Auditor (n.): He (or she) who listens
He or she who listens is the original Latin meaning of the word auditor. This refers to a time when the auditor was somebody who carefully listened to accounts read aloud verbally. By doing so, auditors ensured all information was correct and complete. This was certainly a job that required patience and an unparalleled ability to stay focused. Imagine the integral accounts of a firm being read out to you; this would bring even the strongest among us to sleep.
The audit profession has moved along since then. Still, auditors spend a lot of time listening, but (luckily?) not nearly as much as in medieval times.
Imagine for a second if the organizational burden of the former way of working was alive today. The business would truly have a justified reason to complain about audit. This medieval mode of working is hardly a risk-based approach.
Thankfully, weve seen progress. Todays auditors take a more advanced and risk-based approach to understanding where to focus on using properly designed risk and control frameworks. But, increasingly, also by listening to data. This is where the biggest progress is to be expected in the near future. Rather than reading through all accounts, software technology does the reading and the listening, while alerting us of red flags or that which requires more attention. This kind of progress would make more than a few medieval auditors jealous. Despite that, there is a lot of ground to cover before modern audit technology is adopted in all audit teams.
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