Contributed by: Wes Bricker, PwC Vice Chair and US & Mexico Assurance Leader
Transformation is today’s work to secure tomorrow’s relevance. Change can be hard. Settling for the status quo is easy. But transforming how and where we deliver assurance requires courage, commitment, and effort. We can then do more, increase value for our stakeholders, and secure a future for the generation of professionals who come after us.
Just this past May, I wrote a piece, “Why Auditing In The Time of COVID-19 Requires A Delicate Balance Of Human and Machine”, highlighting the vital transformation that PwC has undergone in the face of a health pandemic as we meet the needs of stakeholders and leave none of our people behind in a fast-moving, digital future.
A short four months later, I still marvel at that transformation — not only at the transformation of our people and their resilience during these uncertain times but also at the increasingly important role that auditors have come to play in value creation within the capital markets.
While auditors have always been important, their work over the last few months has moved with speed, born out of necessity for confidence in the information used for vital decisions about investments and the direction of business.
Stakeholders participating in the markets are placing more emphasis than ever before on a company’s financial statements quarter over quarter rather than a longer-term lens which naturally creates a greater emphasis, importance and priority on the reliability and timeliness of the financial information that auditors help provide. By helping to provide confidence in this information, auditors can help play a role in building trust in the markets at a time when we need it most.
This transformation, however, goes beyond simply an auditor’s ability to help deliver confidence in information to the markets. It also goes to how we are gathering, analyzing and reporting this information. The profession has been forced to think more broadly about our methodologies and ensure that we are making full use of critical technologies and systems available to us. These technologies have enabled us to look at fuller data sets of companies to better identify anomalies rather than taking smaller samples. It refocused us on process automation and advanced analytics. This was one of many ways that enabled our engagement teams to transition within a week from remote and on-premises delivery to virtual delivery, allowing for a seamless continuation of service.
While we are not through this storm, I take great comfort in the strength of our profession. Auditors never wavered from their responsibilities nor from their purpose. Across the profession, we saw the audit in action nimbly adapt to the new (ab)normal and to help continue to strengthen trust in the capital markets.
I am proud to be an auditor and commend my colleagues within PwC and across the profession for their continued efforts in these challenging times.