Three-year-old startup bets AI can help fix accountant shortage

Fieldguide raised $30 million in funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners to further its goal of using AI to alleviate an acute shortage of accountants worldwide.

The three-year-old firm closed a Series B round that also included Silicon Valley financier Elad Gil and 8VC. The startup is building an array of AI-enabled tools for auditing, fraud detection, compliance and forensic services, to help certified public accountants tackle endless hours of mundane, repetitive tasks.

Fieldguide is one of a plethora of startups envisioning ways in which artificial intelligence can transform the workplace. Former Ernst & Young consultant Jin Chang, who founded the startup in 2020, estimates about 40% of jobs remain unfilled in the audit and advisory industry. AI can help free up accountants for higher-value work, he said.

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“That’s a huge problem. CPAs are foundational to commerce and to capital markets, they don’t just take care of taxes,” the 33-year-old entrepreneur said.

The top accounting firms, the so-called Big Four, have collectively pledged billions of dollars for artificial intelligence. But the profession is facing a crisis due to a shortage of accountants, according to the CPA Journal. It cited issues from enrollment declines to a 33% drop in candidates sitting for the CPA exam in 2021 compared with five years earlier.

Fieldguide says it counts more than 40 of the top 100 CPA and consulting firms among its clients, including Wipfli, Mazars and Aprio. The global market for auditing services is expected to grow to $303 billion by 2030, from $219 billion in 2022.

“Endless hours and the tedium of work is accelerating burnout among CPAs and they’re quitting, but the rate of new CPAs coming into the profession is declining,” said Chang, who has customers with hundreds of unfilled job openings. “It’s a downward spiral.”

© 2024 Bloomberg

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