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Generative AI could contribute $13 billion annually to Australia’s professional and financial services sector by 2030

A new report says Australia’s professional and financial services sector could unlock billions of dollars in value by 2030 if it accelerates the responsible adoption of generative artificial intelligence (GAI).

The report, Australia’s Generative AI Opportunity, is a collaboration between Microsoft and the Tech Council of Australia. It shows that GAI could contribute between $45 billion and $115 billion a year to Australia’s economy by 2030 through two major channels: improving existing industries and enabling the creation of new products and services.

Professional and financial services are identified as one of the four key sectors of the Australian economy that are poised to benefit from GAI. The report demonstrates that the technology could contribute between $5 billion and $13 billion annually to the sector in Australia by 2030.

Unlocking the potential benefits of GAI for professional and financial services

The key driver of value for GAI in the professional and financial services sector will be its ability to automate routine tasks, leading to more time invested in higher-value thinking. It can also bolster Australia’s reputation for high-calibre knowledge workers and service delivery, particularly in the financial and legal industries.

Howard Silby, NAB Executive, Innovation and Partnerships said: “AI technology has been around for a while, but we’re at a real inflection point with the widespread popularity and adoption of Gen AI tools. Whilst we’ve been using AI tools for some time in areas including digital customer service, cyber security and financial crime, the opportunities for Gen AI to move our organisation – and our industry – forward are significant.”

“As a bank, it’s critical that we use AI for the benefit of our customers, and protecting their data has to be our first priority. That’s a key foundation for all the development around Gen AI that we put in place.”

According to the report, GAI could automate 36 per cent and assist in 26 per cent of an accountant’s tasks, for example, which would enable them to shift towards a more advisory and strategic role. For solicitors, 10 per cent of their tasks could be automated by GAI, and 32 per can be augmented. This would enable lawyers to use more of their time and expertise on complex legal matters.

GAI also has the potential to improve access to professional services, including legal and financial advice, for more Australians. For example, it could help lawyers take on more cases for underserved cohorts.

“LawVu’s mission is to help accelerate the world’s legal work, which means we are perfectly placed to help in-house legal professionals under more pressure than ever to deliver results quickly and accurately.”

“By partnering with Microsoft, we can securely integrate AI enhancements into the LawVu legal workspace, helping legal teams save time so they can focus on the more important issues at hand. This helps businesses get the most out of their legal team, which ultimately means better business outcomes.” said Sam Kidd, CEO and Co-founder at LawVu.

“The time is now for the professional services industry to transform how it fundamentally operates, and generative AI presents an enormous opportunity,” said Kate Pounder, Chief Executive Officer at the Tech Council of Australia. “This sector has also helped build Australia’s reputation as a strong knowledge economy. It needs to leverage new technologies to maintain and advance our competitive position on the world stage.”

Lee Hickin, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, said: “We’re proud to partner with the Tech Council on this timely report. Generative AI has emerged as a transformative technology in 2023, with its adoption growing rapidly across various sectors in Australia. These include several pilot programs being explored by our customers in professional and financial services.

“Microsoft is committed to fostering closer collaboration between industry and government to ensure the nation can realise the potential economic benefits of generative AI, and do so responsibly. Building trust in this technology is critical to harnessing its innovative capabilities and enabling Australia to become a global leader in this space.”

The other three key sectors identified in the report are healthcare, manufacturing and retail. The report details potential use cases for GAI in each of these sectors and the subsequent economic value that could be generated using this technology.

Leveraging Australia’s comparative advantages and taking strategic actions

The report notes that industry and government are at a critical juncture in GAI adoption, with deeper collaboration needed for Australia to capture the economic benefits of this technology and to become a global leader in GAI.

Leveraging Australia’s comparative advantages in digital technology is key to spurring this collaboration. They include a large and highly skilled tech workforce, strong investment in digital infrastructure and a high level of cloud computing adoption.

The report – which is based on comprehensive economic analysis as well as consultations with industry, government and academia – also identifies the barriers that industry and government face in capitalising on GAI in four key areas: technology capability, enterprise readiness, awareness and skills, and responsible AI.

Finally, the report outlines the strategic actions that both adopters and policymakers need to take for Australia to overcome these challenges and become a global leader in GAI. These include defining the opportunity and vision for GAI, assessing readiness, incentivising adoption and innovation, upskilling the workforce, and developing responsible AI governance frameworks.

To learn more, read the report here.