Global assurance is an area of large, fast-paced change. Over the last three decades, Sue Almond has witnessed these major shifts first hand. As a member of the team that developed Grant Thornton’s first global approach to audit, Sue is no stranger to seeing the opportunities that challenges can provide. The UK/US standard she helped create laid the foundations for the global flows of data that provide a consistent language for investors and shareholders today.
Sue was recently appointed to lead global assurance, a role that will call on her to apply this kind of thinking to the world of global assurance and audit. Her experience and dedication will help Grant Thornton continue to evolve its service and drive positive disruption in the assurance area.
“When I first joined Grant Thornton in 1988, there were no computers or conference calls, let alone anything approaching a set of global assurance standards. I can vividly remember sending boxes across the world and waiting to receive important files in the same way. These days the global economy is far more connected and technology has created mountains of available data, yet the role of audit and assurance still remains pivotal in helping to pick out the most important nuggets of information.
Assurance has also become a powerful tool for building integrity and trust in business, and I believe that companies value it now more than ever. Corporate reporting is no longer just about profit and loss, companies often need to include data about business drivers and controls as well as factors like gender, modern slavery and future viability.
The audit product itself has been in place for many decades but has not evolved a huge amount over that time. I think this gives us the opportunity to reimagine what audit is in the current world and redefine its scope to be more focussed on what’s valuable. A lot of detailed transactions are automated, and people are increasingly interested in the judgements and decisions being made rather than focusing on the detail. And at the moment, audit isn’t designed in a way that provides specific assurance on fraud or the viability of a business and these things are increasingly important to stakeholders.
I certainly believe that identifying the most valuable information to stakeholders highlights a wider issue around the whole of the assurance area. For example, there are evolving forms of financial reporting, which are much more integrated. These could form a blueprint going forward as they tell a much more extended story about the drivers and key controls of the business that underpin the financial outcomes, rather than narrowly focusing on the financial stats. And users want to know they can trust that story, which is where we come in.
It’s an exciting time to be looking to innovate in assurance and audit. We are in a fabulous position to be able to build trust and integrity and shape the market of the future.
The constant change really excites me and being able to work with an engaged and motivated team to figure out our opportunities is a really energising and positive experience.”
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