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3E Accounting Revolutionizes Professional Services Industry with Robotics Accounting
Embracing the rapid integration of technology in the new digital age, 3E Accounting is the first SME accounting firm in the region to adopt robotics technology and disrupt the Accounting and Professional Services Industry as the pioneer robotics accounting firm.
Marking his first foray into the digital space in 2012, Founder Lawrence Chai set up IT Solution, a technology company under 3E Accounting Group, which provides a comprehensive range of IT solutions and digital marketing to complement the professional services offered to its clients. The introduction of innovative Double Robotics technology in 2016 took the firm one step closer towards reinventing itself as the first robotics accounting firm and robotics accountant, planting the seeds for the current development of automated robotics for financial reporting, tax and bookkeeping services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has validated 3E Accounting’s digital transformation efforts in unprecedented times, where there was previously little difference between firms who went by the conventional and digital routes. The investment in technology that has enabled 3E Accounting to achieve business-wide benefits such as flexible work arrangements has proven its value to the company. It allows 3E Accounting to transcend geographical barriers in its overseas expansion and is the foundation and cornerstone for business continuity planning and uninterrupted business operations during the pandemic. Furthermore, the new intelligent automation technology, which has enhanced innovation and employee productivity, allowed 3E Accounting to remain ahead of major competitors in the Accounting and Professional Services Industry.
3E Accounting Digital Master Plan
3E Accounting Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Lawrence Chai formed the firm’s Digital Research and Development (DR&D) team to spearhead development in new technological growth areas like Robotics Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2019. A Digital Master Plan was formulated to map out future industry trends, identify key challenges and chart a roadmap for action.
Going Fully Digital
Within 15 months of its formation, the Digital R&D team has completed the Digital Transformation of the business. 3E Accounting is fully equipped to digitally process company incorporation, accounting, tax, human resource and secretarial services for its clients. A company incorporation process that would typically require two days to complete in terms of due diligence and paperwork has been significantly shortened to within 1 hour as a result of technology adoption.
With the support of automated robots, 3E Accounting’s employees are able to redirect their time and effort from basic routine work to better focus on creating higher value for clients. Furthermore, with digitization, 3E Accounting can go 100% digital and paperless through the deployment of cloud and automation solutions, resulting in a 50% increase in firm productivity. The implementation of digital tools and robotics technology has generated significant time and manpower savings, allowing 3E Accounting to support a much bigger client base and providing 4x advantage over industry peers.
Digital Transformation within 3E Accounting has enabled cross-border liaison, whereby digital tools such as video conferencing, Virtual Private Network (VPN) and IP Phones are used as interactive channels to provide timely support to clients despite the geographical barriers.
3E Accounting is actively committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, by offering financial support and contributing its expertise in digitalization and technology to charities. These efforts did not falter even in times of challenging economic times brought about by the pandemic. To promote the culture of helping others, 3E Accounting encourages its stakeholders, employees, clients and SME peers to contribute in any way possible to improve the lives of the disadvantaged in society.
Benefits of Digitalization for 3E Accounting
Investment in technology and digitalizing its operations has allowed 3E Accounting to enjoy a myriad of benefits such as flexible working arrangements, increased productivity levels, attracted talents and generated higher cost savings. Digitalization, which has enabled the firm to actively champion work-life harmony with the flexi-work and flexi-time schemes, coupled with 3E Accounting’s established achievements, are key factors for attracting top talents to 3E Accounting.
Technology support has given the firm’s employees the flexibility to telecommute, and it has been proven to be crucial when transiting 3E Accounting into the mandatory work-from-home (WFH) arrangements during the national lockdowns due to COVID-19.
Investment in IT infrastructure and robotics has generated a strong competitive advantage. The adoption of technology which increased the employees’ productivity and value creation for clients, has led to a remarkable record of 99% customer satisfaction over the past two years. Because 3E Accounting clients have the highest assurance that they are served by experienced professionals with extensive experience in financial, tax, corporate and regulatory regimes, the firm has been supporting more than 4,000 SMEs with its business offerings since its inception.
