Auditors at odds over future of SMSF auditing
One SMSF auditing firm’s suggestion that real-time auditing in the SMSF sector is currently “neither practical nor viable” has been met with a strong rebuttal from the chief executive of Engage Super Audits.
The concept of real-time auditing has been championed by Engage Super Audits chief executive Jo Heighway, who told SMSF Adviser it’s “no longer acceptable” for auditors to be receiving client information months after transactions have occurred.
“That means effectively our advice is almost way too late to even be relevant to anybody. Real-time information is what everyone wants,” Ms Heighway said.
However, director of SuperAuditors Shelley Banton likened the wait for real-time SMSF audits to the wait for “hoverboards”.
“It’s an exciting idea in lots of ways, but we won’t be seeing real-time SMSF audits any time soon,” Ms Banton said. “Why? Because the technology hasn’t been developed yet.”
Ms Banton said it would take deep pockets and access to “a multitude” of resources to set up continuous auditing for SMSFs.
“In the end only larger SMSF administration platforms will be able to offer continuous SMSF auditing, or some sort of hybrid, mainly due to economies of scale,” Ms Banton said. “Smaller platforms won’t be able to negotiate with banks and financial institutions to obtain simple data feeds.”
In response to Ms Banton’s comments, Ms Heighway told SMSF Adviser real-time auditing shouldn’t be considered a “fantasy” idea.
“The argument that real-time auditing is not coming any time soon because the ‘technology hasn’t been invented yet’ misses the point. We don’t need to wait for technology to be built before we can start moving in this direction,” she said.
“Yes you can sit back and wait for technology to be ‘invented’ for you. Or you could look at technology well and truly available today, and consider what can be done right now to use this technology to make [an] audit more relevant and valuable.
“Auditors should not feel alarmed in any way by the idea of bringing their audit work closer into the present, they should feel excited by the potential.”