Artificial Intelligens – the Next Auditor?

Nicolai Wiese & Victor Fortmann Storm

Student thesis: Master thesis


The audit industry has undergone a transformation in recent years, with Data Analytics gaining a large part of the audits. Artificial intelligence and new technology are hot topics of discussion, including how this will affect the auditor and the audit process in the future. The thesis aims to examine the auditor's position on the use of new technology in the audit process, including the challenges identified by the auditor in future implementation and how these challenges can be addressed.
The study of the thesis question has been examined through research on the subject, inter-views and a questionnaire survey. Initially, the laws and regulations to which the industry is subject are examined, using secondary sources such as legislation, textbooks, research papers etc. Next the auditor's understanding of artificial intelligence and challenges associated with the use of new technology in the audit process. This has been explored through semi-structured interviews with six certified public accountants. The challenges derived from the interviews with the six certified public accountants have been cross examined through a questionnaire survey, which was answered by 72 respondents with experience as auditors. Finally, the challenges highlighted by the auditors from the qualitative interviews and the quantitative questionnaire are discussed with the opinions of three experts, in relation to their understanding of the challenges and how this should be addressed.
The study concluded that the interviewed auditors’ general knowledge of artificial intelligence was limited, although the auditors assesses a major relevance to the industry. This led to an analysis of the challenges that the auditor identified with further implementation of artificial intelligence and new technology in the audit process. Overall, six challenges were identified through the qualitative interviews, five of which were backed up with consensus in the quantitative survey. The challenges consist of 1) audit standards, 2) data availability, 3) data discipline, 4) auditor's competencies, 5) investment willingness, and 6) profitability. Profitability was not assessed as a challenge by the auditors and therefore not addressed in the discussion. The discussion derived a lack of consensus when comparing the auditors’ and the experts’ opinion on how these challenges should be addressed.
Based on the research conducted in this thesis it has been possible for the authors to make three recommendations for an improved future implementation of artificial intelligence and new technologies in the audit process. These are; 1) requirements of implementation of new technologies in audit tasks, 2) the auditors’ competencies for IT understanding must be increased, and 3) professional practice departments must support implementation of new technology.

EducationsMSc in Auditing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages122