What are the Challenges of the Remote Working Process for Accounting and Auditing Firms?
Remote working process was in the picture even before the pandemic. Majority of accounting firms were adopting cloud based accounting systems and encouraging their staff and accountants to train themselves to work and perform their duties and tasks from any computer or device. Technological advancements have resulted in the transition of firms from outdated accounting systems to advanced and automated accounting systems. Due to the pandemic every firm had to adopt the remote working norm and was forced to bring changes in the organization and the structure in which they earlier worked.
At the initial stage every firm may have faced difficulties and challenges to adopt remote working processes. Keeping in mind the present circumstances, this process will be permanently adopted by the accounting firms in future. Within a short duration the whole globe will adapt to this new system of working because it not only enables to maintain flexibility within the firm but also allows the accounting firms to stay at edge and maintain its position in a competitive market.
Challenges of remote working
Remote working has both negative and positive impacts on an accounting and auditing firm. Even though it seems to be manageable to shift to remote working it will be a great challenge for those accountants who used to flourish in their professional workspaces. Let us have a look on the challenges listed below:
Difficulties regarding convincing the clients
This is one of the major challenges of remote working. Before the pandemic everyone used to work at their respective offices, and they had a smooth flow of communication regarding instructions, decisions, problems, queries etc. every individual could personally approach the concerned authorities for reporting and getting instructions. But now everything is being changed. The auditors may find it difficult to present the audit services and audit reports to their clients in a convincing manner even though they are all virtually connected but still it is not so easy to transfer all details related to the work via electronic media. The clients may fail to conceive the report in the same manner as the auditor requires and vice versa. Still efforts are made to overcome this hindrance by adopting new technological strategies and maintaining a smooth channel of communication.
Imbalance between work and personal life :
The auditors or accountants may not be able to maintain a balance between their work and personal life. They are likely to get distracted from work due to many things. They might feel lazy to work. Remote working may not suit everyone; many people prefer personal interaction with subordinates or colleagues, some may prefer personal guidance etc. For some people it may not fit into their home life e.g. those who have young children at home may face interruptions while they are working or the persons who cannot maintain a dedicated work area won’t be able to work effectively hence there may be a decrease in productivity.
Difficulty in monitoring
The managers and the higher authorities may find it difficult to monitor their subordinates. They may not be able to instruct the employees or guide them in performing the task. Lack of proper supervision may lead to serious errors. If they had worked in an office then the problems or mistakes could have been detected at an early stage but in a remote working process it may take time to detect any issues.
Physical verifications issues
In the normal course the auditors used to visit the facilities of the companies to conduct the physical verification by comparing the reports with the account statements. They also conduct inventory counting procedures and verify it with the company's accounting statements such as sales report etc. but now they may not be able to approach the companies to conduct such visits and verify the statements personally, which is one major challenge for the auditors.
Another major challenge is related to the risk of fraud. While working remotely everyone is connected to their colleagues or subordinates virtually. They don’t have any idea what is happening behind the screen (lack of transparency). Many individuals may use this loophole to conduct malpractices such as asset mismanagement, indulging in illegal activities such as money laundering etc. The auditors may also fail to detect such activities as they are void of complete documents and information required for the verification.
Unable to conduct internal control test
Auditors are required to understand the internal control structure of a firm and to observe how the employees process the transactions. They must test the design and efficiency of the internal control procedures. Now as the remote work process is adopted the control measure will be changed and the auditors may not be able to monitor those control measures personally.
How can you overcome the challenges?
- Prepare a standard communication schedule to provide up-dated information to the clients.
- Always try to ensure accountability within the audit teams, so that you can know who does what.
- Employees must be provided with the required resources to work effectively at home.
- Make investment in new communication technologies and provide adequate training to the personnel regarding its usage.
- Adopting secured web portals to ensure secure transfer of documents. Auditors often require financial or personal documents of employees etc. for examining, these must be transferred via secured portals
- Get prepared for a permanent change as the remote working process is the “new normal”.
- Never compromise with the quality standards of auditing even if it is conducted virtually.
- Always try to present the audit report personally to avoid the problem of misunderstanding between client and the auditor.
- Monitoring the audit progress by arranging a pre-audit planning meeting with the audit team and the key personnel will help to provide an idea about the audit to the clients and reduce the nervousness of other team members.
- Provide the employees with the required access to the data so that a transparent mode of work is maintained and the employees can get a clear picture regarding the current situation of a firm.
How can CDA help?
At some point in the future the pandemic may end, but the “new normal” that each one of us will have to adapt with, will include remote auditing and accounting. CDA with its professionalized team in remote auditing and accounting provides quality accounting services to its clientele. Our highly dedicated and sincere team is ready to assist the clients at any time regarding their queries and needs about accounting, book-keeping, VAT registration, tax consultancy, bad- debts accounting and auditing. We provide well experienced and professionalized experts dealing with all the requirements of the clientele so that the clients receive what they expect in a personalized manner by maintaining a transparent work structure.