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How Chartered Accountants can help business navigate digital disruption

Digital technology is disrupting industries around the world, and chartered accountants have a front-row seat on the changes happening in business.

Technology is reshaping the audit profession and firms must have the foresight to invest in audit technology and analytics to add value to the work they deliver, says Max Loh, Asean and Singapore Managing Partner at EY.

Empowering the profession

Digital’s double-edged sword is that it has the potential to disrupt the workforce, displacing low-value tasks that can now be performed by robotics and artificial intelligence. “On the other hand, it will help us to drive up productivity and empower those in the profession to move up the knowledge and skills curve and focus on insight-driven audits so as to add greater value to business,” Loh adds.

There are other ways that technology will impact on business. “The cost of doing business will go down as more companies automate their processes. It’s a cheaper way of providing services to customers,” says Christabel Michel Banda, CEO with the Insurers Association of Zambia.

Improving business processes

Information technology has the potential to improve how accountants provide information, John Chiwele, CFO of Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia. He likens information systems to roads for a business to travel. “They are building systems to improve our processes and how we get the information out of these systems and better use the information itself in how we run the company,” says John.

Tomorrow’s accountants will need to refine their skills to prepare for a digital future, says Loh. “With the rise of digital and analytics, reasoned analysis and interpretation – which has always been prized – will be more valuable than ever,” he says.

Growth opportunities

Digital brings new growth opportunities for the audit profession, adds Max Loh. “There is also a huge opportunity for audit to collaborate with or cross-train professionals from other disciplines such as IT, cyber, engineering and HR to develop client service teams that address and advise on broader business and IT operations and strategy issues.”