Why audit talent matters now more than ever

Amid a shift to more technology-enabled audit enhancements, finding and mentoring the right talent is more important than ever.

Digital transformation gets a lot of mindshare these days. But what about people transformation?

There’s no question that advanced technology, automation, and data and analytics can deliver real results in just about every industry today. And, increasingly, these digital capabilities are no longer aspirational—they are must-have table-stakes for doing business.

But without the right talent to put them to work, all of those dynamic new tech capabilities risk being a lot of high-stakes digital opportunities that are simply left on the table.

This is especially true in the audit field, where the rise of digital-powered enhancements is also putting a spotlight on the need to transform talent for an industry in which personal relationships and trust have always been paramount.

To explore how auditors are upgrading their skills to match the pace of today’s digital revolution, KPMG LLP partnered with Forbes Magazine to talk with 250 senior U.S. finance executives and learn more about what they expect from the next generation of auditors. A number of relevant insights and recommendations arose from the survey, which we outline in our report, “Transforming talent drives a better audit experience.

Our next-gen auditors will need to shine in both hard and soft capabilities to meet today’s higher client expectations.
Becky Sproul, Audit Talent and Culture Leader, KPMG in the US.

Know the tech (and what it means)

One of the biggest findings from our report is the importance of shifting the workplace culture to adapt to the evolving employee and stakeholder expectations. Cooperation and flexibility are now some of the most highly valued aspects of a productive workplace.

Indeed, the executives surveyed emphasized the need to promote collaboration and people-first strategies to deliver the best results. Specifically, they want auditors in this people-centric approach to be equipped with both “hard” and “soft” skills. That means excellence in data analytics and technology, for example, but also critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to easily communicate insights to clients.

Among the key findings from our survey:

Among finance executives, three out of four we spoke with expect their auditors to have a command of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation, and blockchain, while also being highly competent with data science as well.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of the survey respondents expect their auditors to have “investigative financial skills” that deliver relevant data analytics to achieve specific objectives.

More than half (55 percent) believe that building teams, mentoring, and change-management are increasingly important attributes in the workplace.

The large majority (80 percent) believe that critical reasoning, problem-solving, and matching complex challenges with clearly defined solutions will be critical.

Improve the workplace to improve the audit

The survey’s overarching emphasis on a people-first approach is grounded in improving an auditor’s internal culture and the client’s audit experience. For example, enabling flexibility by giving auditors the option to work remotely can widen the talent pool and increase retention, while also improving communication between clients and auditors.

At KPMG, we are growing our own audit teams as both functional experts and collaborative problem-solvers with three foundational approaches:

Continuous upskilling:

Expanding our auditors’ hard and soft skills through ongoing training and education.

Culture transformation:

Implementing practices that foster a culture of innovation and collaboration.

Enabling hybrid work:

Providing our tech-savvy auditors with the tools they need to deliver for clients both in-person and remotely.

To help advance this mission, we opened the KPMG Lakehouse in Lake Nona, Florida. Lakehouse is a leading learning and innovation center where our employees can receive in-person professional development and learn about important topics, such as AI, data, and analytics. We’ve also worked with leading business schools to create a Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics curriculum so that emerging professionals can embrace the latest tools.

Ultimately, we want our own auditing talent to strengthen their skills so they can spend more time cultivating a relationship with clients while delivering insights, results, and a technology-enabled audit experience that is people-focused every step of the way.

Contact us

Rebecca P Sproul

Rebecca P Sproul

Audit Talent and Culture Leader, KPMG US

+1 305-913-2763