Thomson Reuters introduces Cloud Audit Suite into UK software market

Cloud Audit Suite offers complete integration between audit methodology and workflows, and timely updates to templates for changes in audit standards make it considerably easier and faster for auditors to ensure compliance with the latest audit regulations. 

As all the audit work is stored on the cloud, multiple stakeholders can securely access individual audit projects from anywhere – allowing an audit team to work much more collaboratively. Version control technology ensures that only the permitted individuals may edit audit documentation. 

ICAEW former chair of the office of tax simplification, Kathryn Cearns, was a major contributor to the audit methodology. She has served as a board member on several high-profile public bodies and has extensive expertise in financial reporting, auditing standards and corporate governance. 

Cloud Audit Suite has been a market-leading product in the United States, where its methodology has been developed over 35 years and used by over a thousand audit firms. Thomson Reuters has tailored its ground-breaking technology for the UK audit market, enabling firms to design a risk-based audit approach for any sized entity. 

Thomson Reuters vice president of product management, John Hiller, said: “As the UK’s audit profession prepares itself for long-awaited reform, technology such as the Cloud Audit Suite will make it considerably easier for auditors to deliver high-quality audits. A key benefit of the product is that it will significantly speed up the time to complete audits, improving efficiency within firms.”

EY marks eighth UK acquisition in two years with consulting services provider whyaye

EY announced the acquisition of whyaye ltd, a UK-based consulting services provider for the ServiceNow platform, as part of significant ongoing investments in technology consulting services.  

Founded in 2019, whyaye ltd is a Newcastle-based consulting services provider for the ServiceNow platform with over 100 employees across the UK. ServiceNow is a digital platform which combines diverse business data and processes into a consolidated, integrated and automated services management solution. 

The acquisition, which will be known as EY whyaye, will support the growth of EY Technology Consulting services by expanding capacity, capabilities and market presence around the ServiceNow technology platform. Maureen Robson-Norman, whyaye CEO will join Ernst & Young LLP as a Partner. 

EY managing partner for client services, UK & Ireland, Alison Kay, commented: “This is the eighth acquisition in the UK in just over two years and is part of our wider growth strategy. EY whyaye will enhance our thriving consulting services, bringing new capabilities and skills and follows the recent acquisitions of Frank Hirth, Pythagoras Communications, Seaton Partners, Lane4, PeakEPM, Blackdot and most recently Digital Detox.” 

Last year, the EY organisation unveiled plans to double the size of its UK and Ireland Consulting services over the next four years, backed by £75m of investment. 

5G and AI to spark ‘a five-year technological revolution’

The increasing adoption of the 5G telecom network and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are starting a five-year technological revolution, according to a report issued by iResearch Services. 

As 5G and AI solutions mature up to 2027, they will have an increasing impact on businesses, economies and the environment, part two of the ‘How Sustainable is the Technology Sector?’ report states. 

This five-year revolution will focus on technology for good and will also help in sustainability and carbon reduction measures, sector leaders tell global thought leadership consultancy, iResearch Services. 

GSMA Intelligence senior analyst, Emanuel Kolta, said: “The main purpose of 5G telecoms network will move from connecting people to connecting things. It could be connecting salmon farms in the ocean. In every industry, there are applications that would bring benefits.” 

“Industry, manufacturing and agriculture and the service sector will all see major positive impacts. 

“It’s not necessarily about speed, but what you can connect. For instance, you would be able to control a crane from a shared service centre, rather than having to be there in person. The tech industry will help many other industries to operate in a more efficient manner.” 

Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates founder, Russ Shaw, said that the tech industry will need to embrace new technologies to minimise climate change. 

Shaw commented: “In addressing the climate crisis, we will need not only to embrace new technologies, but also rethink how we measure and use data, and ensure the culture of our sector is rooted in sustainability.” 

This will mean tech companies making it a key priority to measure their power consumption and CO2 emissions for a product’s entire lifespan.

