The Power of the Integrated Audit Approach

Ever since the auditing standards were updated to the current risk assessment framework, performing a quality audit has become increasingly challenging.  Our time to complete an audit in line with professional standards has greatly risen but the perceived value by the customer has remained the same.  In addition, our industry is seeing record high struggles in attracting, retaining, and engaging top talent. These issues combine with difficulties firms have leveraging technology currently in the market today and the lingering concern how artificial intelligence and data analytics are going to be integrated into how firms operate. As a result, our profession has to address an increasing array of struggles. Recently I sat down for a virtual chat with industry thought leader Brian Siet for a webinar on Accounting Today. We discussed 5 tips to drive more value from your engagements.

Before we address this issue at the micro level, I’ll take a step back and focus on the macro level.  Two of the biggest factors impacting accounting firms across the country are first, weakness with technology.  Firms are falling further behind in their efforts to use the technology they have. Also, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics are expanding at rapid rates.  The second major issue is talent. We need highly quality individuals to continue to exist, not just as firms, but as a profession.

At Thaney & Associates we have been addressing these issues to drive more value from our engagements by leveraging technology which has allowed us to better attract, retain, and engage top talent.

Pay attention to the value gap

When it comes to technology, Brian and I will often discuss the value gap at firms.  Firms create the value gap when they do not have strong technology solutions and do not use the solutions they have. This causes a growing loss in the value of their firm.  One thing we see in the value gap is that partners will rate technology at the firm as outstanding. However, the emerging leaders and millennials view the firm’s technology as inadequate.

Firms need to take an honest look at their technology solutions currently in place to accomplish engagements.  We need technology to not only be efficient, but also to allow us to evolve and move past being technicians. As Brian mentioned during the webinar, technology is  a major focal point when it comes to driving value in engagements. CCH Prosystem fx Engagement is the cornerstone technology solution. Additional technology tools like CCH ProSystem fx Knowledge Coach allow your staff to truly excel at the next level.

Leverage technology to keep staff happy

The second issue firms need to address is talent. We see top talent leaving firms to focus on doing more advisory and value added work.  By successfully leveraging technology, our firm was able to increase job efficiency and effectiveness. We were then able to use the time savings to focus on driving added value into our engagements.  We created amazing success by harnessing the power of technology. This provided time savings for our people to perform more value added services.

As Brian and I discussed, we obtained a 30-40% increase in efficiency on engagements by combining technology with a focus on constant improvements. We challenged the testing and thought about how our procedures and workpapers add value to the audit.  As we move forward in our profession, we always need to think about how to add value to our clients through the work performed. There are two new technology solutions from Wolters Kluwer that are essential to take firms to the next level.

New tools elevate your firm’s current engagements

In the webinar, I mentioned two new technologies I am really excited about: CCH Audit Accelerator and TeamMate Analytics.  These programs are two of the biggest steps forward in technology I have seen in a long time.  Both of these play a major role in elevating your firm’s current engagements.

CCH Audit Accelerator does what no other product on the market today currently does.  It allows you to obtain client data, validate it, and pull out the data needed to look at the big picture of the audit and automatically transforms the data into consistent reports allowing for greater flexibility in using the data. CCH Audit Accelerator also allows the firm to have a consistent user interface no matter what accounting software your client uses.  This results in a major time savings for the firm by removing the initial roadblock employees face and helps firms better manage the front door as Brian would say.

TeamMate Analytics allows firms to finally embrace and leverage analytical testing and analysis as never done before.  Right now analytics can be a scary thing. However, TeamMate Analytics gives auditors the full power of AI, allowing firms to set up templates and defaults to customize and tie everything together.

Drive growth opportunities through advisory services

This summer, the major focus at your firm needs to be on driving growth opportunities through advisory services and adding more value from your engagements by leveraging the technology solutions you have, allowing you to engage your top talent.  The technology exists in the marketplace today to drastically change how we perform our engagements to drive success.  As always, if you aren’t sure where to start, reply in the comments below and I will contact you.  The tools and solutions are here to elevate your firm, don’t hold back.

AUTHOR

Garrett Wagner

As a business therapist at Thaney & Associates and CEO of C3 Evolution Group, Garrett Wagner CPA/CITP escorts firm leadership through succession planning, the technology evolution, and millennial talent development. Through his monitoring and use of evolving technologies and industry best practices, he brings “outside of the box” thinking, refined procedures, and awareness of traditional methods, with an eye on the future. Garrett’s succession planning process is a success factor on the road to reaching your lifetime professional goals of growth and profitability. His background leads partners to develop a plan, in a time when firm retirements are at a historic rate. Through his personal experience with technology, Garrett delivers ROI to firms. He will escort you through the identification of unique needs, choices in the digital market today, and best practices to maximize its use within the firm, removing the struggle to keep up while realizing its rewards and benefits. Also, talent needs to be developed from the moment of firm connection. Garrett’s leadership training curriculum focuses on enhancing emotional intelligence skills. He will work with the senior team to groom their understanding of millennial CPAs, keys to motivating these teammates and proven methods to actively engage them within the firm, halting near-term brain drain. Through succession planning, technology and millennial talent development, increases will be realized in work efficiency, work quality, and employee satisfaction, while training tomorrow’s leaders, as today’s leaders move on in their life’s journey.

All stories by: Garrett Wagner

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