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Tax & AccountingMarch 01, 2022

How Will the Top Audit Trends of 2022 Affect Your Firm?

By: Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting

Colleen Knuff, VP of Product Management for Audit at Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting North America, sat down with Accounting Today's Editor-in-Chief Dan Hood in December of 2021 to talk about the top accounting industry and technology trends impacting audit and accounting professionals.

Read on for highlights from their discussion, including ways the data-driven audit can transform how auditors visualize results and how emerging technologies can work for firms.

What Are Some of The Big Trends You See Affecting the Accounting Industry in 2022?

When I think about trends in the industry, I tend to think under three umbrellas – people, processes, and technologies.

Under the technology umbrella, one of the biggest trends is harnessing emerging technologies to work for us. A few years ago, there was concern that emerging technologies and bots would take our jobs. Over time, though, we've learned that's anything but true. To help us get the work accomplished, we need to harness these technologies, which is quite a change in perspective in a relatively short period of time.

Robotics, process automation and those bots we were all so concerned about are being harnessed to automate some of the routine and more mundane aspects of our everyday life. But what happens if we take that a step further – a step deeper – and start looking at APIs and API frameworks? Just imagine the power that firms could experience by going beyond integration when they harness the power of APIs to create that interconnected ecosystem.

And what about even more advanced technologies like blockchain? Everyone is still wondering what blockchain can do for us. But in many cases, blockchain can be that mechanism in the background that helps ensure the data we request and receive is secure and immutable – like how we leverage blockchain in CCHTM Axcess Validate.

Editor's note: Wolters Kluwer's CCH Axcess Validate was named as one of Accounting Today's Top New Products of 2022.

The most important part about emerging technology is how we can use those advanced technologies to handle the high volume, high transaction work that we have in our workflows. Things such as auditor bank confirmations that are done in every single audit. Is there a way to get emerging technologies to do that on our behalf?

Under the people umbrella, staffing shortages stands out. Every firm is experiencing a staffing issue in some way, shape, or form. This could be through the great resignation and switching to another firm, or through people leaving public accounting and choosing to pursue something else. People aren't necessarily thinking about how this systemic issue starts with students coming up through universities and colleges. Enrollment in accounting programs is down.

Straddling all three umbrellas – people, processes, and technologies – is that some firms are struggling to articulate their plans for the cloud. For many firms, this was necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that they are considering how to support a hybrid workflow long-term, they aren't sure where to go from here.

What's Exciting About the Field of Audit Today?

I'm so excited about so much that's happening in audit today! First, there's so much opportunity for us to continue to grow, whether bringing emerging technologies into workflows, or through better use of data analytics.

When I started my career, data analytics was the thing that we talked about, but you almost needed an advanced degree in data science to perform it. And that's not true anymore – many of the data analytics tools in the market are much more intuitive to use. We tend to see junior staff coming out of college and university programs more familiar with them, reducing the need for training.

Data analytics is key to the data-driven approach, and I believe that's probably the next exciting frontier on this. The data-driven approach isn't just about the data. It's about leveraging data analytics throughout the entire audit process. It's about how we leverage the data that we create in the process of performing audits. It's about how we can visualize that data to have a better sense of how risk connects to procedures and whether we're over or under auditing. It's about seeing those relationships, not just in an index file, but visually and on screen. Those are the exciting things that we will start to see happen as audit continues to progress and unfold.

Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting

Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting is a leading provider of software solutions and expertise that helps tax, accounting and audit professionals research and navigate complex regulations, comply with legislation, manage their businesses and advise clients with speed and accuracy.

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