NEAR Foundation and Outlier Ventures launch joint accelerator programme

NEAR Foundation, a non-profit that supports the on-going growth and development of the Near Protocol and Outlier Ventures, a Web3 investor and accelerator, have announced the launch of the NEAR Base Camp accelerator programme. 

The first dedicated accelerator programme by NEAR Foundation will take a cohort of “the most promising early-stage startups” focused on building sustainable Web3 solutions to help on board the next billion users into Web3. 

With Outlier Ventures’ deep experience, the programme will provide unparalleled access to subject matter expertise as well as mentorship from leading experts with up to $100,000 (£79,800) in funding with the option of an additional $20,000 (£15,960) service credits provided by NEAR Horizon, the NEAR Foundation’s Web3 startup support platform. Applications opened on 11th May and the programme will begin in mid-July, lasting for 12 weeks.  

Founders can apply for the NEAR Base Camp accelerator programme through Outlier Ventures’ website on the application page and through the NEAR Horizon platform. Those selected for the NEAR Base Camp accelerator programme will also have access to the NEAR Horizon platform, with the option of applying for $20,000 (£15,960) in credits to cover the cost of service providers across marketing, legal, back-office finance, product and infrastructure.  

NEAR Horizon allows founders to interact with a community of support through a double sided marketplace application built on the NEAR Blockchain Operating System. The marketplace connects founders to people and organisations to help them turbocharge their growth, including over fifteen service providers, forty mentors and over three hundred backers.   

The NEAR Base Camp accelerator programme will be focused on providing solutions to building a more open web by onboarding the next billion users through an easy and simple user experience. The programme will provide bespoke support tailored to the most talented early stage teams who are building projects with real world, utility-based use cases that attract Web2 users and companies while leveraging Web3 in novel ways to enhance the web experience. 

The NEAR blockchain is an open-source, decentralised blockchain protocol that is designed to be scalable, developer-friendly, and able to support a wide range of decentralised applications (dApps) and smart contracts. NEAR has built the Blockchain Operating System (BOS), a Web3 stack to integrate experiences from across the Open Web and streamline the discovery and onboarding experience for users and developers alike.  

NEAR Foundation CEO, Marieke Flament stated: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Outlier Ventures, one of the first investors dedicated to the emerging crypto ecosystem and one of the world’s leading Web3 accelerators. Through our combined efforts, we will support the best top-notch talent in the ecosystem by giving them the tools they need to scale up their start ups sustainably, while also helping to set the pace of Web3 innovation in an open, diverse and socially impactful way.”

ISCA launches AI for AI initiative

The Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) has set aside SGD2m (US$1.5m) to fund its Artificial Intelligence for the Accountancy Industry (AI for AI) initiative. 

ISCA stresses that the accountancy profession needs to assess if AI is ‘here as a friend who will empower their work; or is here to disrupt the status quo and worse still, displace job roles’. 

The AI for AI initiative aims to bring together subject matter experts from technology companies, tertiary institutions, think tanks, the public sector as well as professional services firms in the accountancy sector and the wider business community to co-create an ecosystem that proactively examines the impact of AI on the accountancy profession and how AI can be leveraged for the betterment of the profession. 

The initiative will follow a multi-pronged approach. Firstly, ISCA will proactively identify strategic research projects by utilising the expertise of its Research Network . The Research Network consists of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). The Research Network is supported by its strategic partners – Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC, BlackLine, and Xero. 

Secondly, ISCA will foster a start-up ecosystem for the development of AI solutions specially catered for the accountancy profession. Thirdly, ISCA aims to develop strategies for accelerating AI technology adoption in the accountancy profession.

ISSB SASB Standards consultation now open

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has announced that it is seeking feedback on its proposed methodology for enhancing the international applicability of the SASB Standards

The consultation is set to be open for comments, preferably by online survey, until Wednesday 9 August 2023. Feedback on the proposed methodology will enable the ISSB to make targeted amendments to the SASB Standards to make sure references within them are internationally applicable. 

