Technology Leading Audit Profession Evolution: KPMG/Forbes Insights Survey

Jul 27, 2015, 10:30 ET from KPMG LLP

NEW YORK, July 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Ninety three percent of U.S. executives, board members and academics say the external corporate financial audit needs to evolve, with a majority (58 percent) indicating technology is the force that will transform the profession, according to a new survey from KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm, in association with Forbes Insights.

In addition to providing deeper insights, a third of respondents believe that auditors should go beyond certifying numbers, and 59 percent think that while the auditor role should stay the same, how the role is performed should evolve.

"As companies embrace data and analytics in their financial reporting and growth strategies, the types of controls and risk assessment needed are evolving," said Scott Marcello, KPMG's vice chair of Audit. "This is just one example of how technology and digitization are impacting our role as auditors. The audit profession is already changing to meet this new landscape."

"Audit 2020: A Focus on Change" points to the innovations underway in the audit profession due to the explosion of available data and the advent of more powerful capabilities to analyze it. For auditor associates, the top-ranked benefit of technology is that it provides tools for more sophisticated analysis (80 percent), while survey respondents overall value most highly the efficiency technology can bring (59 percent). Significantly, the application of data and analytics capabilities is expected to represent a major step forward in terms of the quality and insight obtained in the audit.

"These findings underscore the growing importance of innovation in our profession," said Marcello, noting the ultimate goal of audit quality. "The power of technology and digitization in the audit arises from more effective risk assessment and enhanced quality for stakeholders—by empowering a robust understanding of an organization's operational concerns, control environment and financial performance."

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Culture (66 percent) and the regulatory environment (59 percent) are seen as the biggest challenges to enhancing the role of the audit. These two factors are intertwined, as the intense regulation of the audit leads to a highly structured, process-oriented working environment, which can create resistance to change.
  • A more proactive attitude is the key characteristic crucial for the auditor of the future. That enhanced level of proactivity is required in providing deeper insights (50 percent), quality (48 percent) and value (41 percent).
  • An increase in the profession's status (60 percent) is the most important way for audit to evolve, according to associate auditors and accounting students. Audit should be perceived as a profession, not a job, and career tracks should be more rewarding.
  • A trio of skills are essential for future auditors: experience in the client's industry (52 percent), investigative financial skills (52 percent), and critical thinking (42 percent). Underlying these is the need for adaptability, which is indispensable in a profession based on learning and change.

About this report
"Audit 2020: A Focus on Change" is based on a survey of 151 U.S. respondents in December 2014 (13 audit committee chairs and members, 22 CEOs, 15 CFOs, 20 other C-level executives and controllers, 30 directors of financial reporting, 21 investors, 26 audit associates, two current accounting students and two audit professors). Forbes Insights also conducted in-depth interviews with senior executives, academics and other experts to add context.

KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (, is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"). KPMG International's member firms have 162,000 professionals, including more than 9,000 partners, in 155 countries.

About Forbes Insights
Forbes Insights is the strategic research and thought leadership practice of Forbes Media, publisher of Forbes magazine and, whose combined media properties reach nearly 75 million business decision makers worldwide on a monthly basis.


William Ferguson