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EY Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is on Audit Quality With a Technology Investment

EY announced today it is making a $1 billion investment in audit technology just weeks after WSJ reported that the firm is in the process of splitting its audit and consulting arms. $13.6 billion of EY’s $40 billion global revenue last year came from audit.

From EY:

EY today announces an investment of more than US$1b in a next generation assurance technology platform – part of a sustained focus on providing high quality audits and responding rapidly to changing expectations from regulators, governments, standard setters, audit committees and boards. The four-year investment is enabled by a wider US$2.5b program, announced by the EY organization in September 2021.

The investment will support the integration of existing EY Assurance technologies into one seamless platform that combines the strengths of the organization’s leading-class global audit platforms and leverages advanced technologies from EY alliance partners to power a new generation of data-driven assurance services.

The program to build an integrated assurance technology platform facilitates transformation in three major areas: data access capabilities and advanced analytics; artificial intelligence; and the user experience.

This investment could also give EY a leg up in the ongoing talent war; 80% of Gen Zers aspire to work with cutting-edge technology according to Dell research, a whopping 91% of them say technology would influence job choice among similar employment offers. Unlike the nebulous concepts of “culture” and “prestige,” firms quick to adapt the coolest toys immediately set themselves apart in the otherwise homogenized Big 4 experience.

EY hasn’t exactly won its people over with its technology thus far though. EY Canvas made our Worst of Auditing 2014 list and EY’s expense system Mercury made people want to quit in its early days. Quote: “Apparently Mercury doesn’t work and nobody in the firm is getting reimbursed for expenses until they can fix it. I love EY technology! /s” The good news is expectations are low so it won’t take much to impress.

Back to the press relase:

The integration and transformation of assurance technology will leverage the strong foundations of EY Assurance’s existing leading-class audit technology suite, including EY Canvas – the current EY cloud based global audit platform. This platform, one of the largest business-to-business (B2B) platforms in the profession, is accessed by over 350,000 EY client users and 120,000 EY people.

The investment program will also capitalize on the suite of EY Helix global data analyzers and global audit methodology. EY teams use these analyzers to process over 680b lines of company financial data each year, supporting a transformation that will allow the EY organization to analyze more financial and non-financial data, leveraging new statistical and predictive analytics.
These enhanced capabilities and globally consistent methods aim to facilitate advanced risk identification and mitigation and help prepare for the complex needs of expanding assurance- services, and help businesses to build further trust across the capital markets.

“This investment supports the delivery of data-driven audits and other assurance services, and ultimately provides a new level of capabilities to significantly improve the user experience. This transformation responds to audit committee and finance leaders’ expectations that now encompass not just audit and accounting, but also the broader reporting landscape including sustainability,” said Marc Jeschonneck, EY Global Assurance Digital Leader.

EY’s newest technology investment is part of a greater effort by Big 4 firms to leverage existing and emerging technology to put CPAs out of a job bolster their professional services offerings and give their people better tools through which to provide exceptional client service.