The Auditor In 10 Years

In an article in accountingTODAY, posted April 1, 2022, Daniel Hood writes that “while every profession changes over time, the rapid deployment of revolutionary technologies and the expected expansion of the field far beyond purely financial information mean that auditors can expect their profession to change more than most — and that will mean they’ll have to change, too. In 10 years, auditors will need a number of new skill sets, new competencies and new capabilities, and they’ll want to start developing many of them now — whether they’re currently in the profession, or are just starting their careers.”

“When I think about the auditor of tomorrow, I think part accountant, part technologist, part data analyst, and then throw in a specialty of some sort (whether it be industry, or deeper technology, like cyber),” Hood quotes Sue Coffey, the CEO of public accounting at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, as saying. “We can’t be everything to everyone, but we will need foundational knowledge and experience in key areas. And, as business becomes more complex, that will drive specialties. A young auditor will need to think about this.”

Tech-savvy: It may seem obvious to suggest that future auditors will need to be more than comfortable with technology, but it’s going to be so critical to the field that the need simply cannot be emphasized enough. “They need to be extremely strong at technology, and not the wiring, but understanding artificial intelligence and understanding those particular skills,” said Al Anderson, founder and president of AccountAbility Plus.

Jon Raphael, audit and assurance national managing partner – transformation and assurance at Deloitte & Touche, laid out a specific set of areas of information technology that will become important. “Included in that are things like data and analytics – so, managing databases, understanding data acquisition, understanding how to transform the data so that we know that it is complete and accurate, and then how to create analysis from them using various methods, whether it’s statistical or algorithm-based in so way, shape or form to be able to turn data into information. And that all starts with understanding the nuts and bolts of IT, how computers work and databases work.”

Analysts, not just collectors: Much of the grunt work of the audit is going to be automated, and that will mean taking a different approach to data. “Since technology will bring together data from many different sources, the auditor’s focus will not be on compiling the data but on analysis — deep analysis,” said the AICPA’s Coffey. “Having the ability to slice and dice data to create really meaningful information about the client and industry will become a more regular occurrence.”

To be sure, there are things that won’t change, though, says John King, vice chair of assurance for the Americas at Ernst & Young. “Auditors will still need to bring professional skepticism and technical knowledge to the table, along with a sense of integrity and independence.”

For more insights, see The auditor in 10 years | Accounting Today.