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The Importance of Audit During Times of Disruption

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the existing challenges facing businesses and exposed new risks that must be addressed.

A global survey, organized by Deloitte during the height of the initial COVID-19 lockdown, was conducted to better understand the value that c-suite, finance and audit committee executives, investors, shareholders, and board members place on audit as a result of COVID-19.

The results unveil some of the most pressing COVID-19 concerns, many of which are still relevant today, as well as executives’ changing perceptions about the role of auditors in approaching these challenges.

The Importance Of Assessing Risk

90% of executives in the survey felt that management could benefit by taking a page from the auditor’s playbook in assessing risks from such events. For example, adhering to sound internal controls principles and practices, employing robust systems of quality control, and entrenching a culture of ethics and integrity can go a long way to helping an organization remain resilient in times of crisis

Businesses that seek to understand the long-term impacts of the crisis on their operating models are more likely to find new ways to quickly adapt to the post-COVID-19 world. To navigate this emerging environment, all participants in the financial reporting ecosystem from companies and boards to regulators, auditors, and investors, will need to continue to participate in regular and transparent engagement.

Successful businesses will find opportunities to learn from the COVID-19 crisis and use their experiences to prepare for future disruptive events

Communication & Reporting

When asked what actions their businesses were planning to take to respond to COVID-19 challenges, 63% of executives said they were focusing on communications with investors and stakeholders on business challenges and impacts. This response amplifies the positive potential impact that constructive engagement throughout the reporting ecosystem could have on markets.

Access to timely, transparent, meaningful data and insights remains critical. It enables stakeholders— investors, employees, suppliers, governments, and regulators—to identify companies who have so-far mitigated, or continually working to mitigate, the disruptive effects of the pandemic.

Looking Forward

As businesses continue to adjust to the new normal, understanding the long-term effects of the pandemic and what actions we all need to take is critical. COVID-19 has revealed just how disruptive events can be on “business as usual” and emphasized the need for future planning. With threats like climate change ramping up there is a lot to be considered and planned for.

Doing business has been forever changed, including how auditors operate. It is clear that the auditing profession has an important role to play in advancing economic recovery. This is why the conversation around the future of audit is so critical at this moment in time.

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