previously would have given three years into their careers, and PwC said it’s giving graduates more time to pitch clients instead of the hours it used to make them spend prepping documents for meetings. And these moves aren’t originating from young staffers but top brass, as EY’s chief innovation officer told Bloomberg: “We are trying to take years off of the time it takes for somebody from when they’re hired to when they become a partner.”

This is an attractive shift for younglings getting their first taste of corporate life, but Business Insider’s Aki Ito argues that AI doesn’t necessarily help everyone the same amount:

  • Ito analyzed studies in six different areas, including management consultancy and law schools, that largely found AI tools disproportionately benefited low-performers. In the case of the law school students, broad use of ChatGPT 4 actually hurt the grades of students at the top of their class.
  • Even if AI does play havoc with our ideas of meritocracy, in all cases overall productivity was raised. The question is whether that translates to higher wages for youngsters suddenly on track for top jobs, or it devalues the whole hierarchy.

One study cited by Ito found that top freelancers on freelancing platform Upwork were squeezed by the arrival of ChatGPT and similar bots. They received 7% fewer job offers and their earnings sank by 14%.

Creative Accounting: It’s not just individual employees whose work might receive a boost from AI. EY’s assurance managing partner for the UK and Ireland Kath Barrow told The Financial Times that the company has been putting an AI tool to work scouting for accounting irregularities. She told the FT that out of the first 10 companies whose books the AI had a chance to rifle through, it raised question marks over two. Those same clients later confirmed they’d found instances of fraud.