As baby boomers retire and millennials rise through the ranks, firms need create a culture that will attract and retain top talent. Firms have a hard time maintaining adequate staffing due to the audit staffing shortage reported across the profession. Fewer good candidates vie for the same position. In addition, existing staff see more incentives to switch firms. A recent whitepaper, “Linking Talent to Technology” looks at audit technology in particular as one tool firms can use to not only improve audit quality, but to also increase staff engagement and improve recruitment and retention efforts.
The consequences of the status quo
The whitepaper discusses the possible consequences of not evaluating audit processes regularly:
- Making your firm appear stagnant. The failure to keep up with technology and development of new and better ways to accomplish tasks, especially mundane ones, can be a negative signal to current and potential staff. The perception becomes that the firm is stagnant and unwilling to adopt change.
- Turning off staff members. Today’s talent look for opportunities to be creative and will avoid doing routine or mundane tasks.
- Reducing audit quality, which frustrates staff. New audit staff members who spend the majority of their time simply relying on last year’s workpapers for guidance — i.e. the same as last year (SALY) approach — and completing checklists, will eventually look elsewhere for more challenging and engaging work.
- Lack of standardization and reduced efficiency. Standardization of processes yields efficiency, and technology is often the most important ingredient to effective standardization.
- Alienating younger staff who want to get involved in higher-level work. Even the youngest staff members want an opportunity to think and contribute. Advanced solutions like Wolters Kluwer’s Integrated Audit Approach automate the kinds of mundane tasks traditionally left to low-level staff, freeing them up to learn and start contributing earlier in their development.
How technology can help
In the whitepaper, Jacqueline Lee, Principal at Mengel Metzger Barr & Co. shares her firm’s reasoning for constantly re-vamping its audit processes. “Staff members are not interested in being a button pusher. They want to think. They want a challenge. If they’re doing the same mundane tasks over and over again, that can get boring. They want more interaction with clients, especially the newer staff coming out of school… Letting the technology take care of mundane tasks allows all of our staff to focus on actual work.”
Finally, technology can help firms deal with an audit staffing shortage. As a result, Mengel Metzer Barr & Co. adopted Wolters Kluwer’s Integrated Audit Approach, which involves everyone in the planning process, allows younger staff to see connections between assertions and risks, and lets all staff members spend time on high-value, consultative tasks. For a more in-depth look at their process, download the whitepaper, “Linking Talent to Technology.”