AuditFutures Second Assembly Key Insights

AuditFutures is capturing the passion and commitment of a diverse community and emerging as the voice of innovation in audit.

In a modern world of growing information disclosure and rapid technological innovation, the content and scope of audit must evolve. This will ensure the relevance of audit-for-business decisions in an environment of greater complexity and interconnectivity.

By taking a radical new approach, we have inspired not only people from the profession but also academics, think tanks, policymakers, standard-setters, investors, bankers, and leaders from civil society. By working together and using the proven facilitation methods of the Finance Innovation Lab, we have hosted numerous events that allow small groups of people to participate in discussions. By exploring new ways to innovate in audit we have understood that collaboration is needed in order to achieve significant goals.

At the second AuditFutures assembly on 7 December, we took the next step and moved into more specific areas. Using an open-space process, where all participants sit in a circle, we asked people with ideas and suggestions to step forward and host a discussion.

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Over 20 participants hosted working groups on specific ideas. Each group discussed the changes needed, the immediate next steps and the long-term impact that is desired. These are some of the initiatives that have emerged from the discussions:

Stakeholder mapping: it is often not clear who or what ‘society’ is and it will be helpful for businesses to have a more concrete concept of the people and organisations that they should be accountable to.

Working with internal audit: we need to establish how internal and external audit can work together with management to ensure corporate sustainability and success.

Reducing audit box-ticking and documentation: limit documentation to what is truly important by leading an international dialogue to reduce the length and complexity of auditing standards.

Asking society what it wants from audit: working in the best interests of society will help close the expectation gap. Auditors should do what is expected, rather than simply managing expectations.

Improving the public image of audit: what initiatives, if any, can and should be taken to change the public image of the audit and accounting professions?

Impact of social media on audit: how do social media, mobile and cloud technologies, and ‘big data’ impact on when, how and what we audit?

Audit competition: how do we stimulate healthy competition and innovation while at the same time increasing the collaboration between different audit firms?

Crowdsourcing audit: how could crowdsourcing contribute to the audit of a specific entity or sector?

Building trust in SMEs: how can we inspire and support ambitious SMEs in this economic climate?

Audit education: how do we bring auditor skills and competencies up to date?

Barriers to audit being ‘ideal’: is there something in the nature of our institutions that prevents audit from being ‘ideal’ and can this be changed?

There is great value in audit and the profession needs to back itself more and not hide behind technical, legal or regulatory frameworks.

Real-world auditing: how do we widen our view of the business beyond what is written in financial documents? How do we move from numbers to words and provide forward-looking reviews of real-world experiences and behaviours that are drivers of future performance?

Audit that serves all: how do we integrate financial, social and environmental audits into one audit so we bring complex issues together into a single, simplified report?

Looking ahead

So, what’s next?  We see AuditFutures working at three levels. The broader efforts are to communicate our work effectively and engage stakeholders dynamically. It is important to continue building our community and share our work with a wider international audience, and we are fostering collaborative relationships in practice and with regulators, standard-setters and civil society leaders.

In addition to maintaining momentum, we are working with innovation groups to develop their ideas. With regular workshops, coaching sessions and leadership retreats, we are developing projects with immediate and long-term impacts.

Download a printable summary of the event here