AI Digital Assistant ‘AiDA’ for auditors is now in Australia

Jul 18 2024

Meet Caseware AiDA, an artificial intelligence digital assistant changing the face of audit and accounting.  As the latest enhancement to the industry-leading Caseware Cloud platform, AiDA complements Caseware’s comprehensive suite of solutions tailored for accounting, audit, and finance professionals.

AiDA, with its user-friendly interface and intuitive design, is designed to enhance efficiency, ensure compliance, and provide precise, context-aware responses to profession-specific enquiries. It empowers accounting, audit, and finance experts to work more efficiently, collaborate more effectively, and gain deeper insights. 

Whether responding to methodology or compliance questions promptly, supporting the processing and analysis of audit evidence, or assisting with producing key audit work papers and deliverables, AiDA empowers professional users to achieve more with less effort. This will, in turn, drive practice growth and power clients’ financial success.

David Osborne, Chief Executive Officer at Caseware International, remarked,

Caseware AiDA is the future. Our vision is to place powerful tools in the hands of our clients, enabling them to do their work better than they have ever done before. This release is just the beginning of a wave of innovation in AI, and it demonstrates the focus we have on our accelerated roadmap to build out our offering on the Caseware Cloud platform. Caseware AiDA offers powerful digital assistance to accountants and is further proof of how Caseware underpins the relevance of the profession.

The benefits of Caseware AiDA include:

  • Enhanced workflow efficiency with precision and relevance – whether summarising lengthy PDFs or providing informed answers about your documentation, AiDA helps you work smarter, not harder.
  • Reassurance around security and compliance – with AiDA, no prompts are stored or fed back into the model. Users can trust AiDA to maintain the highest data security and compliance standards that Caseware has consistently delivered for the profession.
  • Assistance with routine tasks – AiDA assists with mundane tasks, enabling professionals to focus on strategic decision-making. 
  • Focus on quality output – AiDA delivers a safe and fit-for-purpose resource that ensures efficient workflows for clients.

Feedback on AiDA has underscored the demand for tailored, secure AI solutions in professional environments. Danielle Supkis Cheek, VP, Head of Analytics and AI at Caseware International, commented,

We recently showcased AiDA to several clients beyond our beta phase community at Caseware’s 2024 North American User Group. The response was phenomenal, and, in line with our roadmap, we’re excited to continue to enhance AiDA based on user feedback and technological advancements.

Danielle Supkis Cheek, VP, Head of Analytics and AI at Caseware International

Following its successful release in the United States, AiDA is now available in Australia, followed by Canada and Europe later this year. But this is just the beginning. AiDA’s capabilities will constantly evolve, including better context awareness in document interactions and more extensive support for multilingual queries. Get ready for a future where AiDA transforms how accounting and audit professionals manage tasks, offering unparalleled support and efficiency. 

Caseware AiDA (pronounced AY-duh) draws inspiration from Ada Lovelace, whose impact on scientific computing continues to influence generations of technologists and mathematicians worldwide. Caseware encourages users to explore AiDA’s features and experience the future of digital assistance. To see AiDA in action, watch this recording with Sarah Butler, Head of Product and Global Solutions Lead – GenAI, to experience the future of digital assistance.

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An Executive View: 2024 Accounting Trends

Jun 26 2024

Accountants are witnessing an era of unprecedented change in their industry, from the rise of new technologies to the ongoing challenges around talent acquisition and retention.

The latest installment of Caseware’s An Executive View video interview series helps practitioners make sense of these top trends of 2024. Join Caseware CEO David Osborne and special guest Jim Bourke, Partner and Managing Director, Advisory Services at Withum, as they offer their insights and advice around such topics as:

  • The talent test – How is the industry dealing with the still-pressing challenge of attracting and retaining the talent they need to prosper in the modern age? The speakers offer their analysis of the situation and discuss solutions that can ease the pressure, both in the short and long terms.
  • Growth of client advisory services – Today’s clients are looking for more than simple tax and audit services. Find out how firms can respond to these diverse demands and become proficient at providing strategic guidance in an increasingly complex financial and regulatory environment.
  • Tech developments – Get an inside perspective from these two thought leaders on how exciting new technologies such as generative AI, automation software and Dynamic Audit Solution (DAS) are revolutionising the field and enabling previously unthought-of possibilities.

Both David and Jim were named to Accounting Today’s recent list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting. You won’t want to miss their conversation!

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2024 State of Accounting Firms Trends Report

Feb 07 2024

Caseware’s 2024 State of Accounting Firms Trends Report – available now – offers accounting professionals a timely and informative look at what’s happening in the industry on a host of today’s most important topics. 

