Professional services Whitepaper The Future of Audit The global pandemic has forced auditor firms to rethink the way they conduct their audit and assurance businesses. It has caused delays in completion timelines as well as challenges in the requisite fieldwork. While guidance has been issued by regulators to keep audit quality and processes robust as much as possible, much of the response to the pandemic has been tactical. A recent spate of audit failures has also tarnished the reputation of audit firms, including some of the Big 4 firms, and has brought in heavy punitive fines. Further, in the U.K., the FRC (Financial Reporting Council) has taken note that auditing as a business per se has been less lucrative, yet continues to be ‘subsidized’ from other services in the professional services firms. It has, therefore, asked the Big 4 firms to hive-off their audit business as separate entities for greater accountability. In view of all of the above, a new technology-powered approach to conducting the audit business is clearly demanded. Data, remote & immersive technologies, and automation-driven audit ecosystems built on the foundation of multi-stakeholder collaboration, can serve as the magic bullet, but it requires a far-reaching vision of the future of audit. Such a vision would not only turn around trust and profitability, but also keep them sustainable with audit technology solutions weighing in to add objectivity, accountability, industry specialization and long-term TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) reduction. In our whitepaper, we try to answer some key questions: What are some of the current challenges facing the audit sector? What aspects must be considered to respond to pandemic-like situations strategically than the reactive stance that most auditors adopted? How can the trust deficit be bridged with technology, given the recent set of audit failures? How can audit planning and execution be made more effective, transparent and value-adding for all stakeholders involved?