More than half of accounting professionals from Chinese accounting firms report that their companies have developed digitalisation strategies and implementation roadmaps.

Furthermore, 83% report their firm is using digital technologies in their auditing processes, according to new joint research released by International Business School Suzhou at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University and CPA Australia.

The newly released ‘Study on Implementation of Digital Technology across Chinese Accounting Firms’ reveals that, in six key audit phases, the number of respondents opting to utilise ‘artificial intelligence (AI) technology’ is higher than the number who apply other digital technologies.

Most respondents believe that applying digital technologies has improved audit efficiency and accuracy (78%) and strengthened data analysis and mining capabilities (54%).

International Business Suchool Suzhou at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University dean, Jorg Bley, said: “As AI advancements continue to move on a steep upward trajectory, digital transformations are taking place among different sectors and industries. This has created an exciting and yet challenging context for the accounting profession. This report is highly topical as it investigates digital implementation by accounting firms in China. 

“We hope that businesses and accounting professionals can benefit from the findings of this report and be well prepared for their career in this digitally transforming and rigorously shifting accounting landscape.”

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The research indicates that the role of accounting professionals in auditing is irreplaceable, despite many benefits brought by AI technology and other digital auditing technologies in data processing and analysis.

The research shows that the application of digital technologies in the audit opinion phase is significantly lower than in other five audit phases (client investigation and assessment, risk assessment, control testing, substantive testing, and analytical procedures). Additionally, 52 per cent of respondents believe that the impact of digital technologies on providing audit opinions is limited.

CPA Australia’s East and Central China committee member, David Wang, further said: “Industries with substantial data and advanced digital infrastructure, such as finance, manufacturing, retail, and technology, are easier to adopt digital auditing technologies. While in other industries like utilities, farming and fishing, digital technologies are barely used in auditing. When it comes to business size, implementing digital auditing in businesses with fewer than 100 employees is proving to be quite challenging.

“Further, many recently announced international and domestic accounting standards have also emphasised the pivotal role of accounting professionals. These professionals are instrumental in applying intricate regulations to diverse business models, enabling them to conduct audit procedures and provide insightful audit opinions to key stakeholders.”