Interview

16 April 2019

Digitalisation: auditing more than financial data

“In my experience, 80% of the time accountants and auditors tend to only talk about financial data. They’re not linking with additional information that’s important to companies,” observes Wesley Schulte from Finext, a Netherlands-based consultancy.

“Many companies today already report on more than just financial data. So, accountants must also start talking about more than financial results. Include assessments of human resources or environmental impact to create audits that are of value for a company,” he urges.

Regulatory constraints

In Wesley’s view, it’s also a wider question of regulation, not only a need for better focus on evolving client needs. “Although there are auditors who are currently going a step further in the services they provide, the profession is focused on rules and compliance. Currently, it is over-regulated.”

However, he has a positive prediction about future regulatory trends: “10 years from now, I think the regulation will be broader than only financial, so audit firms will have a bit more space to build more and better advisory services as well.”

Back to school

Wesley also sees a change in the focus of education as part of the solution: “Currently, professional education is all about getting the financial numbers right and all the boxes ticked. It needs to immediately shift focus to also looking properly at the other capitals that help create value for a company. These need to be audited too.”

A more process-based approach

It’s clear that digital technology can help companies along with accountants and auditors to quickly form a clear picture of data – both financial and non-financial.

That said, tomorrow’s successful accountants and auditors will also need more knowledge of the systems that their clients use. In Wesley’s view: “I believe accountants and auditors tend to see technology for performance management and accounting systems as a ‘black box’. So, they’re only looking at the inputs and outputs. We also have to focus on the process part – the rules in the system – as well as the inputs and outputs to add value. For example, by looking at whether there is a good audit trail in place and a good work flow.”

Hitting the spot?

Wesley believes that auditors and accountants have an opportunity to overcome the status quo to fully meet the fast-evolving, technology-driven client needs that go beyond traditional financial data.

He’s confident that new opportunities are coming: “Accountants need to give their opinion as a professional, aware, informed and reporting information from the client’s perspective.”

Related content

UpdateTechnology

29 March 2019

InterviewDigitalisation: reporting is an art, not a science

22 January 2019

InterviewDigitalisation – Caretaker & developer: the new accountant

14 December 2018

InterviewDigitalisation: let empathy and trust rule

26 November 2018

InterviewDigitalisation: don’t fight the change

26 October 2018

InterviewStop the busy work and go digital

19 September 2018

InterviewDigital companies need better and faster financial advice

19 September 2018

NewsDigital Day – What was it all about?

19 September 2018

Stories from practiceInsights from SME accountants: how to keep bringing value to small businesses

6 July 2022

EventESEF in practice 3: sustainability

30 May 2022

Consultation responseEC’s consultation on VAT in the digital age

30 March 2022

NewsWar in Ukraine – responses from the accountancy profession

9 March 2022

Consultation responseIASB’s Exposure Draft on Disclosure Requirements: A Pilot Approach and EFRAG’s draft comment letter thereon

17 December 2021

EventESEF in Practice – 2

15 November 2021

PublicationSMEs’ digital future

13 September 2021

Consultation responseIASB’s third agenda consultation, EFRAG’s draft comment letter and own proactive research agenda consultation

13 July 2021

EventESEF in Practice

7 July 2021

Consultation responseEC’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive proposal – feedback statement

1 July 2021

EventRoad to digital: How to support SMEs

16 June 2021

Stories from PracticeDigitalising the accountancy profession: what role for young professionals?

31 May 2021

PublicationAccountants – REACT now and help SMEs adapt to new VAT e-commerce rules

6 May 2021

In the mediaAccountancy Europe: Future-proofing tax to make it green, digital and fair

26 April 2021

NewsNew directive takes EU corporate sustainability reporting to the next level

21 April 2021

EventFuture-proofing tax: make it green, digital, fair

15 April 2021

PublicationRoad to digital: what are the obstacles for SMEs and SMPs?

8 April 2021

EventIFAC PAO digital readiness assessment tool

25 March 2021

NewsSMEs count on us

11 March 2021

Consultation responseEC’s Consultation on a European Single Access Point (ESAP) for financial and non-financial information

8 March 2021

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required
Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?
On which topics would you like to receive news?