Facing a March 31 end of their fiscal year, some retail companies were still wrapping up their 2019 audit when the pandemic hit. Aided by innovative technology, EY audit teams transformed their mindset and game plan almost overnight, regrouping and adapting to the daily challenges of a virtual workplace and the revised outlook for the sector.
EY’s ongoing investment in cutting-edge audit technology was instrumental in alleviating a variety of client concerns and allowed engagement teams to work securely and efficiently in a virtual workplace. When technology was combined with the skills, knowledge and experience of people, it led to success in an incredibly fluid environment.
Here are some ways EY was able to address the complex accounting issues that arose due to the pandemic while delivering a high-quality audit that promotes integrity and protects investors.
Auditing in a virtual environment
The pandemic meant audit teams had to find new ways to conduct standard tasks like walk throughs and on-site inventories. Collaborative platforms and video conferencing technologies not only connected our audit professionals with their clients, they allowed for remote observation of inventory counts and engaging dialogue with audit committees.
EY Canvas, our global audit platform, helped audit teams work with company management to seamlessly coordinate, manage and drive the audit process. The use of EY Canvas in conjunction with collaboration platforms and video conferencing allowed our teams to stay connected with company management to effectively and efficiently conduct our audit procedures in accordance with professional standards
Providing transparency into critical accounting issues
EY teams continued to provide valuable perspective in the retail sector, as companies which had positive growth projections in January found themselves facing significant liquidity and cash flow issues due to COVID-19 as they entered Q1. By leveraging our suite of Helix Analyzers, audit teams were able to conduct audit procedures with full data sets, drilling down on anomalies and trends.
Audit teams that had already put the foundation of the data-first audit in place pre-pandemic were able to pivot and respond to emerging needs. For example, on one retail client, the audit team had captured broadscale data on assets for all of its retail outlets in Q1, though only a few were impaired at the time. When the client faced challenges to its entire fleet of stores due to the pandemic shutdown, the audit team had the relevant data readily available to it to enable the team to effectively evaluate the company’s impairment analysis.
As retail operations look to post-COVID recovery, the results of a data-driven audit will continue to provide insights to audit committees and boards, while also supporting the performance of high-quality audits which promote high-quality financial reporting and transparent, objective views of results that enhance investor and other stakeholder confidence.