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3E Accounting Revolutionizes Professional Services Industry with Robotics Accounting
3E Accounting is the first SME accounting firm in Singapore and the region to adopt robotics technology and revolutionize the Accounting and Professional Services Industries as the pioneer robotics accounting firm and robotics accountant.
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 robotic accounting firm and robotic accountant, planting the seeds for the current development of automated robotics for financial reporting, tax and bookkeeping services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for businesses. It has helped to validate 3E Accounting’s digital transformation efforts in an unprecedented environment, where there was previously little difference between firms who went by the conventional or digital routes. The investment in technology that has enabled 3E Accounting to achieve business-wide benefits such as flexible work arrangements and transcend geographical barriers in its overseas expansion has, in 2020, demonstrated its significant value in serving as the foundation and cornerstone for business continuity planning and uninterrupted business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the new intelligent automation technology, which has increased employee productivity, enhanced innovation and surpassed competition, allowed 3E Accounting to remain ahead of major competitors in the Accounting and Professional Services Industries.
3E Accounting Digital Master Plan
In response to the launch of the Accountancy Industry Digital Plan on 22 August 2019, which was the sectoral enabler for the Professional Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM), 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 business automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The DR&D team’s prerogative was to formulate the Digital Master Plan to map out the digital transformation of the business in response to the Government’s call to champion Smart Nation Initiatives.
The Digital Master Plan identified key challenges, primarily how robots and automation will replace accounting jobs, mapped out future industry trends and charted a roadmap for action. It sets out 3E Accounting’s ambition to become the first global SME robotics accounting firm and robotics accountant.
Going Fully Digital
Within 15 months of its formation, the (DR&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 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 equipped 3E Accounting with significant time and manpower savings, allowing the firm to support a much bigger client base and providing 4x advantage over its industry peers.
Digital transformation within 3E Accounting has also enabled the successful Virtual Opening of its new Hong Kong office, 3E Accounting Limited in July 2020. Through the use of digital tools like video conferencing, Virtual Private Network (VPN) and IP Phones, the global headquarters team in Singapore provides timely remote support to the Hong Kong office’s overseas operations.
Being a firm that is committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), 3E Accounting made a pledge to donate $50 for every incorporation package delivered up to $25,000 to the President’s Challenge 2020. This was despite the challenging economic conditions brought about by the pandemic this year. As a digital accounting firm, 3E Accounting concurrently launched a fundraising campaign on Giving.sg, to encourage stakeholders, employees, clients and SME peers to support this initiative. 3E Accounting will continue supporting charities such as the President’s Challenge by contributing our expertise in digitalization and technology to help more beneficiaries.
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 embarked on its business transformation to a robotic accounting firm and a robotic accountant and has completed the development of a Financial Report Robot and a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Robot. These technology initiatives save 90% of time spent on tasks, allowing 3E Accounting to become a robotics accounting firm that is fast-growing and a robotics accountant who is future-ready in the hyper-competitive market.
Launch of 3E Accounting’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Robot
The customized RPA Robot is able to perform AI tasks including collecting and analyzing data, feeding data to other application and controlling of desktop applications like Excel and Chrome Browser to view Document Identification Number (DIN) for Form C-S/ C and to check for any outstanding tax returns of its clients on the IRAS 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 the clients’ DIN and tabulate them in an excel file automatically. The RPA Robot will increase 3E Accounting’s productivity and efficiency levels as it remarkably 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 Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS) presentation and disclosure within 30 seconds. This powerful technology solution will improve the firm’s productivity by 90% in the long run due to the significant increase in time savings on each financial statements by reducing an average time spent of 5 to 8 hours to just 30 seconds. 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 analyze, learn and verify the data before translating it into financial reporting statements. With this quantum leap, the role of Accountants will be transformed to focus on more value creation activities such as financial advisory work, analyzing 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, the robotic accounting firm and robotic accountant in the making, is currently developing two more robots to increase the firm’s efficiencies and bring about greater value to its clients. A Tax Robot will officially launch in 2021 while a Bookkeeping Robot is targeted to materialize by 2022. To maintain the market position as a leading robotic accounting firm and robotic accountant in Industry 4.0, 3E Accounting will continue to build robots and aims to complete artificial intelligence (AI) implementations in all business processes by 2025 and implement humanoid robots by 2028. These AI technology 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 Form C-S/ C in accordance with Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) 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 with Singapore Institute of Technology
The Bookkeeping Robot will be launched in partnership with local autonomous institution of higher learning (IHL) Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). The automation application is conceptualized to utilize the 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. 3E Accounting Secure Data Centre is located at Primz Bizhub B1 Light Industrial Zone in Woodlands. 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