29 Apr How IT and accountancy are inextricably linked
How IT and accountancy are inextricably linked
29 April, 2021
IT is becoming increasingly important in our daily lives. Digitalisation and automation facilitate efficiency and convenience in a company. Changing processes also has consequences for auditing the financial statements. And the wealth of data collected offers many opportunities for optimisation. Lucas Vousten, accountant and partner at Joanknecht, was one of the first in the firm to train as an IT auditor. Joey Sweegers, who started as an assistant accountant six years ago, has now also started this training. “It’s an interesting and rapidly changing world,” says Joey.
Joanknecht’s partners decided to focus more on IT over a decade ago. “I felt all eyes were immediately on me,” Lucas recalls. “I’ve had a thing about automation ever since I was a child. So it was a quick choice to make; I decided to train as an IT auditor.” The IT team now consists of ten people. Joey’s interest in IT has developed over time. “I started as an assistant accountant and discovered I enjoyed helping clients set up and run processes,” he explains. “IT plays an increasingly important role in this.”
The IT service provision is two-fold: assurance and IT services. “IT is a standard part of auditing financial statements. Before we sign, we obviously want to be sure that a system is reliable,” says Lucas. Expressing an opinion on an IT environment is part of assurance and is also called an IT audit. Business owners can also use our IT services. “Then we try to give clients a better idea of the possibilities of IT,” explains Lucas. This can include security or data analysis capabilities. “We can hack legally, for example, to see if we can penetrate a system,” he continues.
The IT world has become more complex over the years. Lucas: “Almost all companies still had an internal IT department ten years ago. Now they often work with external providers and cloud solutions. That creates a different dynamic.” Working from home has now been added to the mix. “When employees work remotely, it affects things like company data security,” Lucas explains.
“I feel like a bridge between the worlds of IT and accountancy” ~ Joey Sweegers
To help business owners further with all these aspects, Joanknecht has a diverse IT team. “Everyone has different capabilities, so we complement each other,” says Joey. “I know a lot about the process side, for instance, while another colleague focuses more on the technical aspects. Lucas knows both sides well and therefore keeps an overall view of things,” he continues. Few people are dual-qualified as registered accountants and IT auditors. “That’s not necessary either. The teams work closely together in that respect,” notes Joey. “But I really like having the knowledge at my fingertips. It makes it easier for me to see the big picture.” Lucas adds: “Accountants often use the output of applications for auditing financial statements. Conversely, the figures also affect the process in a company.”
Joey: “I feel like a bridge between both worlds.” Lucas and Joey also both have a background in business economics. “In this way, we can truly help business owners with the total package,” says Joey. Lucas continues: “First, we help business owners get a handle on their business and then we give them insights for the future.” Among other things, big data plays a role in this. Joey: “New and existing clients increasingly see the value of the data they collect. They can use these data to optimise their processes, for example.”
“Before we sign, we obviously want to be sure that a system is reliable” ~ Lucas Vousten
Lucas hopes to use even more technology in future. “We could put a device the size of a smartphone in a company’s network, for instance. Audit information can be sifted here first,” he explains. “The client can spot something that isn’t right quicker, enabling us to look for a solution together earlier. In fact, this is like an alarm system that automatically reports any unexpected events.” Joey adds: “With old audit methods, we would only see afterwards if something had gone wrong. Now we can react quicker. And using the data collected, we can even look ahead a little to avoid problems.”