Deloitte Audit & Assurance partner Jo Heighway told SMSF Adviser’s sister title, Accountants Daily, that Deloitte is beginning to use robots in its audit division.
“The SMSF audit team within Deloitte is pioneering robotics technology for the broader audit practice,” Ms Heighway said.
“So we’re able to effectively program and train robots for a lot of the data collection and document collection activities. That is clearly increasing our efficiency [and] our ability to scale.”
“Our robots work 24/7, which means that basically our team is able to come in each morning, and the robots have been working continuously, refreshing and gathering documentation for each new day.”
While Ms Heighway believes that full automation of the audit process is possible, it’s not their current goal.
“Right now our focus is on essentially freeing up auditors’ time for a high-level risk-based approach and automating the menial tasks and the data collection, and using analytics to really have an exception-based approach,” she said.
“I think full automation would be challenging because no two SMSFs are exactly the same, so I think that SMSF audit specialists will always be required. They’re not going to be replaced by robots anytime soon, but we’re certainly pushing the boundaries of where technology can be used.”
Mr Heighway said that auditors are increasingly trying to get access to more data direct from the source to speed up the audit process.
“In the last 12 months, we’ve made significant headway in terms of getting access to data that we can use to potentially verify accounting information and records,” she said.
“Whether that be data straight from the share registries, or even property valuations, land title searches, or company searches.”
Ms Heighway admitted that Deloitte does have size on their side, indicating that smaller firms may struggle to achieve the same level of data access.
“I think it’s definitely difficult for the smaller players to be able to invest in the technology that’s required to build something like that themselves,” she said.