PwC reveals “big deal” tech plan to boost audit quality
PwC has committed to an additional £30m annual spend to boost training, employee numbers and technology in a bid to improve its audit process. It includes a huge hire of 500 new audit experienced staff.
“It’s a big deal,” says Hemione Hudson, head of Audit at PwC UK, “It’s as big an investment in the audit practice I can remember and I’ve been here more than 20 years.”
As part of its investment, PwC aims to tackle public scrutiny commonplace with UK audits with investment in training, people and technology. It will also align PwC’s audit business behind audit quality and tackle culture.
One of the largest professional services firms in the world, PwC’s audit services have come under severe fire with following its involvement in scandals such as BHS. The Big Four’s share of the market has led politicians to call for change, and a series of reviews have been or are being conducted into how perceived failings might be addressed.
“There’s been a huge amount of scrutiny on the profession and a number of reviews,” says Hudson, “so for many months we have been thinking about what we should do proactively. That’s because we’ve said right from the outset that we are up for change. But we’re up for change where we think it improves audit quality.”
The areas of audit facing improvement under this latest set of measures targets training, people and technology initiatives. The measures will also aim to double the face-to-face training programme for experienced auditors while also pledging to recruit 500 additional auditors. The audit quality control team will be increased by 66%.
While Hudson admits this latest investment is not “the answer to all questions asked by the industry”, it does however pump money into technological innovation to improve audit quality.
“This is very much focused on audit quality,” says Hudson, “that’s why we’re creating a digital audit team, by bringing together our digital experts, automation specialists and data analytics and AI teams to ensure we get the best technology audit for our audience across all markets.
“There are a number of questions being asked [by the industry], such as the structure and remit of the regulator as well as what audit products should look like under the Brydon review – clearly this is not covering that,” she says.