Ottawa startup Big4Transparency acquires AI-based predictive technology to shed more light on accounting salaries

Big4Transparency CPA Accounting
Big4Transparency founder Dominic Piscopo is a CPA and senior financial analyst at Ottawa tech firm Rewind.

A local tech startup dedicated to pay transparency for chartered professional accountants is marrying its data with artificial intelligence with the acquisition of a student-made transparency projector algorithm.

Accountant Dominic Piscopo is the founder of Big4Transparency, an Ottawa-based website and online platform that allows CPAs to submit data about their salaries anonymously and include information about certifications, experience, education and location, as well as personal details like gender and ethnicity. The goal is to bring greater transparency to salaries for accountants of all backgrounds and skill sets.

Now, with the acquisition of an online AI-run algorithm built by an Alberta student, Piscopo said he will be able to tap into his company’s more than 15,000 data submissions and generate accurate salary predictions for CPAs.

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“This website came across my radar and they had a great front end with a salary projector and a  unique algorithm and I thought connecting that algorithm to my data would be really cool,” Piscopo told OBJ this week. “I’m pulling features from the other entity and incorporating them into mine, so the domain is being transferred into mine.”

The acquisition has been finalized and will be closing in the next week, Piscopo said. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“It’s such a good fit to acquire a new feature set that would be able to better serve my users.”

Piscopo, a CPA and senior financial analyst at Ottawa tech firm Rewind, studied accounting in university before joining one of the “Big Four” accounting firms — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC — to embark on his career as a CPA. While at the large firm, Piscopo said he gained experience but also saw firsthand some of the flaws of the industry.

“Early in your career in public accounting, hours tend to be long while salaries are fairly low, which may be a contributing factor to some of the shortages of CPAs we are seeing today,” he told OBJ in June 2023. “To me, it was important to define what the rewards might look like later down the line and go in knowing what to expect — that’s where salary transparency is important.”

After researching salaries at other accounting firms, Piscopo learned he was not being paid competitively.

“This was an obvious problem to me because, as soon as you log in to Reddit or Fishbowl, people are always curious about what other people are making and the existing data is not very extensive,” he told OBJ last year. “What we want to know is if someone with my experience in my city is making this exact salary as compared to me.”

Piscopo launched and the platform went “viral” online in August 2021, forcing him to standardize the data input to manage all the traffic coming to the website. The website now has slightly fewer than 250,000 cumulative users with 10,000-25,000 monthly users, Piscopo said.

Piscopo has since launched The Big 4 Transparency Podcast, which he said has been “gaining momentum” and attracting new users to the platform. 

“The podcast has created new connections for the business, we’ve become a compensation data provider to lots of top firms, including one of the Big Four firms in Canada,” he explained. “The podcast has been really huge for us in terms of progression.”

With the acquisition of the salary projecting technology, Piscopo said he can remain a competitive compensation data provider, both for individuals and for firms, and it puts him “ahead of the curve” when it comes to utilizing AI.

“The main way we’re looking to scale is by becoming a provider more broadly in the industry,” said Piscopo. “This technology is at the cutting edge, it’s AI-adjacent, AI-predictive … And as AI becomes more and more common, this keeps me ahead of the predictive algorithm curve.”

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