As part of its commitment to promoting a public debate on audit and assurance, the Federation of European Accountants (FEE) has published a discussion paper, the Future of Audit and Assurance. The paper lays out initial observations that could result in potential longer-term developments in audit, assurance, and other services. As the start of a journey, this paper examines some areas of development and poses questions.
Let us focus on the two main areas steering this debate:
Innovation Driven by Technology and Competence
IT developments and the increased complexity of our society and businesses should be seen as opportunities for auditors, but can very easily become threats. It will be essential for auditors to evolve and maintain professional knowledge and skillsets at the level required to respond to and keep up with these changes.
To this end, the appropriateness of the current education and training models, which are based on a number of historic disciplines, are increasingly being questioned as to whether they continue to build and develop the right competencies for the future.
This begs questions such as: How will you be affected by IT innovation in the coming years? For which types of services? How can we develop education to make it fit for purpose in the future? How can we ensure that we create a new type of auditor that can adapt and react to the current and future business challenges?
Alternatives to Better Meet Stakeholders’ Needs
There is probably some truth in the assertion that the profession is too focused on statutory audit, which operates within a demanding regulatory and legislative regime that might hold back innovation. We need to make use of our expertise and unique skillsets in developing other solutions that will better meet stakeholders’ needs.
This begs questions such as: How should practitioners’ adapt their range of service offerings to meet the current and future needs of SMEs? What about the large businesses? Will the market demand assurance on new types of reporting—CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), ESG (Environmental Social Governance), or IR (Integrated Reporting)—as they become more widespread? Why or why not? How can the profession help public sector entities achieve high-quality financial reporting?
Be Part of the Journey and Join the Conversation
FEE is committed to initiating and encouraging reflection and discussion for developing a vision for the future. We invite you to consult, share, and respond to this discussion paper by emailing comments to FEE by June 30, 2014. Comments may also be submitted via an online survey, which outlines all of the questions posed in the discussion paper. These will be analyzed and used by FEE as a basis for deciding next steps.
What does the future hold? Join the Conversation below.