Opportunities for the audit profession
The change brought about by the digital and technological revolution continues at pace and companies have to respond to the challenges that this presents. In our own company, which operates in the professional services sector, this transformation has already begun – we are witnessing a high demand for specialist skills in fields of technology such as Big Data, Business Intelligence and Blockchain. And this technological transformation is happening now in the audit departments of large firms.
Information is fuelling the 21st century; however, information that lacks credibility is of no use whatsoever. This means that trusted and reliable information and increased transparency have become even more importance. Today’s auditors are qualified and well placed to meet this challenge.
The future for audit and consulting firms
In spite of the technological revolution, businesses are still being managed by people. Business leaders and stakeholders need our services, our professional judgement and our advice. As auditors, we are perfectly placed because we understand their businesses and how they work. So rather than consolidating our existing services, we will probably expand into other areas of client needs. But we must make the necessary preparations.
Moreover, the methodology that we employ to draw conclusions about a business derives from the sampling system that we used for large-scale data analysis until recently. This not only helps us to verify financial and non-financial information, but also to identify and mitigate business risks while assisting growing businesses with their financial and operational restructuring. Our services are adding more value than ever.
How can small businesses adapt to these challenges?
Our industry has witnessed more changes during the last ten years than during the previous thirty years. This means that we cannot afford to be complacent and rely on a reputation established during previous decades as it does not count for much in the new world. During the coming decades, our businesses will have to adapt to even more changes; we will have to undertake continuing professional development in order to remain competitive.
Today’s businesses are more complex and the legislation is far wider. As we cannot be specialists in everything, there is a need for multidisciplinary teams comprising professionals with expertise in specific areas. This provides opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to cooperate with others. Clients are also very astute and value the honesty and humility of a small business. We may not be able to solve all their problems, but we can provide solutions on the basis of cooperation.
Small businesses must focus on their service provision
Rather than focusing on market challenges and opportunities, it is vital that small and medium-sized enterprises focus on the service they provide and make it relevant to clients. The benefits of a smaller boutique range of specialised services are attractive. This, together with the in-depth knowledge of the local markets, the agility which enables a small business to respond to the demands of constantly changing markets and the personalised service that small businesses find it easier to provide, makes for a compelling proposition.
We now need to become more than auditors; we must become our clients’ trusted advisers. This means working with business leaders to help anticipate and adapt to what is happening rather than auditing what hasalready occurred.
About the author
Ricardo is the managing partner of the member firm of Russell Bedford in Barcelona, GNL Russell Bedford. He is also a member of the International Board of Directors of Russell Bedford, representing the EMEA region.
Ricardo is a member of the Official Register of Auditors (ROAC).firstname.lastname@example.org