This comprehensive report is the result of a global survey conducted from September to October 2023, gathering insights from thousands of industry practitioners worldwide. The survey covered key trends in accounting, such as rapidly emerging technologies like generative AI, the ongoing talent procurement and retention situation, as well as how new laws and regulations are affecting operations.

Get your free copy of the report today to:

  • Discover the latest developments on such key issues as hiring and retaining talent, adopting new technologies and the growth of client advisory services
  • See what the biggest practice management challenges are for accounting firms as the new year begins 
  • Get timely insights on key trends from accounting industry experts and practitioners

Now more than ever, it’s imperative that accounting professionals understand the forces of change affecting the future of accounting – from the changing nature of how work gets done, to the rise of intelligent technologies that are making what was previously impossible, possible, to the shifting expectations of clients and the new services that are developing to meet them, to the continued growth of both Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) factors. 

Caseware’s third-annual State of Accounting Firms Trends Report helps practices make sense of these developments and provides useful insights to help them confidently manage the obstacles and opportunities that await them in the year ahead – and beyond.

Some of the key questions covered in-depth in the report include:

  • What is today’s biggest challenge confronting accounting firms? 
  • What kinds of firms will experience the biggest growth in technology adoption over the next year?
  • Is the challenge of hiring and retaining talent getting easier to manage, or will it continue to persist into 2024?

Ensure your practice is prepared for whatever change the future may hold. Download your free copy of the 2024 State of Accounting Firms Trends Report to glean more insights on these and other accounting trends.

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Audit Planning & Risk Assessment

Jan 18 2024

Let’s examine some of the recommended requirements for the Audit Planning & Risk Assessment external audit phase.

The importance of robust pre-engagement acceptance procedures is clear. An auditor who takes on an engagement that they are either ill-equipped to perform, or are prohibited from performing under relevant legislation or professional standards, can expose the firm to a variety of risks including litigation and reputational.

David Stevens, independent audit consultant & Caseware’s expert content provider.

Audit Engagement File Setup

Ensuring compliance with all relevant Australian Auditing Standards (‘ASAs’) and legislation, while still performing efficient, quality audits can be hard work. ‘Death by checklist’ is a very real concern for all auditors! This has been cleverly addressed with smart technology used in Caseware’s Agile Audit.

    • The Optimiser assists you to define the entity and tailors the content so only the relevant ASAs and legislation are included in the workpapers throughout the file.
    • Smart procedures within key planning documents offer documentation options, making it quick and easy to tailor the workpapers to suit the specific engagement.
    • The built-in integrations import and map client data to leadsheets, materiality, ratio calculations, and the powerful Risk Assessment Report.

Preliminary Engagement Activities

To help your planning process pre-audit, Agile Audit has:

  • A smart pre-engagement checklist that address the requirements of ASQC 1 and ASA 220.
  • A template Engagement Letter (based on the example in ASA 210 appendix) and a placeholder option for easy and consistent filing of the signed letter.

Planning the Audit Engagement

On planning an audit, Dave Stevens advises:

“One of the key auditing standard objectives of an audit is to plan it so that it will be performed in an effective manner. A broader business objective of the audit firm is for an audit to also be performed in an efficient manner. Measure twice, cut once.

Investing sufficient time to understand the entity and assess identified risks will enable the audit team to devote the resources necessary to tackle risk areas of the audit, and reduce over-auditing in less risky audit areas. The benefits of a well-planned audit in the current period will also have positive implications for subsequent audit engagements.” 

Agile Audit allows auditors to efficiently and effectively document their understanding, their consideration of risk areas, and their overall audit strategy plan.

Features such as:

  • Concise ‘Understanding the Entity’ worksheets assist with all relevant considerations required by ASA 240 and 315. 
  • The Risk and Controls modules enables easy recording and referencing of identified risks and controls to the planned audit work that will assess and address each.
  • The Risk Assessment Report provides a powerful visual snapshot of each financial statement area and the resulting assessments.

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Removal of Grandfathering under the Corporations Act – Issues to consider

Jan 18 2024

There has been a number of discussions recently about the removal of grandfathering under the Corporations Act 2001 (the Act), in this article we are going to look at what has happened and what does it mean as well as answering some frequently asked questions and providing some resources.

What was grandfathering?

The concept of grandfathering (exempting) certain companies from lodging their financial statements with ASIC was introduced as part of an amendment to the Corporations Act in 1995. A grandfathered company was a large proprietary company that met certain criteria including being large since 1995 and have their financial statements audited for all financial years since 1995.

