A major international research report opens the door to constructive debate on the future of audit.

Associate Professor Bryan Howieson of Adelaide Business School has co-authored a valuable international research report examining the attributes, competencies, professional skills and qualities required in modern audit teams to perform high quality public interest audits, and how they will meet future demands.

The Capability and Competency Requirements of Auditors in Today’s Complex Global Business Environment, published by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), will have far reaching impact on audits of the future, highlighting that while audit teams may have the skill-sets to meet today’s requirements, changes are needed to meet future audit demands.  The report has significant Auditinternational impact on the auditing profession, highlighting the need for open and constructive debate on the future of audit and the skills and competencies required to ensure its ongoing success.

The report followed a comprehensive three-year international study, commencing in 2013, on behalf of ICAS and the UK Financial Reporting Council. Together with his colleagues from Scotland and South Africa, Associate Professor Howieson explored key audit stakeholder views in six of the largest companies in Australia, South Africa and the UK. A total of 84 interviews were conducted with professionals directly involved in audit (from engagement partners, chairs of audit committees and chief financial officers, to chief internal audit executives and experts) as well as those with oversight, public policy or educative audit roles.

Anton Colella, ICAS CEO, comments, “Knowing what the capabilities and competencies auditors will need in an uncertain future is difficult, but if we do not start that debate now, how will the profession keep pace with changing expectations and evolve to meet the needs of stakeholders and society?”

Other significant findings showed an increasing need in audit teams for people with more diverse backgrounds and a greater focus on developing mid-career professionals because, with the exception of financial services, specialising in audit too early can sacrifice the breadth of experience. It is clear that specialists should be recruited and then trained in audit to be an effective part of an audit team. Importantly, it was shown that competency maps and frameworks, and CPD offerings should be adapted to develop specialist data interrogation and analytical skills, as well as broad business acumen and forensic skills.

Stephen Haddrill, FRC Chief Executive, added, “As we implement significant changes in audit regulation, we hope that the research results will lead to a constructive debate on the future of audit and the competencies which will be required in order to meet that vision to deliver high quality audit and profession-led innovation in the UK.”

The ABS is proud to have been part of such a significant and far reaching body of research that will positively impact the auditing profession, encouraging ongoing discussions, and helping the profession to keep pace with future global business demands.

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