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Tax Practice Development

The 2024 Audit Survey Report: Bridging the technology gap

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

Audit professionals are seeking digital transformation and new AI-powered tools to solve for talent challenges and more

In the rapidly evolving field of corporate audit, the adoption of cutting-edge tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as generative AI (GenAI) is seen as both a beacon of potential opportunity and a challenge to be surmounted.

Now, the Thomson Reuters Institute’s 2024 Audit Survey delves into this issue, shedding light on the current landscape of technology adoption within audit firms across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, revealing a mix of enthusiasm, preparedness, and hesitancy.

The report finds the audit industry is at a crossroads, recognizing the need for audit firms to engage aggressively in digital transformation in order to stay relevant and competitive while also being cautious of the challenges that lie ahead. The 2024 Audit Survey highlights a clear consensus among audit professionals on the potential of technologies like GenAI to transform the industry. However, the report also calls attention to the pragmatic aspects of such transformations in terms of staffing, financial investment, and the broader tech adoption process.

Indeed, as the report points out, the road ahead requires not only an alignment of technological capabilities and business strategies but also the creation of a robust framework for upskilling employees and a clear vision for technological integration.

The promise of technology

The survey upon which the report is based engaged 180 audit professionals and underscores their significant interest in the integration of progressive technologies. These tools, particularly those leveraging GenAI, are recognized for their potential to revolutionize traditional audit practices by enhancing efficiency in risk assessment, improving precision in data management, and fostering stronger client engagement. The anticipated benefits are seen as substantial, offering not only time savings but also improved accuracy and deeper client satisfaction.audit

Despite the clear interest in technological advancement, audit firm professionals said they are encountering several barriers that slow down the pace of implementation. One of the primary challenges highlighted in the survey is the staffing issue as a clear lack of skilled personnel who can manage and leverage these new technologies is a significant hurdle. This gap between the skills currently available within audit firms and those required to effectively deploy and utilize GenAI and other advanced technologies is stark.

Further, there is a noted disparity in the adoption rates among professionals in the countries surveyed. Firms in the US are reportedly ahead in integrating these technologies compared to their counterparts in the UK and Canada, where the pace of adoption lags. This variation may be attributed to differences in regulatory environments, market pressures, or levels of investment in technology.

Adopting new technologies is not just a matter of will but also of resource allocation. The survey points out that the implementation of advanced technologies requires substantial investment. For many firms, particularly smaller ones, finding the capital necessary to invest in such technologies while also managing day-to-day operations can be daunting. This financial hurdle is compounded by the need for ongoing education, training, and support to ensure that staff can effectively use these new tools.

In fact, the report cited four areas in the audit process in which survey respondents thought use of GenAI and other advanced technologies could be most helpful. These areas included:

      • Pre-engagement — the point at which the client is engaged, and audit data information is collected
      • Planning — when relevant risks are identified, and requisite audit programs are designed
      • Execution & fieldwork — the point at which audit procedures are conducted, reviewed, and approved; and
      • Reporting & wrap-up — when final reports and statements are prepared and delivered

Clearly, many audit professionals see the benefit of leveraging GenAI and other advanced technologies at virtually every level of the audit process, emphasizing the importance of this issue for the industry.

As the report makes clear, the journey towards full digital transformation is complex and filled with challenges; however, the potential benefits of adopting advanced technologies like GenAI in the audit industry are too significant to ignore.

By addressing the hurdles of skills, investment, and strategic implementation, many audit firms can enhance their operational efficiency and client satisfaction, thereby positioning themselves at the forefront of the industry’s future.

You can download a full copy of the Thomson Reuters Institute’s “2024 Audit Survey” by filling out the form below:

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