When we have been unable to attend client premises, it has challenged not only our approach to testing but also how we can best modify our communication style and working environment to suit. This is all whilst not compromising on audit quality at a time where the audit sector has been under increased scrutiny.
Here at UHY Manchester we had already begun embracing changes in technology with more clients moving to cloud accounting and various teams working remotely. The pandemic however, as for most firms, has excelled the need for a more rapid change. Therefore, what we see today is firmly considered the “new normal”.
Historically, having the auditor on site was a rigid process (sometimes dreaded) where a team of auditors descend for a week or two armed with questions and requests to see all manner of documentation.
Although this may not be too far from the truth in our role of meeting statutory requirements, there is now much more flexibility, and we work closely with our clients to deliver efficiency on both sides, making it dare I say, pain free.
Some of the changes we have made are:
- Carrying out virtual site visits for inventory counts and existence testing
- Organising site visits on a hybrid basis
- Providing staff with dual screen facilities for a better remote working set up
- Investing in data sharing platforms allowing information to be passed between client and audit team smoothly
- Embracing virtual meetings within audit teams offering increased peer support to our trainee accountants
From the above-mentioned, the biggest challenge has been to reinforce to clients that as your auditor, we do in fact still have personality, and although virtual working leads to efficiencies, the bigger picture is to build strong relationships to understand client’s businesses and help as we look forward to a hopefully pandemic free future together.