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Diving into Busy Season | Interview with an Audit Expert | Edwin

January 9, 2024

Hi, Edwin. First things first, can you tell us what “The Busy Season” is?

The busy season refers to the domino effect where the teams have to deliver numerous engagements with strict deadlines, and if one supporting document arrives late, it piles up and causes further delays and longer working hours for the auditors to try and keep everything in order within the chaos. 

While the preparations for the busy season in most firms start before the financial year-end, many tasks require the books to be closed, and if the clients do not provide the data on time, the auditors’ work accumulates as time goes on.

Looking back on your audit career, what would you say was the most rewarding aspect of navigating the Busy Season? 

My best memories are always related to working shoulder to shoulder with the team. We often had late night dinners in the office together and that brought a feeling of belonging and togetherness. 

We also got to know each other on a deeper level regardless of experience or role. I remember during a countryside engagement, after a very, very long day we jumped into a jacuzzi together and kicked back and relaxed. 

And what are some of the biggest the challenges you faced?

The biggest challenge is always time. Auditors have to squeeze in work that needs to be done and our personal life suffers. We have to neglect friends, push back house work, and things like that – after all, a day is still only 24 hours.

That being said, at the end of every engagement, we always celebrated the success of releasing the report and these were some of the most satisfying moments of my career. 

A lack of time or spending too much time on specific tasks or engagements is a challenge that auditors still face today; what is the best way found to overcome this?

Yes, the time pressure is definitely still there. It’s even made worse by the ever increasing regulatory requirements. In my opinion, the answer is lies in innovation in the form of technology.

There is a huge need for innovation to eliminate as much grunt work as possible so auditors can focus on what’s really important; the analysis of changes and risky areas. 

The automation of repetitive, monotonous tasks could bring an ease to this pressure, and the team could pay more attention to the outliers; to the exceptions.

Are there any challenges that come with adopting new solutions? And how are these overcome?

There are two main challenges that could arise: one is the resistance to change, and the other is the usual, the lack of time allocated. 

The longer an auditor stays with a firm, the more they rely on their own “best practices”. And, with that, they consider anything new to be more time-consuming than beneficial to learn. 

Also, firms can sometimes underestimate the time needed to train the staff to use a new tool or solution. With the added time pressure, the engagement teams will either be reluctant to use new features, or will not have enough capacity to fully take advantage of, or even understand, its benefits. 

To overcome these challenges firms should put more focus on the follow-up of the actual tool usages. They should collect and share success stories and best practices, and build up their own internal knowledge base. 

And finally, in a sector that's increasingly embracing technology, how do you see the balance between human judgment and tech platforms evolving?

In the future there will be more IT audits as a result of automation and the increasing volume of transactions. However, the ultimate judgment will always be made by a human. As even if they come up with a groundbreaking Intelligent Automation audit software, that system would still need to be audited.

In conclusion, auditors are going nowhere!

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