There are challenges ahead and the profession has a choice of embracing them or being left behind - were the main conclusions of a joint ACCA-Grant Thornton conference recently held in Brussels
In today’s world, everything is in constant flux, including technology, regulations and resources. The complexity and global interconnectedness of today’s business environment have resulted in growing demand for assurance that information is disclosed fairly and accurately. When nothing can be expected to be the same from one day to the next - but certainty has become prerequisite- , the need for audit is imperative to sustain confidence in the markets. But one pace of development may not suit all.
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Grant Thornton jointly hosted a series of roundtables worldwide with the view to scope the drivers of change and the potential options for evolution for audit and the profession in the medium/long term future. The findings of these roundtables are featured in a recent report called the Future of Audit, which served as a basis for the joint ACCA-Grant Thornton conference organised under the auspices of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU. The need for open dialogue and strengthened collaboration between all actors to both overcome existing and future challenges and design the right path to make audit still relevant in ten years’ time was clearly highlighted.
Maggie McGhee, Director of Professional Insights at ACCA opened the debate: “The audit profession is at an important crossroad. It can either retreat, losing relevance as technology takes over; or grab hold of opportunities, including those offered by new digital possibilities and new non-traditional information.
As former Commissioner Michel Barnier used to say: ‘status quo is not an option’. At ACCA, we are always thinking ahead, and it is important to us that we are working cohesively with other actors to create platforms, such as today’s interactive multistakeholders conference, where progressive ideas can be exchanged”.
Arnold Schilder, Chairman of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) said: “Challenges and opportunities are two sides of the same future-of-audit coin.
Let me put four coins on the table. The first one is about understanding the business of the auditee, its corporate defense and value preservation, as a cornerstone of a robust audit. The second relates to professional skepticism and professional judgment, as key inputs to audit quality. The third coin is a warning: “Audits are not dying yet, but they do need to adapt to the digital age.” The fourth and final coin is about encouraging the new auditor reporting with key audit matters, linking to my favorite topic: innovation in auditor reporting. It is vital that we continue to stimulate highly relevant auditor reporting and all of us have a role to play”.
Sue Almond, Head of Assurance, Grant Thornton UK concluded “In a rapidly changing world, audit does have a future. That is how our joint ACCA- Grant Thornton report sets the tone. Why was audit invented? To provide trust and confidence in financial information that underpins a vibrant economy. That is just as relevant today as it always has been. But the information people look to trust, and the way businesses compile it, has changed and so 'audit' needs to evolve. As a profession, we need to be bold and embrace innovation.
There are several key hurdles that need to be overcome to achieve this. Any new standard setting will need to take account of broad stakeholder input and provide sufficient flexibility for innovation and experimentation. An open, transparent debate with all is critical.”
Notes to Editors
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ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers 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 188,000 members and 480,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 95 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee 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.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com