State Board Report
The accounting profession needs to fulfill the vision of providing more information, and that requires the evolution of attestation, Cathy Engelbert, chief executive officer of Deloitte, told NASBA’s 110th Annual Meeting on October 30 in New York City. She explained that the profession is at a crossroads with five generations in the workforce and shifts in technology, demographics and expectations of investors and shareholders.
Ms. Engelbert recalled that last year she told Deloitte it was the “year of cognitive,” when they were streamlining manual processes and revolutionizing how financial transactions are recorded. While she predicted that 90 percent of present accounting and auditing jobs will become automated in coming years, she believes not all that accountants do will be taken over by machines: “Professional skepticism and judgement remain critical – those are the hardest things to automate or replicate.” She observed that humans are still unique for their empathy, intelligence, creativity and other attributes which come into play with the professional skepticism that is required for accountants to do their job. The work will change, and young people coming into the profession are fired up by the opportunity to use artificial intelligence, drones, and other technologies that will create new career paths.
Stakeholders are looking for more information, analysis and insights and 75 percent of stakeholders surveyed believe auditors should use technology to provide more information than is provided in the traditional financial statements. “Where so much of securities law predates technology, there needs to be conversation,” Ms. Engelbert remarked. She maintains that “talent and technology can truly merge to provide value for investors.”
“To get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ will require us to think in new ways, work together as a profession, listen to investor and other stakeholder needs, and work with academia, regulators and legislators,” Ms. Engelbert stated.
Deloitte is proud to support the ethics training provided by the NASBA Center for the Public Trust, Ms. Engelbert stated. The CPT gets ethics on students’ radar earlier. She also commended NASBA for its efforts to promote diversity, which is needed at both the front and end of the candidate pipeline. “Diversity of the pipeline is an immediate challenge,” she noted.
Ms. Engelbert concluded her remarks by stating, “I think the sky is the limit for this profession.”
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