The audit profession has been reasonably stable for a long period of time, using tried and tested methodologies and technologies – until now.
With continued disruption to professional services industries, technology has played a pivotal role in turning the application of auditing upside down, and at times, back to front. The sheer capability of technologies now being used in the auditing process considered with machine learning and artificial intelligence is creating fear that the role of auditors is becoming increasingly redundant. So, is there really any job security for the profession – with technology willing and able to take over the role? What does the future hold, and where can auditors play a role in shaping the way auditing is done?
Depending on who you’re listening to, you might be thinking that innovations in audit and tax technology pose an existential threat to these careers. Some expect that the ability of artificial intelligence will surpass human professionals, to a point that eliminates the need for “non-machine workers.”
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom however, because the truth of the matter is that new technologies will change how the job is done, not replace it entirely.
Anyone who has been using audit software throughout their career knows how far it has come. Early iterations were clunky and frustrating to use and required a practiced user to operate effectively. Today’s audit software options offer users far more precise accuracy and reduced margins of error. The constant during the software’s progression is the need for a human touch. So, the requirement of human input and control means that audit software will remain a complement to human professionals’ work.
Communication practice is seemingly always being disrupted by new technologies. Consequently, professionals are changing how they interact with their clients – including in the audit sector. Communication technologies represent little threat to the audit and accounting professions. That is to say it’s safe to assume that these innovations will improve the operation and efficiency of human professionals. Faster and more comprehensive transfer of data will increase the speed and value of audit services.
The generation of data is exponential – more than 90% of the world’s data is estimated to have been produced since 2016. This sheer abundance of information requires technology with teeth to process it effectively. Most audit technologies require human drivers to maximise their potential. The largest and most obvious impact of technology is the elimination or automation or manual work. Refer to this article from Charted Accountants ANZ for more on how technology will help us to move forward.
Looking to the Future
For better or worse, technology will inevitably continue to make many professions obsolete. Fortunately, auditing is a discipline that benefits immensely from a human touch. For instance, technology has led audits from a historical exercise to one that delivers insights and recommendations for the future.
Financial professions are responsible for the development of many new technologies and innovations. And although new developments continue to amaze us and make some ways of life obsolete, there is always that fear that ours will be the next job to go. Auditors can rest easy however, that new technologies will change the way we work for the better. Those not in the job can have confidence that the service will become faster and more comprehensive and insightful.
If you have any other questions on the development of the audit profession, reach out to the team at Morrows.