The Future of Audit is T-Shaped
By Andrea van der Giezen, JAN© Auditors & Business Consultants B.V.
The future of audit is upon us! Are your audit teams T-shaped yet? A lot has changed within the financial auditing profession in recent years. We are in the middle of a golden age of innovation with new technological possibilities. But the future of audit is not only about the digital innovation; it also relates to quality standards and trying to reduce the expectation gap.
Of course, quality is an important issue and oversight boards have become stricter to re-establish trust in the quality of audits. Due to raised quality standards auditing has become box ticking: perhaps too much. Unfortunately, the expectation gap with the public has not been reduced by all the formalities. Soft skills, like being able to communicate clearly, turn out to be a vital part of our future, both to reach the public and to be able do our work properly.
The auditor has a privileged position because he or she has access to confidential business information. It creates a moral obligation to the public to inform them if necessary. But how do you build a bridge between shareholders and stakeholders? To be able to be a “modern auditor” you also must have soft skills. Therefore, it is recommended that audit teams become more “T-shaped”: combining thorough theoretical knowledge (length of the T) with more common knowledge and skills (width of the T), to try to reduce the gap. Other businesses have travelled down this road before us, for instance the medical and legal profession. There is of course no easy solution for this challenge, but to think about what the public needs from auditors should be the central question if we think about the future of audit.
If both knowledge and soft skills can be adequately combined within each person, is questionable. Of course, not every auditor can possess such cleverness. But an audit team can be put together in a way that the required combination is available between the team members. For instance: besides a team member who is the best communicator, there could also be a team member with IT as specialism, a team member with focus on management of the assignment, etc. So here we come to the basis for the future: the new generation of auditors. Are they going to do it differently, and will the current generation let them? I hope that the new generation will not be put off by old ways and offce politics. Olof Bik, Professor of Behavioural Research in Auditing at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands, has said that it is the responsibility of the older auditors to kindle the proverbial flame, and to prevent that flame from going out. Perhaps this is the biggest challenge for our future: the future is now.
Andrea van der GiezenGGI member firm
JAN© Auditors & Tax Advisers B.V.
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Tax
Amsterdam, Weesp, Rijnsburg, Zwanenburg, The Netherlands
T: +31 88 2202 321
JAN© Auditors & Tax Advisers B.V. is a Dutch audit and tax advisory firm, employing 170 people in four offices near Schiphol and Amsterdam. JAN© helps a wide range of (inter) national clients, providing services in the areas of taxation, administration, audits, personnel, salaries, and law.
Andrea van der Giezen, RA, RB, is a senior partner and a member of the board of directors of JAN©. Andrea is responsible for compliance and quality within JAN©. She has vast experience as an auditor. As well as being a certified public auditor, Andrea is also a chartered tax adviser.
Published: Auditing, Reporting & Compliance Newsletter, No. 05, Spring 2021 l Photo: misign - stock.adobe.com