These grandfathered companies had to prepare and have audited their financial statements in accordance with their ‘large proprietary status’ however this information was not put on the public record due to the relief from lodgement.

What has happened?

On 5 August 2022, the Treasury Law Amendment (2022 Measures No. 1) Act 2022 (‘the Act’) was passed by both Houses of Parliament and received royal assent on 10 August 2022.

This Act repealed the 1995 instrument providing grandfathering which means that entities who have had relief from lodgement for 27 years will now their financial information available for inspection through the ASIC registers.

This legislation is effective on a prospective basis immediately and therefore grandfathered companies with a financial year ending on or after 10 August 2022 will not be eligible for lodgement relief (30 June 2022 financial years do not have to lodge).

What changes for these grandfathered companies?

Under the exemption, grandfathered companies were required to prepare financial statements as if they were lodging and have these financial statements audited and therefore the only thing that changes is the lodging on the public record with ASIC of these financial statements.

Frequently asked questions

As discussed above, the only change for grandfathered companies is that they will have to lodge their financial statements on the public record, however we have received a number of questions around these companies which we have answered below – note that the answers assume a 30 June year end.

Are there any issues if the grandfathered company takes advantage of the reporting extension of one month at 30 June 2022 in relation to preparation and audit of their financial statements?

We understand that due to the method in which the grandfathering provisions were amended, if a former grandfathered company does not complete the preparation and audit of the 30 June 2022 financial statements by 31 October 2022 then they will lose the grandfathering for 30 June 2022 and will be required to lodge these financial statements.

Does the former grandfathered company have to lodge general purpose or special purpose financial statements at 30 June 2023?

The former grandfathered company has a legislative requirement to prepare financial statements in accordance with Accounting Standards and therefore in accordance with AASB 1053 Application of Tiers of Australian Accounting Standards, general purpose financial statements will be lodged.

Is there transitional relief at 30 June 2023 for a former grandfathered company moving to general purpose for the first time?

Under AASB 1053, the former grandfathered company should have prepared general purpose financial statements for financial years ending on or after 30 June 2022.

The company should not be preparing general purpose financial statements for the first time at 30 June 2023.

Does the former grandfathered company have to restate the 30 June 2022 financial statements?

Under AASB 1053, the former grandfathered company should have prepared general purpose financial statements for financial years ending on or after 30 June 2022 and should have restated the 30 June 2021 comparatives in those financial statements.

If the financial statements are being audited for the first time, are there any implications?

Companies taking advantage of the grandfathering provisions prior to 30 June 2023 were required to be audited and therefore this is a breach of the Act and therefore the company (and its auditor) will need to consider their reporting obligations to ASIC.

What if the former grandfathered company prepared special purpose financial statements at 30 June 2022?

As noted above, grandfathered companies were required to prepare (and have audited) financial statements in accordance with the Act, i.e., general purpose from 30 June 2022.

If the 30 June 2022 financial statements were special purpose then this is a breach of the Act, and the company (and its auditor) will need to consider their reporting obligations to ASIC.

What if the former grandfathered company is not going to lodge their audited financial statements?

If the grandfathered company is not going to lodge their audited financial statements for financial years ending on or after 10 August 2022 then this is a breach of the Act, and the company (and its auditor) will need to consider their reporting obligations to ASIC.

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Why Accountants Shouldn’t Use Email for Client Collaboration

May 29 2023

There’s a famous Maya Angelou quote: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” This can apply to most things in life, and the digital age of accounting is no exception. 

There was a time when email was revolutionary, lightning-fast compared to other methods of communication. It would have seemed like a wonder for client accounting collaboration. Today, however, there are many options that are faster, more secure and much easier to organize. 

So if you know better, why not do better? Here are a few reasons why accountants shouldn’t use email as their client collaboration software.

A brief history of email

The internet was not always as common as it is now. In the early 1980s, most forms of communication involved writing letters or calling someone by phone. And paying extra if they lived outside your area code. 

The idea of sending a message instantly to anyone, anywhere, from your computer seemed futuristic. But it quickly became common, revolutionizing communication through the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Email removed geographical barriers. It was as fast as digitization. It was reasonably secure, appearing in your online mailbox and able to be deleted when read. At the time, it was simply the most efficient form of communication for accountants to reach out to their clients and for clients to respond in their own time. 

Today, however, it’s one of many forms of digital communication. Instant messaging, in-app communication, online video chats, and more are all at our fingertips. The idea of sending accounting email to a digital inbox simply isn’t world-changing anymore. Nor is it the most efficient option.

