Video: Trust in audit and technology – an Accountancy Age panel debate

Video: Trust in audit and technology – an Accountancy Age panel debate

Accountancy Age’s first filmed panel debate offers a discussion around the issue of trust in audit – a profession which encounters both a growing use of technology and an increasing scepticism from clients caused by the misunderstanding of the profession’s role.

In this panel debate, guest speakers discuss the challenges faced by the audit industry today while focusing on the lack of trust in audit and technology amid the collapse of many UK businesses that highlighted the absence of government intervention.

Interviewed by Accountancy Age Reporter Leanna Reeves, guest speakers include Brian Palmer, Tax policy Expert at AAT; Steve Gale, Head of Audit at Crowe; and James Poyser, CEO of inniAccounts.

Key takeaways from this panel include:

Trust is still present, but confidence is decreasing 

When asked about the lack of trust in the current audit market, the discussion led into the topic of confidence and understanding – in which the main issue facing the profession today isn’t the lack of trust from clients and the public, but an overall misunderstanding of the role it encompasses.

Gale explained throughout the debate:

Audit is not there to prevent corporate failure, it is there to ensure there is appropriate corporate reporting.

This section of the debate can be viewed here.

A better understanding of audit is needed

Often viewed as a product rather than a service, audit embodies an effective tool in which companies trust the financial reporting and corporate report.

Following this clarification on the role of audit, Gale added:

Audit is not there fundamentally to stop companies from collapsing – that is the role of the board of directors who run the company on behalf of the shareholders.

This section of the debate can be viewed here.

The government is only partly responsible in maintaining trust

Gale argued it is not entirely the government’s duty to do so yet Sir Donald Brydon’s review will provide further judgement on the quality and effectiveness of the audit market.

Whether it is the audit committee or the government’s responsibility to ensure that trust in audit remains, the profession is ready and prepared for change.

This section of the debate can be viewed here.

A break-up of the Big Four would not necessarily increase confidence

Should a break-up of the Big Four solve the issue of trust, a UK legislation might not have an impact on the international network of firms.

This section of the debate can be viewed here.

The extent to which technology can bring trust in the audit market

Similar to Gale’s view on audit, Palmer argued that technology should be used as a tool:

Technology should, if used properly, be a tool for the auditor, the accountant, or the tax advisor.

Following the discussion on the use of technology in both the audit and accountancy industry, Poyser raised a key question in the debate: “What happens when it’s right and you’re wrong?” – highlighting how the use of AI, automation, or cloud technology could provide greater confidence in data whilst challenging the traditional role of audit.

This section of the debate can be viewed here.

Retaining scepticism and investing trust in technology

As technology translates into scepticism by many, the debate opens a crucial question that professionals in the industry face today: how to choose between the professional advisory’s years of experience and the computer.

This section of the debate can be viewed here.

To find out more about trust in audit and technology, watch Accountancy Age’s full panel debate by clinking on this link.

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