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Audit and AI – tentative first steps to improve audit quality and efficiency

Date

02 Jul 2019

Sections

Euro & Finance
Innovation & Enterprise

The audit profession is still at the very early stages of introducing artificial intelligence, but should guard against full implementation, reveals ACCA and CA ANZ’sAudit and Technology report.

A survey of ACCA members and affiliates about their understanding of terms such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), data analytics and robotic process automation (RPA), revealed technology’s ability to renew processes that improve audit quality and increase efficiency.

The report reveals how technology is also a catalyst that will help shift the focus of the audit process from a retrospective view to one which is prospective. It also assesses the technologies having most impact on the audit profession as we know it today.

Drawing on existing research and exploring the views of leading practitioners, it provides an understanding of how the changing business environment is shaping technological change in auditing – summarising how different technologies could be expected to impact its future and what this means for auditors as people.

Key findings in the report also revealed:

  • Among the available technologies, data analytics is currently the most mature and is currently used by most firms
  • The audit profession is still at a very early stage with AI and has not embedded it as deeply as it could
  • The human relationship between client and auditor remains important: not everything can be replaced by technology
  • Auditors will need to be more adaptable to change in future

ACCA’s report Closing the Expectation Gap in Audit found that 55% of the general public across 11 countries believe that, if auditors followed the requirements of existing auditing standards, they could prevent corporate failure.

Furthermore, 70% believe that audit should evolve to prevent corporate failure. Although some may reasonably argue that such demands are unrealistic, technology may help to satisfy the public demand, at least partly, in future.

Maggie McGhee, executive director – governance at ACCA, said: ‘Technology offers the ability both to improve the quality of audit and to add value to it: audit is moving from being a reactive, backward-looking exercise to a proactive, predictive, forward-looking one, working in real time.

‘As such, it provides an opportunity to help clients by providing timely insights. Even in its traditional context, technology now offers an opportunity to produce higher-quality audits that better serve for their existing purpose.

‘Nonetheless, if AI and related technologies are fully implemented, it could raise questions about the auditor’s independence.

‘We hope Audit and Technology provides insights for both businesses and auditors themselves on how they may adapt most effectively in the face of significant change.’

Simon Grant, Group Executive International Development and Advocacy & Professional Standing at CA ANZ, said: ‘If we can anticipate the possible impacts of technology and harness it so we understand the benefits to the accounting profession, technological change could then be such an empowering opportunity rather than a challenge for our profession.’

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For media enquiries, contact:

Maurice Richmond

E: Maurice.Richmond@accaglobal.com

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7059 5138

Mobile: +44 (0) 7802 951809

Twitter: @ACCANews

 

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development.

Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here:www.accaglobal.com

About CA ANZ

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) is a professional body comprised of over 120,000 diverse, talented and financially astute members who utilise their skills every day to make a difference for businesses the world over.

Members are known for their professional integrity, principled judgment, financial discipline and a forward-looking approach to business which contributes to the prosperity of our nations.

We focus on the education and lifelong learning of our members, and engage in advocacy and thought leadership in areas of public interest that impact the economy and domestic and international markets. We are a member of the International Federation of Accountants, and are connected globally through the 800,000-strong Global Accounting Alliance and Chartered Accountants Worldwide which brings together leading Institutes in Australia, England and Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa to support and promote over 320,000

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