ACCA: Audit must evolve or die

DEVELOPED AUDIT MARKETS see the process of audit as neither timely nor insightful as to where businesses could perform better.

That’s the message from ACCA’s Future of Audit report produced in conjunction with Grant Thornton, which found that while audit and assurance is still seen as important in developed markets, it is valued far more highly in countries where it is still nascent than in established markets.

The institute and the top six firm held series of roundtables in China, the EU, Singapore, South Africa, the UAE, the UK and Ukraine – yielding disparate opinions on the position of audit.

The roundtables also showed that while there are advantages to developing global rules, standard setters should be sensitive to the fact that countries are evolving at a different pace.

Andrew Gambier, ACCA head of audit and assurance, said there is a “definite feeling” that the traditional audit process is not delivering enough.

He said: “Investors want insights on how a company could have addressed risks better or where they could have maximised profits. Although enhanced auditor reporting has gone down well in the UK, and is now being rolled out elsewhere, there’s a belief that the audit should evolve to allow auditors to provide more valuable insights about a wider range of measures.

“While the traditional approach might reassure regulators and company bosses, its usefulness to investors is shrinking all the time, prompting questions over its future. Business leaders expect information in real time, so why do we expect investors to wait months for the audit reports?”

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