Banner image for Scaling New Heights 2024, the premier accounting technology conference in the United States. The image features the conference theme and dates.

What Can AI Do for Auditors?

Maanoj Shah
Posted by Maanoj Shah on May 14, 2024 5:58:51 AM

Auditing comes with its fair share of surprising challenges. In accounting and finance, auditing is a relatively complex subject. Not all accounting professionals can be auditors. Being an auditor requires specialized knowledge and the latest skills. However, there is a solution—assisted decision-making. Recently, artificial intelligence (AI) in auditing has grown more popular. Many manual operations like data input, analysis, and reporting are now automated by AI. This helps boost quality and productivity while cutting expenses.

Auditing is a critical process that requires transparency, accuracy, and compliance. Auditors have long relied on manual processes to sift through vast amounts of data, which is time-consuming and labor-intensive. AI’s impact on the auditing profession has caused a massive transformation.

How is AI changing the way auditors work?

AI has been playing a massive role across all industries. Like other businesses, AI is helping automate, accelerate, and enhance business processes. It helps transform at scale and drive value. AI will continue to help firms better identify high-risk transactions, allowing us to sustain our focus on risk assessment and obtain audit evidence. It will also help remove time-consuming tasks and make room to apply valuable skills in other areas that help enhance the audit experience.

Benefits of AI in auditing

1. Better effectiveness in the services provided

One of the major reasons AI is being integrated into the audit business is that it helps teams become more efficient and effective. Tasks such as data entry and analysis can now be automated by artificial intelligence. This allows auditors to do a better job and at a faster rate. Being able to do these repetitive tasks quickly allows them to concentrate on activities that are more complicated and necessary for the business.

2. Better audit quality

Precision is key in the field of auditing. AI can help improve the quality of audits by lowering the chances of errors and overlooking. Artificial intelligence can help evaluate massive volumes of data correctly, which can be used to foresee problems that might arise. It can also help with damage control before things get out of hand, which can help determine where to allocate more resources, new technology, extensive testing, etc. This can also help reduce the chances of serious misstatements being overlooked.

3. Better analytics

AI can offer improved analytical capabilities that allow auditors to see recurring trends and patterns, which are often challenging to spot manually. Artificial intelligence can help examine historical financial data that might be instrumental in detecting frauds and other financial misdemeanors. AI also helps collate a vast amount of data quickly, allowing auditors to access this information easily when needed. Analyzing data manually can be a tiring, long-drawn process.

4. Reduction of costs

While the execution of artificial intelligence into the audit system might need capital investment and some time for the team to learn, it prevents the ongoing auditing costs once they are accustomed to the new software and tools. Automating the audit processes shortens the overall time needed to finish an audit accurately. This, in turn, helps save on resources and the time lost.

5. Better risk assessment

Artificial intelligence is trained to use a vast amount of data to analyze an organization's current status. AI helps firms assess the risk associated with the current numbers. It can help analyze the areas that need improvement and where the company has been performing better already. It can also enable the stakeholders to assess the strategies and measures they need to adapt to the constantly evolving landscape.

Risks associated with artificial intelligence for auditors

1. Ethical issues

While the absence of manual operations is great for most functions, employing AI for auditing roles presents ethical issues you must face. For example, some auditors might manipulate data or information, which can inject biases into the system. While replacing AI with human tasks can be a great alternative for businesses, it can also cause job losses.

2. Data security

Data security concerns continue to pose severe threats across all levels. In a critical field like auditing, this concern raises many eyebrows. AI deals with a lot of data, mostly personal and critical financial information. A data breach can impact the business as well as the clients. With the rise of hacking and phishing, AI can become easily accessible to hackers, destroying a firm’s goodwill and reputation.

3. Lack of transparency

In today’s digital world, transparency plays a key role. However, using artificial intelligence in auditing can threaten the goal of remaining transparent. Auditors may find it challenging to comprehend and explain their judgments and decisions based on AI, mainly because the AI algorithms are very complex and difficult. The problem arises when these judgments are incorrect. While spotting biases and inaccuracies is extremely difficult, when spotted, they can jeopardize the auditors' position.

4. Lack of human control

While AI is great for relieving the rigorous manual labor for certain tasks, the lack of human control with AI carries several disadvantages. For instance, AI cannot make subjective decisions, nor can it validate a result or a decision due to incorrect input of numbers. While AI helps reduce errors, that is only possible if there has been no error in input by the auditor. Such errors require a thorough examination by a human to ensure that the correct result is being derived.

5. Integration issues

This is one of the most common issues faced by smaller accounting firms. Incorporating AI into the audit processes might require businesses to spend a lot more money. Also, not all technology can be integrated seamlessly with one another. For example, ideally, you want your audit tool to integrate seamlessly with your workflow tool. However, that might not be possible, given the technical constraints. Moreover, ensuring that the AI is integrated with the current systems needs a lot of time and resource investment in their training.

Tackling these challenges like a pro!

Although AI poses several challenges in the world of auditing, its benefits overshadow the problems. Establishing strict ethical guidelines and monitoring rules are the first steps to help mitigate the risk of unethical behavior and data manipulation. Auditors must also prioritize transparency by thoroughly documenting AI algorithms and decision-making strategies, reanalyzing them, cross-checking with as many references as possible, and facilitating stakeholder accountability. Firms must work towards adapting comprehensive cybersecurity measures, such as encryptions, access controls, and threat detection systems that can help prevent breaches and fraud. To address the inadequate human control, auditors should adopt a combined verification approach—combining AI and human efforts. Ongoing training and upskilling can play a key role in ensuring that the teams of auditors are up-to-date with the changing needs of the industry and aim to do what is right.

Integrating AI in auditing can become easier with the adoption of outsourcing. Outsourcing your auditing functions can not only help save cost and time in adaptation and training and give you access to a team that is already adept in the process. Top outsourcing firms also have stringent security policies that reduce the chances of breach. By leveraging external expertise and resources, organizations can help understand and overcome the complexities of AI integration and adopt a holistic approach to help them scale.

Sponsored Content: This article is generously brought to you by one of our valued sponsors. Their support enables us to continue delivering expert insights and the latest industry trends to our dedicated community of accounting professionals.

Topics: Modern Practice


Sign up and stay plugged into the education, news pieces and information relevant to you.

Subscribe to The Woodard Report today! 

Do you have questions about this article? Email us and let us know >