Are You Making Time For A Profitable Audit Practice?

Time is money, especially when it comes to audits

Here we are in the middle of yet another tax season. Your compliance work is moving fast and furious.  Individual tax returns and audit projects are jamming inbound folders.  However, if you’re like many professionals, there’s a growing sense of change that’s hard to put your finger on. Perhaps you’ve lost a few of your more lucrative clients. Or maybe you find yourself fighting more vigorously for jobs that you really won’t make much profit on. What’s happening?  It wasn’t always like this.

Where will the fees of tomorrow be made?

The future has arrived in the tax and accounting world. However, some of the largest scale change is yet to come. This change will not just appear in the form of new types of technologies, but will also take form in newer, fee-rich services provided by professionals.  Take a recent study from Accounting Today, which illustrated the types of work that professionals are currently doing, versus the types of work set to yield the most growth in the future:

Ignore the numbers at your own peril

For firm leadership set on conducting “hand to hand” combat in the crowded compliance space, these numbers might trouble you. And they should! But for professionals refusing to go quietly in the night, there’s hope for the future. This hope resides in the area of advisory and management work.  This news is particularly good for business and audit specialty firms, as many of your more complex clients will be prime candidates for these service areas.

Being where you need to be at the right time

So now that you have a snapshot of the present, as well as a picture of the future, how does one take advantage of the coming advisory/management service wave?  After all, for a firm that is barely keeping pace with it’s current work load this may seem impossible. However, the answer is found in saving TIME within existing audit jobs; time that can then be directed toward the more profitable service areas of the future. The first step toward maximizing time is identifying the areas where staff waste the most time. One need go no further than the typical audit engagement to find examples of time inefficiencies and labor cost over-runs.

Much of audit work is timely admin functions

For firms performing audits using more manual means, consider the front end work that consists of collecting, formatting, organizing and analyzing client data.  The hours of time spent in just these four areas alone account for a massive amount of staff hours. For most, this would seem a work process inevitability; a ritual performed before diving into the actual audit analysis itself.  Fortunately, thanks to new audit technology, these time absorbing steps need not take the time and effort it once did.

Exhibit A- EOS Accountants LLP

There is probably no better example of an audit efficiency victory than the case of  EOS Accountants LLP of Hackensack, NJ.  This multi-office tax and audit firm found audit preparations were taking excessive time in the areas of data prep and analysis. In fact these areas requiring excess time, were keeping staff from performing more profitable client functions. Muhammad Hussain, Senior Audit Manager, explains, “When it comes to audit preparation, with regard to receiving data, it has always been difficult and time consuming to gather it all, and get it into a format ready for testing.

Once it was determined that technology, not additional staff, was the answer to addressing these inefficient audit areas, EOS acted accordingly. By deploying technology that automated engagements, and analyzed audit data thoroughly, the firm realized massive time savings. Hussain continues, “Adding the CCH® Audit Accelerator and TeamMate® Analytics solutions to our audit workflows has changed our world, though.  What use to take as much as 180 hours in years past now takes as little as 1 hour.  That is an amazing amount of time saved.”

What could you do with an extra 179 hours!?  What new consulting services might come from being able to take deeper dives into each audit job or tax return?

Time saved=More clients and/or higher valued services

Now that EOS has solved the problem of time wasting audit activities, they are now focusing on new client service opportunities. Muhammad Hussain confirms, “With the time saved, our auditors can now deliver deeper insights to the client, thus enhancing the client’s experience.” And not only is the client experience improving, but the volume of their audit work is increasing. In fact, Hussain’s ambition is evident, “We are looking forward to moving toward “continuous auditing” throughout the entire year.”

How much time can you save on your audits?

Is your firm doing all it can do to free up time for the higher valued services of today and the future?  If not, consider exploring the newest ways to reclaim your most precious resource. To learn more about the time saving technologies discussed in this blog, download our Ebook Audit Analytics Technology: Can Your Business Afford to Ignore These Tools? 



Brandon Sims

All stories by: Brandon Sims