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The Future Audit Team: Smaller, Nerdier, Expensiver

As auditing changes, naturally, so will the auditors. Technology drives a lot of this change so it stands to reason that people who understand and build technology will become the new auditors. Or, maybe accounting programs will become more technology focused.

Either way, recruiting auditors will look very different and sooner than you might think. This Financial Times article covers this pretty well but you can boil things down to these four quotes:

  • "Given the rate at which technology is speeding up audit, [new graduate hires] could drop by 50 per cent in 2020.”  — Steve Varley, chairman and managing partner for the UK and Ireland at EY.
  • “They will audit large companies with a team that can fit into a conference room, rather than occupying an entire office tower.” — Jim Peterson, former Andersen partner, author and sometimes Going Concern contributor
  • "Right now the challenge is to make sure we have the correct balance of people who will do the interpreting and people who will make sure computers are set up to interrogate properly.” — Adrian Stone, UK head of audit at KPMG
  • “We may have to start recruiting from technology companies. In the modern world these guys will be hot talent so they will be an expensive resource.” — Stephen Griggs, managing partner of audit and risk advisory at Deloitte UK

I'm wondering — can the "people who will make sure computers are set up to interrogate properly" and "people who will do the interpreting" be the same people? I don't see why not.

Sometimes I think the "human touch" to auditing is a little oversold — as if the technologists are these mole people who have a nervous breakdown when they poke their heads out to have a conversation with another human. As if only an auditor can handle interpreting the results and that the technologist couldn't learn those fundamentals on the job. As if a controller or CFO will only talk to someone who speaks debits and credits fluently.

In any case, at least the money will get better. If you know how to code, that is.