Building the Future with Robotics
By adapting to the emerging robotics technology, 3E Accounting’s ambition is to build a future accounting and professional services firm where intelligent robots are deployed to perform tasks and collaborate with human co-workers. This innovative technology presents a magnitude of advantages for the firm in terms of improved productivity, higher operational efficiencies and enhanced value creation for 3E Accounting’s internal and external stakeholders.
In 2020, 3E Accounting completed business and digital transformation to a robotics accounting firm, with the completion of a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Robot and a Financial Report Robot, ultimately saving 90% of time spent on tasks, allowing 3E Accounting to become a fast-growing future-ready robotics accountant.
Launch of 3E Accounting’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Robot
The customized RPA Robot is able to perform AI tasks including collecting and analysing data, feeding data to other application and controlling desktop applications like Excel and Chrome Browser to view the client’s unique set of information for the purpose of identifying income tax return issued and to check on the client’s outstanding tax returns on relevant website automatically. Using robotically retrieved excel data of the Tax Reference Number, the automation process has been programmed to select the correct Year of Assessment and solve the Captcha without any manual human inputs. This process helps to retrieve and tabulate clients’ information in an excel file automatically. The RPA Robot will increase 3E Accounting’s productivity and efficiency levels as it dramatically reduces the time required to perform these repetitive tasks.
Launch of 3E Accounting’s Financial Report Robot
3E Accounting has engineered a Financial Report Robot requiring minimal human inputs, to produce financial reports that are in accordance with the local financial reporting standards within 30 seconds. This powerful technology solution will improve the firm’s productivity by 90% in the long run due to the significant reduction of an average time spent of 5 to 8 hours to just 30 seconds on each financial statement. Furthermore, the Financial Report Robot addresses common challenges in the accountancy sector, including voluminous and tedious data entry work, and notably reducing mistakes of human error. This robotics technology was developed by the Digital R&D team through AI technology, programmed machine learning and integrating of natural language processing in a financial statement generator software to pick up data in different formats. With human inputs comprising only a trial balance and Profit and Loss Statement, the software will automatically analyse, learn and verify the data before translating it into financial reporting statements. With this quantum leap, the role of accountants shifts towards a heavier focus on value creation activities such as financial advisory work, analysing the financial data to discover ways for clients to improve their businesses financially today, and plan strategically for the future.
Having achieved full digital transformation in its operations, 3E Accounting recognised the vulnerability of Internet integration and developed a Fraud Detection Robot to help safeguard its digital assets, data and crucial information from cyber-attackers. With the rise in cases of cyber-attack on businesses becoming a growing cause for concern especially in the accelerated digitalization taking place globally, 3E Accounting’s Fraud Detection Robot is a critical invention to safeguard the firm and its clients from the malicious intents of criminals and cyberattackers.
Launch of 3E Accounting’s Fraud Detection Robot
3E Accounting deploys Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in its operating system to identify emails of spam nature, such as phishing emails or those that contain malware or ransomware. Such emails are filtered and redirected to 3E Accounting’s centralised spam system without reaching the employee’s personal email inbox. To further safeguard individual employees from any suspicious emails, 3E Accounting developed the Fraud Detection Robot that utilises AI technology to conduct precise and smart filtering to sieve out up to 99% of emails of phishing, fraud and spam natures on a daily basis. The Digital R&D team conducts dummy tests daily by feeding the robot with spam emails created in-house to ensure that its effectiveness is not compromised. Over the past 12 months, the robot has achieved an impressive track record with not even a single spam email reaching the end-user (employee). This safeguards company software from infiltration and protects the data and information of the company from being exfiltrated by criminals with malicious intentions.
