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Accounting News Roundup: PwC Wants Data Scientists; Auditing Non-Financial Info; Partner Liability | 02.15.16

Ed. note: We'll be observing Presidents Day today so posting will be on the light side. Send us tips and links to our mailbag or drop them in Open Items for discussion. We'll be back to full speed tomorrow.

PwC seeks more data scientists to analyse deals [FT]
Over the years, we've established that the "the cloud" is the tiredest technology trope within the accounting profession (Greg is just now joining us). In a distant second, I think, would have to be BIG DATA. It's one of those nebulous terms that experts and thought leaders like to throw around without articulating the details. "Be on the lookout for trends in BIG DATA," some guy might say. "Okay! I will!" credulous conference goers think to themselves.

Well, the latest trend in BIG DATA as it relates to the accounting profession is that PwC is looking to hire a bunch of people who know a thing or two about it:

Professional services firm PwC plans to add more than a thousand data scientists to its deals business in the next two years, illustrating how firms are reshaping their workforces to reflect advances in technology.

PwC’s deals division involves processing large amounts of information for clients for due diligence, valuations and tax structuring. The firm, which is the largest of the ‘big four’ by global revenues, employs 500 data scientists across its global deals business and wants to triple this in the next 18-24 months.

"Our business is very vulnerable unless we modernise and use data," John Dwyer, PwC’s global head of deals, said. "We have to be more progressive and change our workforce from traditional accountants to hire more data scientists, mathematicians and those who are comfortable with computer algorithms."

PwC's leader of audit transformation, Bill Brennan spoke about the importance of data science in our conversation with him late last year:

There is no doubt that the skills required by our current and future staff will require change over the near term.  The training and educational requirements are already being influenced by things like data auditing, data analytics/analysis, cloud computing and data security.  In fact, these are courses my daughter (a college senior audit/accounting major) will be taking as part of her MBA program next year.

So it sound like mathematics will become part of the foundation of knowledge for future accountants. Which is interesting because if I had a nickel for every person I'd met who who got into accounting because like they liked numbers but hated math, I'd have quite a few nickels.

Non-financial information must be as reliable as financial counterpart, ICAEW says [Accountancy Age]
Take Volkswagen as an example:

The disclosure last year that Volkswagen installed devices to circumvent mandatory emissions regulations for its diesel engines has caused the company's shareholders and bondholders to suffer billions of euros in losses.

Head of the ICAEW's audit and assurance faculty Henry Irving said: "As important as financial statements are, business accountability is not based entirely on the balance sheet. Investors, and others also want to know about company's corporate social responsibility, carbon emissions, diversity or ethics.

One of the things I didn't ask Bill Brennan about was the future of assurance of non-financial information. In the case of Volkswagen, the company's chairman did promise to "assign emissions certification to independent auditors in the future." This is an area I have absolutely no knowledge about, so I can't say who that "independent auditor" would be, but I do know big audit firms like flaunt their reputations for integrity around, so I could see them elbowing their way into some of this work (if they haven't already). 

Auditor Changes Roundup: Q4 2015 [Audit Analytics]
Gosh, sorry for all this audit related stuff, but if you like keeping score (or just knowing who won), then we'll mention that Marcum was the big winner (+6) and BDO was the big loser (-10) for public issuers in Q4 of 2015.

Previously, on Going Concern…
I wrote about the everyday jeans backlash.

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