The value of the audit is largely untapped. Innovative audit technology is changing the landscape.
Where is the value in audit? We’ve heard time and again an audit report is only valuable to provide stakeholders with a level of historical comfort but gives little, if any, foresight. The monumental opportunity that few firms capitalize on is the in-depth understanding of a client’s operations, which is both required to conduct an effective audit and valuable to helping the client grow. So, how can firms unlock this potential and infuse greater value in the audit process? In a recent webcast interview, Mark Edmondson, CEO of Inflo limited, denoted “three Cs” that will enable firms to move from the transactional compliance-focused audit to a higher value continuous process: Capabilities, Competencies, and Commercials.
Traditionally, the audit process begins with a surface level view of trial balance data and a top down approach to understanding a client’s business. In recent years, there has been an influx of robotic process automation and machine learning products introduced to the market, allowing auditors to leverage the cloud for virtual access of all relevant client data. Audit teams can now use data ingestion technologies like Thomson Reuters Audit Intelligence powered by Inflo to automatically obtain full transaction level detail from any accounting system in each phase of the audit – planning, fieldwork and concluding. This capability completely changes the auditor’s focus from analyzing a surface-level trial balance to beginning with in-depth transaction level visualizations.
In today’s highly compressed talent environment your firm needs to provide employees with opportunities to develop new skills and grow in their careers. Organized training programs are important, but there is no substitute for real life experience and on-the-job training. Mechanized data visualization capabilities lead to auditors more effectively analyzing results, asking better questions earlier in the audit process, and delivering more valuable insights to the client. The result is a natural talent upskill from a checklist mentality to a more advisory-focused service across the firm.
Not only do your teams learn new skills, but the client’s perspective of what the audit is begins to shift from an annual compliance requirement to a continuous consultative relationship. Clients are demanding more insight from their CPA. The audit enables the most in depth, frontline view of their operations. It is therefore the ideal catalyst for ongoing advisory client interaction. As your firm engages clients digitally and continuously, your ability to justify fees and change your business model will become a reality.
Where is the value of an audit? It’s in the ability of audit teams to be immersed in client data, to fully understand client operations, identify trends, and provide valuable insight for their growth. Investing in the automation of routine tasks and accessibility to client data empowers your teams to develop new skills and leads to a transformative value proposition for your firm. Innovative audit technology is changing the landscape.