Accounting & Auditing Company news South Africa

Navigating emerging technologies in the audit profession

While many audit tools and methods have evolved over time, the practice of audit has been in existence for years. But how do we as auditors stay ahead of the curve of emerging technologies?
Naledi Matlala, SAICA Project Manager: Assurance
Naledi Matlala, SAICA Project Manager: Assurance

As audit professionals, we often find ourselves facing unique challenges ranging from misalignment with auditees to insufficient identification of changing risk areas with technological advances and keeping pace with emerging technologies while ensuring the integrity of financial information.

To curve these challenges and demands of being an auditor, we have to learn to put in place and embrace best practices that will assist in navigating the complexities of digital audit. Moreover, emerging technology has the potential to increase audit quality while adding value for our stakeholders.

To serve organisations well and conduct high-quality audits, the auditor of the future needs to be digitally adept, and this can be achieved through the adoption of some of the best practices.

Best practices

Some of the best practices that can be adopted to enable us to provide value to our stakeholders are the following:

  • Investing in continuous learning, such as attending training programmes, seminars and webinars that focus on emerging technologies, regulatory and industry changes, can be valuable. Technology is quickly evolving, and the real-time economy is transforming how data is received and processed.
  • Therefore, an auditor can also obtain relevant certification in artificial intelligence, which can be instrumental in enhancing expertise in auditing and emerging technologies.
  • Being proactive in learning to gain a better understanding of the purpose, scope and potential risk of emerging technologies through reading media articles, newsletters and other technical material.
  • Performing a comprehensive risk assessment throughout the audit is crucial to identify potential threats to emerging technologies, taking into account data privacy and compliance with laws and regulations. It also ensures that the right resources are allocated to ensure focus is placed on significant areas based on the risk assessment procedures performed.
  • Incorporating specialised technical expertise and leveraging IT tools to enhance audit procedures and address risks associated with technology is an indication of an evolving audit approach and auditors should look into that. This also ensures efficiency in the audit and allows auditors to remain relevant in this digital era.
  • The auditor of the future should consider collaborating with IT professionals, data analysts, and artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) experts, which can be very valuable for the audit. It opens opportunities for auditors to gain an understanding of the technology utilised by audit clients, properly evaluate the risk, conduct effective data analysis, and evaluate and assess the reliability of AI systems.
  • Maintaining professional scepticism is paramount. We are to critically evaluate evidence, assess the reliability of data and apply professional judgement to identify any inconsistencies. This also assists in being proactive through addressing potential fraud risks in the digital audit world by implementing robust controls and monitoring systems.

About Naledi Matlala

Naledi Matlala, SAICA Project Manager: Assurance
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