Not only does the Fraud Detection Robot help 3E Accounting manage fraud risks internally, it plays an important function to help clients. The in-system integration with 3E Accounting’s Financial Report Robot provides 3E Accounting with the ability to flag out accounts with high fraud risk, such as bank accounts with large amounts of cash. The deployment of robotic technology ensures that 3E Accounting will pay special attention to the general ledgers and supporting documents of the flagged accounts to scan for unusual transactions. Should there be entries that raise suspicion, key account managers will engage clients and investigate potential fraudulent origins.
Tax and Bookkeeping Robots in Development
3E Accounting is currently developing two more robots to increase the firm’s efficiency and bring about greater value to its clients. A Tax Robot will officially launch in 2021 and a Bookkeeping Robot is targeted to materialize by 2022. As a leading robotics accounting firm and robotics accountant in Industry 4.0, 3E Accounting will continue to build robots and aims to complete AI implementations in all business processes by 2025 and implement humanoid robots by 2028. These AI technologies can help boost up to a 99% increase in the firm’s productivity. 3E Accounting has already started researching and sourcing for potential humanoid robotics collaboration projects with institutions of higher learning (IHLs) to work towards the AI transformation plan.
Applying Tax Robot Technology
The Tax Robot will be programmed with machine learning technology to perform AI tasks including automation of the preparation of Tax Computation and Income Tax Return form in accordance with the rules of taxation using uploaded inputs of Financial Statements and Fixed Assets Registers. This Tax Robot technology will generate significant improvements in time savings on each Tax Computation and Form preparation, ultimately increasing the firm’s productivity and efficiency gains by 90% in the long run.
Building the Bookkeeping Robot
The Bookkeeping Robot will apply automation to utilize Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and Machine Learning technology to convert scanned purchase and sale invoice documents that comes in various formats to editable and searchable financial accounts and data, and automatically transcribe them into financial journal entries that are in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) presentation and disclosure – all without the need for human intervention. Leveraging on powerful automation and artificial intelligence technology, the bookkeeping robot empowers accountants to prepare financial journal entries more efficiently. 3E Accounting is able to improve operational efficiencies while reducing the likelihood of human errors from hardcopy documentation and voluminous and repetitive data entry work.
Engineering Offsite Data Centre for Business Resilience
As 3E Accounting marks 10 years of serving clients beyond excellence, the firm is in the process of building its very own offsite data centre for business resilience. The main objective of the data centre is to centralize shared IT operations and equipment for the purposes of storing, processing, and disseminating data and applications, with the aim of generating greater productivity gains through technology and enable the provision of ever-more timely technology support to its clients.
3E Accounting Secure Data Centre will house a digital twin of its most critical and sensitive digital assets to ensure business continuity of its daily operations and safeguard against future business disruption. This is especially critical as the firm works with advanced technologies like AI and machine learning, which requires large memory and processing power to operate. Virtual 3E is housed in a physical data centre facility equipped with high-end servers for business resilience, business-critical applications and enterprise data information with redundancy and backups.
Massive Investment in Technology
With a strong belief that technology will transform the business landscape, 3E Accounting has invested over $2.0 million in researching and developing automation robotics and IT infrastructure. Despite not tapping on venture capitalist funding, 3E Accounting has made a giant leap into technology development.
As the firm marks the start of its double eleven growth trajectory in 2021 and beyond, the firm is exploring its capitalization options and does not preclude considering Pre-Series A funding via private equity markets to exponentially expand its client base and product offerings in advanced robotics, new markets business advisory, Virtual Chief Financial Officer (VCFO), as well as technology research and development.
“COVID-19 is a game-changer for businesses. It has validated 3E Accounting’s digital transformation efforts, and gives greater impetus to our ambition to become a robotics accounting firm and a robotics accountant. To strengthen business resilience, I am investing in my very own offsite data centre. The 3E Accounting Secure Data Centre will house a digital twin of our most critical and sensitive digital assets to ensure business continuity of our daily operations and safeguard against future business disruption.”
Founder & Chief Technology Officer
3E Accounting Group