Study: Technology Pressures in Audit Profession Will Force Major Changes

With constantly evolving technology driving change in the profession, firm leaders anticipate a future that may fundamentally transform the way audits are conducted. According to Thompson Reuters, the most pressing challenges facing the audit profession can be grouped into four main categories: quality, innovation, talent and relevance.

A recently released whitepaper covers how each of these challenges impact today’s audit and how reimagining solutions to these challenges can mean a new future.

The white paper, “Four Keys to the Future of Audit,” says that firms don’t realize that their audits are living in the past. “Many are under the false pretense that since their audits are paperless, they are modernized and future-ready. However, most of these firms don’t take into account that while the medium may have changed, nothing about the audit process itself has changed along with it – thus, the same systematic inefficiencies are still present. Furthermore, auditors continuously fail to use technology to better understand a client and their business, the industry and as a tool to enhance curiosity.”

Technology can be used to improve quality of the audits, the report says. For example, real-time quality dashboards can help the firm monitor quality. Emerging cloud-based audit technologies offer significant improvements in this area and hold “great promise in helping the profession move into the future,” the report says.

Big data and data analytics also offer promise, as auditors can provide insights that were not possible when only samples of data were examined. “However, auditors now have the ability to rise above limited amounts of data and scope out observations,” the report says. “With the ability to have an expanded real-time internal and external view, auditors can now think holistically and promote innovation within their firms.”

Cloud-based audit platforms can help position the firm for the audits of the future. Cognitive computing systems, which use algorithms to drive machine learning, will eventually become capable of anticipating problems and their solutions. “Other industries are much further along than the audit profession, but there is little doubt that cognitive computing has a prominent place in the future of the audit,” the report says. “It’s only a matter of time.”

All of these development will impact the kind of talent recruited into the profession and the skills training that should be made available.

“The audit technology tools that are in the cloud today, that integrate platform and methodology, are very good starting points to move to the future,” the report concludes. “Add cognitive computing and data analytics once they are more fully evolved, and the result could be an audit game-changer.”