• The future of Audit is set to transform in the UAE, leading way to change

Grant Thornton, a leading international assurance and advisory firm and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the leading global professional accountancy body hosted a number of key influencers on the 7th of April 2015 at an event titled “The Future of Audit”, which set out to find how the audit environment is set to change to meet the evolving needs of the UAE economy.

The UAE has a diverse economy which is challenging international markets, but what does this mean for companies and their audited financial statements? What regulations and legislations are taking place globally and locally further promoting change within the industry? These are some of the questions that the audience addressed during the insightful discussion that was attended by some of the largest leading businesses in the UAE.
 
The roundtable found that the independence and strength of the audit committee is key and that the overall strategy of the business should be digested to further drive the way forward for the benefit of the organisation, which will also allow the committee to recognise any lapses in control. The audience also touched on the practical challenges of the upcoming long form report with regulators looking to hold awareness sessions to address this concern.
 
The UAE is fast becoming a leading economy recognised world over for exceeding expectations and innovating the future. What needs to be done within audit to ensure the needs of growing businesses are met and that the current standard auditing approach of delivering financial statements is reformed?
 
The audience stated that the role of auditing needs to encompass a ‘trusted advisor’ approach whereby the auditor becomes a strategic partner to further unlock their growth potential and solve any complex issues which may arise.
 
Some of the challenges identified for the future of audit was the use of technology and is this fit for purpose as the profession evolves. This included moving from historical financial statements to integrated reporting. The participants also stated that at present audit is trying to be all things to all people but there is a risk that one standard report doesn’t meet the needs of all the different stakeholders and there could be a requirement for different reports for different purposes. There is also the challenges of increasingly complex businesses and the ability of the audit functions and providers to keep up with those changes.
 
The insightful discussion led way to a futuristic view of the future of audit and how this should no longer be seen as a tick box exercise, but more so a value added partnership which is neccesary for organisations who are truly looking to grow and achieve their growth ambitions.
 
The topic concluded with the audience taking away a parting question: should there be a single body for supervision and oversight of the audit process across the UAE? Which sees the debate continue in Abu Dhabi in the coming months.