When I started to train as an auditor in 1996 computers had not yet been introduced. A manager would select his team of juniors based on the number of pilot cases he or she could carry in each arm. A partner would assess the quality of audit work by lifting up the audit files to feel if they were heavy enough. A paper world of tick and bash (indeed, one of my clients at the time still wrote up every single accounting entry in pencil).

Fast forward 20 years. Having gone through the Andersen’s led experiment with controls auditing, the great audit debate seems to be going around in circles. But one thing that almost everyone agrees on is the need for an auditor to review not only historical information, but also prospective financial information. Exactly how that should be done is still being… debated.

ICAEW (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales) is leading this debate. By looking forwards. It believes that the next-generation auditor will need the following:

  • Ethics and values
  • To be “guardians of data insight” with an ability to analyse Big Data
  • To be agile, multidisciplinary business advisors

What will an audit be like in 20 years’ time? More than ever it will include an assessment of how management takes decisions, of how data is managed and of business impact on a wide range of stakeholders.

ICAEW believes that “Ethics must lead the human aspect in business decisions and advice…”

Who else can the world turn to if not the auditors?


Jeff singer