Advancing thinking and debate
The aim of AuditFutures is to construct a holistic view and a systemic approach to rethinking the profession. We are currently working on a number of interlocking levels to encompass the whole system – through action research, thought-leadership, and practical engagement on the ground.
Accountancy Salon is a series of discussion events that provide a space for an advanced debate on the complex and dynamic role of the accounting profession in contemporary society. Each session focuses on a specific theme and features brief talks by an invited panel and an open discussion with a cross-disciplinary audience.
To attract a diverse group of individuals and inspire the next generation of professionals, a profession needs to capture the imagination of young by actively engaging them in debates about their future. The university can be seen as the foundation of our society, and so we have developed initiatives to promote the profession, to challenge students’ thinking and to provide opportunities for engaging academia and practice.
Open Design Studio
This design-led initiative offers multidisciplinary workshops with organisational and technological experts, facilitated by designers. Here, professionals can learn new collaborative tools, new ideas that solve social challenges can be prototyped. The Studio provides online and pop-up physical space where inspiring work-in-progress can be showcased. We believe that design thinking can help the accountancy profession in understanding issues and in creating solutions, in collaboration with communities, businesses and wider society.
Philosophy for Accountancy
This comprehensive initiative embraces a long-term vision for supporting the core of professional education through integrated seminars in accounting courses and training modules. Through developing a sound pedagogical approach and culture of inquiry-based learning, the sessions develop independent critical thinking and higher moral reasoning that help students deal with complex problems. It further challenges and proposes a new model of how knowledge could be constructed in accountancy by embedding the technical knowledge and professional skills within a wider social frame. It boosts the overall rigour of professional accounting education so that it becomes something to aspire to.
We support the accounting firms to develop and retain talent, and so we are looking to design projects for young bright professionals, to support them in building capacity and commitment to the profession. We invite people who are early on in their careers to participate in discussions and to take active leadership in shaping the future of society and their profession. In partnership with businesses, accounting firms and civil society organisations, we design and host workshops for junior professionals to capture their enthusiasm and to inspire them to take a dynamic role in driving their profession forward.
Why Innovate Audit?
From ancient times to the present day, the role of audit in society has been continuously evolving. From inventory checking in ancient times, to ensuring correctness and detecting fraud in the Industrial age, to enhancing the integrity and credibility of financial information – audit has taken on different roles. Today, in a stormy sea of global challenges, which are transcending the boundaries of individual organisations, industries or nations, auditors have become more prominent as trusted intermediaries in building confidence.
The financial crisis has exacerbated the erosion of confidence in business and institutions. It has negatively framed the public debate, in addition to revealing multiple problems undermining the foundations of civil society. The growing number of financial scandals has severely challenged the public trust in business.
The gap has widened between what auditors think their role is and what the public more broadly expects of them. However, most of the existing discussions and public policy debates about the audit profession focus on increased regulation and additional standards. We seem to be taking a limited, left-brain approach to restoring public trust and are simply rushing to add more controls and checks and to tick more boxes. At times when the public is disillusioned with institutions, including the government and legislature how can we expect these very institutions to improve trust? We need to identify the source of the problem and find concrete solutions.
Both our society and the audit profession are at a crossroads. We see this as an opportunity to create a positive, systemic process to rebuild trust. We need to pause, step back and reflect on what the role and value of the audit profession is and what audit can do to realign itself with the public interest. We believe we should invite a wider and more diverse group of participants to the debate.
The audit profession is instrumental in rebuilding trust in business and we believe that the public interest should be at the heart of audit. We want to repurpose audit and restore the view that it has intrinsic value to society. AuditFutures is the opportunity for the profession to be part of the answer to the major challenges society faces. We invite you to take part in a conversation that we believe is worth having.
How do we inspire a profession?
The second half of the 20th century was remarkable for the sheer number of individual entrepreneurs, thinkers and leaders. The first decade of the 21st century marked the birth of new social movements, new organisational dynamics and new ways for people to connect and work together. This new paradigm of social organisation will welcome modern networks of professionals – dynamic, open, responsible and progressive.
AuditFutures aims at repurposing the role of the audit and accounting professions for 21st century society. We want to look beyond marginal and incremental changes in audit, mandated by the business and regulatory landscape. If audit has an aspiration to serve society and remain relevant to the public interest, it has to engage with a greater range of stakeholders and invite critical thinking and constructive debate.
We hope to become the catalyst for change and to inspire the profession to take responsibility in determining it its own fate by leading the discussion on future society. By working across the audit and accounting professions at international level, we are building programmes to help and enable innovative thinkers and ‘tempered radicals’ to develop thinking and ideas on the future of audit.
A fundamental aspect of our work is to invite diverse and divergent perspectives to the debate. No single organisation can tackle the wider systemic issues that we are facing today so we are working by building partnerships and collaborations. We believe that having an outside view will surface innovative ideas and perspectives. This can stimulate the debate beyond our comfort zone and can generate creative solutions. Our approach combines cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary work that reflects the position and ambition of the profession.
We focus on thought-leading ideas that have the potential to drive systemic effect and develop solutions for wider impact. By taking an action research approach, we are creating a community of practice to improve the way we work on specific issues.
We are holding a radically different initiative to develop new forward-looking ideas and to engage with broader stakeholders. Our aim is to take a fresh approach to reimagine the future of reporting and how business can engage and communicate.
ICAEW and the FRC are facilitating this initiative to identify new possibilities, outside of the current reporting framework, for both current and future businesses to engage and communicate with their stakeholders. As part of our work in this area we will be hosting an Innovation Summit in July where radical ideas can be explored and developed into new forward-thinking solutions. We will be bringing together key players and new and different perspectives to explore:For more information on this please visit http://auditfutures.org/
New horizons for accountancy – AuditFutures at the World Congress of Accountants
We were invited by IFAC to host a session at the World Congress and share our work with the global profession. This panel session was exciting, challenging and interesting. It helped us to expand our mind. Our panellists were not accountants – they helped bring new disciplines, new skills and new perspectives to change our thinking. They highlighted new possibilities: the world is changing, society’s requirements are changing, and the profession needs to change too.
Accountants as pioneers for change
The AuditFutures community has been recognised as pioneers for change and our work is featured in the Huffington Post. You can read the blog here. It is both inspirational and truly humbling to see accountants listed among people who fight for women and girls human rights, natural world philanthropists and education foundations for underprivileged school children.
Accountancy Salon on Design & Trust
Our first Accountancy Salon, on design and trust, introduced fresh perspectives to the ongoing questions regarding the future of audit and offered design ideas that can deliver social change. The Salon expanded the boundaries of our thinking and aspirations in several ways. It built on our work and research on trust by adding a philosophical twist and design principles. As a catalyst for the discussion and an application of this new thinking, the event showcased the five design questions and propositions that students from the Royal College of Art have co-created with us as part of their academic programme.
Enlightening professions? A vision for audit and a better society
This partners hip with the Royal Society of the Arts brought together over 200 contributions from accounting professionals and civil society leaders and produced a ground-breaking report. Enlightening Professions? A vision for audit and a better society encourages greater collaboration and debate across the professions and offers them a place to look forward, to access the bigger picture and express their highest aspirations.