ICAEW’s new audit and technology hub highlights tech-led changes that are transforming audit, and offers resources to help firms on the journey
Technology has transformed how we live and work so much and so fast that it can be difficult to stay on top of what is possible today, let alone what may be possible tomorrow. Audit firms and teams face a growing array of technologies and tools with the potential to enhance the quality of audit and make associated processes more effective and efficient. “It’s an exciting time to be an auditor,” says Marc Bena, PwC’s digital audit leader. “I think we are in the midst of a big cultural change.”
Tech is being used throughout the audit process, transforming how auditors audit companies, and how companies interact with their auditors. Our new audit and technology hub highlights how digital tools are helping audit to evolve in a data-heavy, fast-moving corporate world, and offers information, insights and practical resources that will help audit firms of all shapes and sizes remain relevant and vital to businesses now and in the future.
Digital tools are helping audit to evolve in a data-heavy, fast-moving corporate world
Our interactive graphic, How to use technology throughout the audit process, provides examples of the digital tools that are currently in use in audit, making the process more streamlined from start to finish. The graphic also shines a light on some of the more advanced technologies that in time may become standard in the audit process.
Accompanying the graphic, we also delve into separate but interlinking topics in six different articles. In What digital tools are auditors adopting? we take a look at whether the audit profession is on the brink of wholesale transformation, as tech adoption continues at pace.
A three-part series of articles on the hub considers ‘The future of audit technology’. In these articles we show how technology is changing the audit process, with perspectives from tech experts and auditors from different tiers within the UK audit market – small firms, mid-tier firms and larger firms.
Technological transformation in audit is not just affecting firms; clients, too, are having to adapt, as evidenced in Enhancing interconnectedness for audit teams and clients. Advanced workflow tools are boosting collaboration, turning the audit into a real-time continuous process providing clients with regular detailed insights, rather than a once-a-year troublesome process.
Advanced workflow tools are boosting collaboration, turning the audit into a real-time continuous process
“Computed-assisted audit techniques (CAATs) aren’t new,” says Bena. “However, what’s different now is the ease with which people can extract and analyse data and render it all the way through the financial audit.” Audit tech efficiency is no longer the preserve of the largest audit firms, others are also embedding new tools into the audit process to ensure the audit workflow is quicker and smarter.
James Hadfield, a partner and Head of Audit at Top 30 firm Menzies, says that artificial intelligence (AI) in particular is increasingly having an impact on audit workflow: “It’s been around in the background for a long time, since CAATs,” he says, but use of AI is becoming more widespread and normalised. “In the past five years, it’s really started to get traction and we’re all now seeing it as a necessary part of what we’re doing.”
On the audit and technology hub, Hadfield shares practical insights into how Menzies and its audit clients are benefitting from the firm’s use of digital audit management software that is driven by automation, AI and analytics. It helped to facilitate remote working post-COVID, enabling the firm to work more closely and collaboratively with clients, exchanging data more easily and improving the quality of data analysis and insights.
Use of AI is becoming more widespread and normalised
At Saffery Champness, James Berridge, Senior Manager, Data Analytics, is also seeing the positive impact that smarter technologies can have on the delivery of audit services. Likewise, Tom Allison, Associate Director at Buzzacott. On the audit and technology hub, both auditors highlight AI-enabled tech tools they are using to automate and speed up processes ranging from client on-boarding to document matching.
Identifying and arranging access to smarter, faster technology tools can be easier for audit firms than encouraging and enabling their people to experiment with and use them, suggests Bena. PwC is deploying significant resources to ensure that “everyone from partners to the associates” has the necessary training.
Finally, and crucially, the audit and technology hub considers one of the big questions around tech and the future of the profession: in Will new software boost audit’s attractiveness? we find out if new audit technologies can help turn the tide in recruitment at audit firms, helping them reinvigorate the profession, fending off the attractions of big tech and start-ups.