Undergraduate Students Learn From EY National Leaders in Audit Innovation

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Advancements in emerging technologies are not fads that will go out of style. Faster computers, more data, and advancements in computer science will not disappear anytime soon. In Adjunct Professor Mark Rouchard’s Auditing (ACCT271) class, students address this growing trend head on. 

To add a real-world perspective to his class, he recently invited Ernst & Young’s (EY) Michael Risk, principal consultant, and Michael Williams, senior manager, to speak with students. Both are EY’s national leaders in audit innovation, directly involved in developing EY’s approach for using data analytics on financial statement audits and with hands-on experience in using these tools on client engagements. 

Auditing provides a systemic analysis of the financial statement audit process. This course focuses on how auditors examine a company’s business processes and internal controls to assess audit risk and develop a strategy to audit the company’s financial statements.  It also explores how audit firms are using data analytics to improve the quality and efficiency of their risk assessment and audit execution activities.

Throughout the discussion with McDonough undergraduate students, Risk and Williams focused on the rapidly growing use of data analytics in the audit process. They considered how auditors are using advances in technology and artificial intelligence to analyze large quantities of data (big data) to identify anomalies, perform intricate analyses, and make predictive estimates of account balances.

“Data analytics have fundamentally changed the audit profession, enabling auditors to reallocate their time budget and human capital,” said Sean Doherty (B’22), a student in the class. “The ability to process large datasets, for example, has led to a shift from sample to population testing, effectively eliminating sampling error without adding additional time.”

The discussion was followed by student hands-on demonstrations, as well as examples of how data analytics is used on audit engagements. 

“The best part about their visit was how relevant the material is to my educational and professional career,” said Caroline Favano (B’22). “The team gave real-world, clear examples that highlighted how we, as current and future working professionals, can use data to enhance the quality and delivery of our work.” 

Jason Schloetzer, associate professor of accounting and accounting area coordinator, emphasised the necessity of discussions in the classroom about data analytics. He urged that students develop fluency around this shift in the business and public policy landscape and noted the opportunities to learn more about it within McDonough. 

“There are an increasing number of opportunities across the undergraduate curriculum for students to connect advancements in computer science and individual fields of study,” he said.  “Accounting courses such as Mark’s are helping students begin to see how emerging technologies can solve real-world business and public policy problems.”