Read what the members of our network have to say about the challenges and opportunities of the future in Accountancy and Cyber Risk Management.

 

 

AI for Services is a UK wide network bringing together AI & Data high growth entrepreneurs with leading professionals and academics working in the high professional services sectors.

 

This month we interviewed three of our member organisations that were successful in securing an Innovate UK grant through the Industrial Strategy Next Generation Services Challenge Programme: capitalise.com, recap and Orpheus Cyber. We asked them about their projects, motivations and what the future of the sector holds.

Capitalise – Using cloud data to monitor client portfolios and deliver next

Capitalise.com is a small business financial marketplace. 3,000 advisers including accountants and lawyers use the platform to source funding and other financial products for their clients. In 2019 the team built Monitor with support of an Innovate UK grant. Monitor analyses adviser client portfolios allowing them to predict which clients need their attention.

 

Their project focused on leveraging small business cloud data enriched by metrics built from their own proprietary data sets to create new insight and advisory for our advisers. The uncertainty around which metrics and insight made this an experimental project which the Innovate UK grant was an important catalyst for the vision to be realised.

 

We interviewed Ollie Maitland, Co-founder and CPO of capitalise.

 

Why was your project developed? What was the inspiration and aim?

Our new product ranks clients scored by machine learning and presents an instant, automatic health report. This saves advisers time and allows them to serve more clients with advisory who previously may have been too small for an hourly fee model. At a time when fee pressures are present across traditional services due to automation, our product is expanding their advisory services into new segments. Our product lowers the cost of pre-advisory analysis meaning a wider group of small businesses can receive advice so benefiting both small businesses in the UK and their advisers.

 

What have been the challenges so far? How did you overcome them?

Simply running ratios and calculations against a small business is not enough to gain insight into a business. Layering analysis and, crucially, benchmarking is essential to yield an informative and helpful piece of advisory. The key challenges of the project were in deep data analytics, being able to run many different variations of our models and designing an interface to make the outputs easy to understand and access for our advisers.

 

What does the future look like?

Now, more than ever, small businesses need capital to realise their future visions of their businesses. COVID-19 has reduced the funds available to small businesses as they burn through their working capital. As the leading adviser-led marketplace in the UK, with support of the Innovate UK, we have equipped advisers with technology to help their clients access government CBILS and Bounce Back Loans. This is all the time while advisers are working remotely so making the need for technology to be cloud based for teams working from home.

Recap – Cryptocurrency Accounting

Cryptoassets are subject to capital gains tax, which is incredibly difficult and time consuming to calculate because there are thousands of different cryptoassets, dozens of third-party services, and most users have hundreds or thousands of transactions.

Recap developed a market leading client-side encryption solution for this data which means that an individuals’ transactional and accounting data is only ever accessible on the user’s device and no data ever flows through Recap’s servers. Recap only ever stores a user’s data after it has been encrypted with that user’s private passphrase, which Recap never sees.

 

We interviewed Daniel Howitt , Co-founder at Recap.io.

 

Why was your project developed? What was the inspiration and aim?

The project idea came from the founders’ own frustrations and days spent trying to accurately account and calculate taxes for their own cryptoasset activity. After talking to others in the industry, we realised it was a common problem. There were some solutions, but they all had weaknesses, and none were UK-based or handled UK tax rules. Self-custodianship and privacy are two pillars and benefits of cryptoassets, and we wanted to bring these to our product, so we devised our unique client-side encrypted data security and privacy technology.

 

What have been the challenges so far? How did you overcome them?

The most significant challenge was devising the approaches and developing the technology that enables Recap to be a browser-based application, but without us storing user data or being a man-in-the-middle when users are connecting to their third-party services. We ultimately overcame these challenges throughout the project by developing a client-side encrypted, synchronised, database technology and a browser extension to permit direct connections from a user’s device to their third-party services.

 

What does the future look like?

Much of the early hype for cryptoassets has now passed. More and more established industries and companies are exploring blockchain and cryptoassets and identifying and realising the benefits that this new innovation brings, from data validation to identity.

Orpheus – AI & Machine Learning for predictive cyber risk management

Orpheus Cyber collects, indexes, stores and analyses huge volumes of cyber risk data from a wide range of sources, both technical and non-technical. Orpheus’ advanced analytical techniques, including Machine Learning, combined with highly-skilled analysts, provide predictive and actionable intelligence to their clients.

 

We interviewed Oliver Church, CEO of Orpheus Cyber.

 

Why was your project developed? What was the inspiration and aim?

Orpheus was delighted to receive an award from Innovate UK to support our advanced research in the field. Specifically, we focussed on using AI and Machine Learning capabilities to predict which cyber threats will become reality in the future – and in particular which vulnerabilities will be exploited by threats actors in the coming weeks and months. Doing so enables defensive measures to be put in place such as threat-led patch-management that will defeat the threat before it happens to you.

 

What have been the challenges so far? How did you overcome them?

The challenge of getting ahead of your cyber threats and conducting proactive – and ideally predictive – cyber risk management is an enduring problem for all organisations.

What does the future look like in your sector?

Include COVID 19 impact if relevant. Sadly, we are now seeing cyber risks increase as threat actors attempt to exploit the remote working required by COVID-19. Social distancing means that companies are moving to online business models, becoming even more reliant on their information technology and simultaneously increasing their attack surfaces. It is now even more important to adopt a predictive approach to cyber risk management.

Interested to hear more?

Become an AI for Services member to stay up to date with the innovation happening in your sector by registering here.

 

Why not join our Lunchtime Webinar series in partnership with the University of Sheffield #NextGenPSF project discussing the future of professional services.

Find out more and register your place here.

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