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Audit and Artificial Intelligence

Wednesday 17 April 2019
by Alex Peal - Partner

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for some time and is becoming more advanced with every passing year.

We have all seen the articles and news reports on which parts of the accountancy profession may become redundant in the future and replaced by new systems, processes and ‘bots’; but have many of us stopped to think that AI could potentially be beneficial for the finance industry?

Depending on the business in question, the audit process is one which can be lengthy and complex. The audit team has a large amount of data to review and traditional audit techniques are based on a sampling approach which can mean that only a small portion of this data is actually checked. New AI and data analytics systems can help the audit team test a complete data set rather than reviewing smaller samples. Whilst the audit can still not detect every error there is a better chance of detecting fraud whilst also processing greater quantities of data at an increased rate.  The result is a higher quality audit.

A further benefit is by taking away a proportion of the administrative work, AI allows those in charge of the audit to spend more time interacting with the clients themselves. This could result in a better relationship between the accountancy firm and its clients and a better understanding of all the facets of a business for a smoother audit and better business advice.

While the concern of AI taking jobs away from an industry is quite real, the ICAEW reassures us that this won’t be the case anytime soon as many of these ‘bots’  are still in the trial and testing period,  such as the example they feature on  their website. Audit firms should consider these technological  advancements as an aid, rather than a hindrance and use them to ensure clients are getting best possible service.

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