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Making audit jam

Collaboration can help the profession to innovate and turn some of its most difficult challenges into opportunities, says AuditFutures programme manager Martin Martinoff.

There are disruptive forces at work in many industries and many professions, and audit is no exception. Increasing regulation, digital technologies, new business models, fall-out from the financial crisis and changing expectations of audit - and accountancy at large - are among the forces coming together to reshape the profession, whether it welcomes this or not. Rising to these emerging challenges is difficult for all members of the audit profession: from the Big Four, through other smaller international and national networks, to small firms and sole practitioners. Those in and around the profession will need to collaborate if they are to be as successful in the 21st century as they were in the 20th.

Some professions, medicine and information technology for example, are expected to be innovative and are widely perceived as such. It may not be easy for audit to join them on the 'bleeding edge' and reshape perceptions of the profession, if only because auditors often find themselves in the unfortunate position of being known by their failures. However, the profession has recently demonstrated that it can innovate in response to the changing needs of stakeholders in business, investment, regulation, politics and society. Its response to the UK for new-style audit reports exceeded the regulatory demands and balanced the needs of mammon and the public interest, despite ever changing perspectives on what the latter is.

This is an extract from an article in the July/August 2015 edition of Audit & Beyond, the magazine of the Audit and Assurance Faculty.

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