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Grant Thornton Invests in Innovative Technology to Improve Ledger Analysis | December 2021

Grant Thornton, one of the world’s largest accounting networks, was awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for innovative technology that enhances general ledger analysis. The proprietary system, Whole Ledger analytics, has been years in the making.

What is a Ledger?

A ledger is a book or computer program with separate files for each account. When information is transferred from a journal to a ledger, the process is called posting. The trial balance (a summary of the balances of all the accounts in the general ledger) will show if the accounting equation is in balance. If it is not, the ledger must be reviewed for errors. Once the trial balance is correct, the accountant can begin to prepare the financial statements.

Whole Ledger Analytics Enhances General Ledger Analysis

Grant Thornton’s Whole Ledger Analytics system was created to assess risks related to each transaction, identify human errors, and report on trends. The system improves audit quality and efficiency while offering insights to Grant Thornton clients.

A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives the patent holder exclusive legal rights to an invention for a certain amount of time. Grant Thornton’s patent recognizes the analytic techniques used by Whole Ledger Analytics for flagging entries in a company’s general ledger. Whole Ledger Analytics computes transaction risk scores, analyzes trends, and compares accounts. It looks at dollar amounts as well as the descriptions of each transaction, relationships among transactions, and transaction history.

The transactional scoring technique considers 38 scoring indicators and establishes a composite risk score. The account comparison process involves visualizing patterns and ranking patterns according to risk. The technology also uses a benchmarking technique that considers 200 benchmarks around financial processes, considering fine details such as value, volume, and timing of individual entries.

More Patents for Grant Thornton

Earlier this year, Grant Thornton was also awarded a patent by the USPTO for technology used in its controls-test automation app, cta.x. The app, which helps firms comply with accounting laws and regulations, uses a unique approach for generating reports from structured data. The company has additional patent applications pending related to the app.

These technology patents show that Grant Thornton is committed to utilizing emerging technology and innovation to improve the field of accounting. The company recently reached record revenues of $1.97 billion.

In the Classroom

This article can be used to discuss the accounting cycle (Chapter 14: Accounting and Financial Statements).

Discussion Questions

  1. What is a ledger?
  2. Describe how Grant Thornton’s Whole Ledger Analytics improves ledger analysis.
  3. How does Grant Thornton benefit from receiving a patent for this technology?

This article was developed with the support of Kelsey Reddick for and under the direction of O.C. Ferrell, Linda Ferrell, and Geoff Hirt.


Grant Thornton, "Grant Thornton Awarded Patent for Innovative Technology in cta.x — An App for Rapid, Automated Controls Testing," June 10, 2021,

"Grant Thornton Awarded Patent for Innovative Technology," CPA Practice Advisor, October 19, 2021,

Michael Cohn, "Grant Thornton Sees Revenue Rise to $1.97B," Accounting Today, October 1, 2021,

About the Author

Geoffrey A. Hirt of DePaul University previously taught at Texas Christian University and Illinois State University, where he was chairman of the Department of Finance and Law. At DePaul, he was chairman of the Finance Department from 1987 to 1997 and held the title of Mesirow Financial Fellow. He developed the MBA program in Hong Kong and served as director of international initiatives for the College of Business, supervising overseas programs in Hong Kong, Prague, and Bahrain, and was awarded the Spirit of St. Vincent DePaul award for his contributions to the university. Dr. Hirt directed the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) study program for the Investment Analysts Society of Chicago from 1987 to 2003. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Urbino in Italy, where he still maintains a relationship with the economics department. He received his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, his MBA at Miami University of Ohio, and his BA from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Profile Photo of Geoffrey A. Hirt