AI (Artificial Intelligence) in auditing
The Department of Commercial Accounting held a webinar on artificial intelligence (AI) in the auditing profession on 20 May 2021.
Guest speaker, Saaleha Akoojee CA (SA), partner at PwC South Africa and UJ Alumna, relayed how many accounting and auditing functions, which used to be performed by humans 15 years ago, can now for the most part be performed by machines. While the machines do enhance the quality of auditing, auditors would not be replaced by machines. Humans benefit from the high speed and accuracy with which machines can analyse large volumes of data and generate insights, freeing up human hands to perform work of higher value and complexity, to interpret and analyse data.
Auditing no longer needs to be limited by what is humanly possible. The audit landscape provides a very fertile ground for robotic process automation in the form of machine learning, and in the form of artificial intelligence. Audit and accounting firms are already employing data scientists and data engineers who have an accounting and auditing background and who can develop the necessary software and technology needed for transforming the audit landscape.
Akoojee says projections are that about 30% of corporate audits will actually be performed by machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms by the year 2025. This rapid transformation creates a need for ethical governance in terms of implementation, as well as regulatory guidance and oversight.
UJ Convocation representative on the UJ Council and member of the executive committee of the UJ Convocation, Msizi Khoza, director of investment banking division at ABSA, said accounting professionals have come under a lot of criticism the last couple of years as evidence showed the complicity of auditing firms in unacceptable behavior. The auditing profession could now leverage the wonders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to improve the delivery and the efficacy of the profession, he said.