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The long view on small firm changes

Audit & Beyond speaks to former faculty and Practitioner Services Panel volunteer, Peter Upton, about sole practitioner perspectives on past and future changes that are affecting the world of audit, including the move from paper to computers and gender diversity in the office.

Upton’s lengthy career in accountancy gives him some interesting perspectives on the past and future of the profession, in areas ranging from technology, through diversity, to auditing standards – and some of the challenges the profession faces. “There have always been challenges; always will be. When clients first started using computers in the 1970s we worried that they could do accountants and bookkeepers out of a job, but there seem to be more accountants now than ever before,” says the Maidenhead-based practitioner.

Things have changed a lot since Upton became an accountant: “The amount of 14-column analysis paper we used was extraordinary. Spreadsheets were handwritten and calculations were done manually.” He adds that technology has brought massive benefits to accountancy – although auditors have not always been quick to embrace them. “Computers in audit have become ubiquitous relatively recently,” says Upton, whose firm adopted computer auditing tools around 12 years ago.