The audit profession is at a watershed moment. The number of business failures, most notably Carillion, has led many to ask: where were the auditors?
The public’s confidence in auditors has deteriorated and the industry is facing intense scrutiny from all angles. Calls have risen once more to break up the Big Four. It’s clear we are at a cross-roads and, as a leading auditor with public interest responsibility, we have a significant role to play in restoring the public’s trust. Our next steps will be critical and we must be relentless in our approach to enhancing audit quality.
The role of technology
Auditing is an age old profession and some have argued 20th century techniques are still being used to audit today’s companies. With many businesses built around innovative technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robotics, we have evolved our work to ensure our audits can match the complexity of organisations today. We have already made big strides by introducing new audit models based on analytics as well as cognitive technologies and we are continuing to invest in this area.
We have also conducted detailed analysis to ensure we have appropriately identified and addressed critical risks around complex areas like pension balance auditing. Our people have applied agile project management techniques to our audits so we can be quicker to challenge, respond to and resolve issues in real-time. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as we look to broaden the skillset and mix of our audit team’s capabilities beyond traditional roles ranging from data scientists to cognitive technology specialists.
No standing still
Looking ahead, the audit profession will be as critical in the years to come as it is today. We have a choice to either stand still or embrace the development of new skills and technologies to make our audits fit for the future. There is no question what our response should be. Our audit work is a foundation of trust and confidence in the capital markets and we must always do more to provide assurance to external stakeholders and the wider public.