A small subset of the metrics included in the SASB Standards—around 20%—incorporate references to specific jurisdictional laws and regulations. Revising these references will help improve international applicability and remove regional bias. 

The SASB Standards serve as an important source of guidance in the ISSB’s general requirements standard (IFRS S1) by helping companies to identify sustainability-related risks and opportunities and provide appropriate disclosures beyond climate (which is addressed by IFRS S2). 

The ISSB’s objective is to revise the metrics within the SASB Standards, based on the outcomes of the consultation, prior to IFRS S1 coming into effect in January 2024. 

ISSB’s SASB standards board advisor group chair, Jeffrey Hales, said: “The increase in companies around the world voluntarily applying the SASB Standards in response to investor demand sends a strong signal about the information investors need. “Through this project, we hope to make it easier for companies to apply the SASB Standards regardless of where they operate and to help companies applying IFRS S1 produce comparable and decision-useful disclosures.”

PCAOB issues revised standard-setting agenda

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has issued a revised standard-setting agenda that includes the addition of two projects slated for short-term action. The PCAOB has also announced four new projects aimed at improving PCAOB rules to protect investors. 

The rulemaking projects focus on enhancing investor transparency and enforcement of PCAOB rules and standards. Both the standard-setting and rulemaking projects can be found on the Standard-Setting, Research, and Rulemaking Projects page. 

Commenting on this, PCAOB chair Erica Williams said: “The PCAOB is pursuing one of the most ambitious standard-setting agendas in its history, and the updates reflect the solid progress that we are making to carry out that agenda. 

“Our new rulemakings also show our commitment to making enhancements that will allow the PCAOB to execute our mission to protect investors more effectively and efficiently.” 

The following are changes related to standard-setting projects: 

Two projects moved to the agenda for short-term action: The PCAOB’s short-term list shows those standard-setting projects where a Board action (e.g., proposal or adoption) is anticipated in fewer than 12 months. The short-term list now includes Firm and Engagement Performance Metrics, which previously was listed on the PCAOB’s Research agenda. Substantive Analytical Procedures was also moved to the short-term list from the mid-term category. 

Two projects were added to the mid-term category: Mid-term projects are those projects where PCAOB staff are actively engaged but Board action is not anticipated in the next 12 months. On the mid-term list, the PCAOB added projects on Use of a Service Organisation and Interim Financial Information Reviews. 

While separate from PCAOB standards, the four new rulemakings included in this update consider how PCAOB rules could be enhanced in the following areas: firm reporting and transparency, contributory liability, follow-on disciplinary proceedings, and registration. 

Proposed changes to PCAOB rules from these rulemaking projects will go through a public notice-and-comment process to gather input from investors and other stakeholders.

IFAC releases anti-corruption tool

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has released a tool that will help professional accountancy organisations take leading roles in the anti-corruption fight in their jurisdictions. Global Fight, Local Actions: Anti-Corruption Advocacy Workbook for PAOs equips Professional Accountancy Organisations (PAOs) and accountancy profession leaders with the background and framework to craft bespoke approaches and messages that best fit their jurisdiction and needs. 

Global Fight, Local Actions was used to facilitate discussion at the annual Pan African Federation of Accountants PAO Leadership Forum as part of a workshop on anti-money laundering and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “Grey List.” The PAFA Forum was held in advance of the 2023 African Congress of Accountants, taking place this week in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 

IFAC director of policy & global engagement, Scott Hanson, commented: “PAOs and the accountancy profession are essential stakeholders at the center of the fight against corruption, in every jurisdiction, in every region. 

“Equipping our member organisations to lead anti-corruption efforts in their jurisdictions was one of our priority actions in last year’s Action Plan for Fighting Corruption and Economic Crime, which this new workbook delivers. We look forward to talking to PAOs around the world to continue helping them develop their national anti-corruption advocacy plans.” 

IFAC also plans to build off Global Fight, Local Action with additional initiatives on priority anti-corruption areas, including the interconnected issues of sustainability reporting, public financial management, and financial literacy.