Expected Outcomes from Redesigning the Audit Associate Role
Reduction in transactional tasks
Transactional tasks such as the preparation of confirmations, roll-forward procedures, processing and managing of documents and certain financial reporting procedures can be automated. This gives audit associates more time to focus on developing expertise in their work that requires professional judgement and communicating with clients. Expected time savings on these job tasks can be viewed below.
Increase in productivity
A study1 by the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) found that Small and Medium Accounting Practices (SMP) had a 19% – 52% increase in revenue, with companies providing advisory services having more gains from digitalising to focus on generating revenues from higher value activities.
With RPA, data gathering, and data extraction tools, the audit function is able to cover more with less. Considering that this model is scalable and largely independent from labour monitoring, businesses can see more cost savings as they scale up and cover more accounts.
Increase value through technology expertise
Audit associates are expected to develop new skills that require digital literacy in RPA scripts, data extraction and visualisation tools. Given the nature of their work, they are expected to be experts in data protection and security, working in ways that protect client data while ensuring deliverables are met in a timely manner.
Enhanced quality of work
Managers who worked with a “digital worker” saw a reduction in errors, giving them more bandwidth to focus on strategic work and decision making. Employees would also be more engaged at work and will be given opportunities to develop their skills as they leverage their expertise in solving higher level problems.
Processes Recommended for Quick Wins
There are many processes that can be automated through RPA. However, as each organisation is different, organisations need to consider their available resources (financial and non-financial), identify and prioritise processes that would be most meaningful for them to automate first. Below is a summary of key data points collected from our pilot project for reference. Variance refers to the level of repetitive work involved in a task. A task with high variance would require more human intervention and attention compared to tasks with medium or low variance.
Expected Outcomes of Automation
|Data management and document preparation
|Up to 70%
|Up to 20%
|Accounts Payable processing
|Up to 20%
1Singapore Accountancy Commission, 2020. The Future of Audit. Quick Guide to Digitalisation and Business Diversification for SMPs (Small and Medium Accounting Practices).