Taking an open and collaborative approach is part of the DNA of AuditFutures and could offer the audit profession a new way and new resources for rethinking its future. It may be particularly relevant against the backdrop of recent public scrutiny and reviews into reforming the audit market and some of the technology-driven developments that are reshaping the practice of audit.
Open and collaborative approaches to innovation have grown in popularity across many sectors in recent decades, but some sectors and organisations still favour the more traditional strategy of innovating and then building barriers to entry. In the world of audit, the open and collaborative method may not seem like a good fit for the hierarchical pyramid structure of professional services firms; but it still has much to offer the profession.
Our online resources hub (www.AuditFutures.net/manifesto-resources).considers ways in which networks of professional firms can benefit from working together; aspects of the ‘professional practice’ of audit and how to enhance these; what may be achieved by building precompetitive spaces for learning, deliberation and innovation; and the role of professional bodies in fostering collaborative and learning communities for the professional practice of audit.
AuditFutures has learnt from its research projects and workstreams in these areas. Renewed attention on improving audit quality and fostering market competition offers fresh opportunities for audit firms to show leadership and learn from each other, and AuditFutures’ technical and practical workshops have highlighted many areas where innovation is needed.
The essay Open innovation in audit (www.AuditFutures.net/manifesto-resources) offers pointers on how the audit profession can learn from the tech sector, which has clearly demonstrated the benefits of being open and collaborative. It also shares some mechanisms the audit profession could use to collaborate in areas such as audit data standards, technology innovation and adoption.
AuditFutures believes that a modern audit profession should facilitate learning between firms and create precompetitive spaces that advance its social and economic roles. Audit firms need to collaborate in practice areas where all firms could perform better. The value of ‘collaborative communities of practice’ has already been demonstrated by practitioners in various professions and specialisms.
Fostering a collaborative innovation community (www.AuditFutures.net/manifesto-resources) picks up this theme. It argues the need to focus on culture and interrogate intrinsic values and institutional foundations that make up audit practice, to build capabilities and conditions that are needed for innovation and improvement. It also explores the threats and opportunities associated with digital technologies.
AuditFutures’ discussions with more than 20 audit firms have considered the rise of automation, existing investments in tech, and potential implications of existing and future adoption for professional ethics and skills, firm structures and services, innovation and competition, knowledge sharing and transfer and how all of these might best be managed.
Many firms with audit practices have active innovation and technology teams. AuditFutures has established that some of them are willing and able to move forward with collaborations that could help to improve audit, demonstrate a commitment to improvement and reshape perceptions of the sector, by sharing positive narratives rather than reinforcing negative ones.
We hosted a symposium for audit firms to explore areas where we should be collaborating betterRead more
In a series of blogs, we are exploring new ways to think about competition, collaboration and innovation in the context of regulated markets and professional services.Read more