Problems with email collaboration

Alright, so email might be a little old-fashioned by now. But why change if it’s served you well for years? If it’s not broken, why fix it? 

The truth is,  using email as a client collaboration tool is problematic. It’s always come with its own issues, but there weren’t better solutions at the time. Now that there are, some of those issues are more glaring.

Security

Most of us have either at one point had our email hacked or we’ve received a message from a friend whose email was hacked. These unfortunate events occur because, quite simply, email is not secure. Email messages aren’t encrypted. As long as a hacker can figure out your password, they can get into your email and access all your messages, and even start sending sensitive information via email themselves. 

Email scams are common, as well as viruses sent through email. Digital security in accounting is an absolute must in today’s world. If you want a truly secure form of client collaboration, an encrypted, in-app style of messaging is usually the best.

Organization

When file-sharing with clients over email, it’s easy for important messages to get lost in the shuffle. Of course, most email servers come with built-in folders for organization. But even then, with so many folders it can be difficult to remember which email went where and all too easy to sort something into the wrong folder. 

One famously problematic issue is the spam folder. This is built into almost all email servers and designed to catch junk email. The problem is that the algorithm that recognizes junk sometimes gets it wrong. If a client is emailing you for the first time, their email can often end up in the spam folder. That important notice you sent to them could do the same on their end. 

On the other hand, cloud-based platforms like Caseware can allow for easy, centralized communication where nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Clients can receive email notifications that they have a message. But even if they lose that email, the message itself will be easy to find in the app. 

Data and analytics

Client communication can be an important source of data and analytics. Clients need to send over important documents about their finances and business that you may need in order to help them with their accounting needs. 

Losing that information through a mass of emails can be more than frustrating. It can slow down your process and lead to a poor rapport with the client. Again, this is where a more centralized, organized option can better serve you and your clients.

Time-wasting

Reviewing multiple emails takes time. Especially if you have to review all the attachments to one and then find the next relevant email through a sea of such messages from all clients. Plus, most email servers will only hold so many emails. At some point, you have to start deleting important messages to make room for more. Your best hope is setting up paper files.

Imagine if all of your communication with one client was in one central location, including all of their documents. And you could easily shift from one communication to the next. Fortunately, this is more than just an idea. It’s very much a possibility with cloud platforms like Caseware PBC Requests. 

Making email collaboration obsolete

Email has its place in the history of accounting and client collaboration. Today, however, more efficient options have simply made it obsolete. 

PBC Requests is just the latest from Caseware’s suite of cloud-based accounting solutions. With PBC Requests, you can communicate with clients easily from a central, encrypted location for optimized organization and security. 

You can manage client requests with automatic tracking and send real-time status updates so you’re always on the ball. Keep all your client communication in one place and send messages individually or to all your clients in bulk.

It’s easier than ever to integrate and review new documents from clients and to automatically designate where they’ll go within your platform. Plus, there’s customizable content so you can easily meet your firm’s, and your client’s, specific needs. 

Want to learn more about how Caseware PBC Requests can help revolutionize your accounting client communication? Contact us today for more information. 

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The Benefits of Moving Your Accounting Practice to the Cloud

May 04 2023

With the pace of business moving faster than ever and client expectations at an all-time high, accounting practices are under pressure to find new operational efficiencies.

A new Caseware white paper, titled The Benefits of Moving Your Accounting Practice to the Cloud, examines how the cloud computing model is helping firms streamline their work and unlock new savings — both in time and money. This revolutionary approach is enabling easier engagement management, improved time-tracking and higher client satisfaction rates, among many other benefits.

Read the white paper today and discover how cloud:

  • Differs from traditional practice management technologies
  • Eliminates repetitive, tedious processes
  • Helps bring in new business
  • Can be adopted at a pace that’s right for any firm

As the white paper shows, running a highly efficient accounting practice is no easy task. Challenges exist around every corner: keeping track of hundreds of client files across multiple engagements; making sure staff are tracking their time accurately; waiting for client responses while the clock is ticking toward a deadline; watching work grind to a halt due to unplanned server downtime.

Dealing with these issues costs precious time, impacting everything from team morale to the all-important bottom line. They have, unfortunately, been an inescapable reality for years.

Now, however, the concept of cloud computing is helping many firms put these nagging problems behind them for good. Cloud computing-based technology offers an innovative approach that delivers newfound savings and efficiencies, and provides easier customization capabilities for all types and sizes of organizations. 

The Benefits of Moving Your Accounting Practice to the Cloud will describe the improvements the cloud model makes on traditional approaches. It will also take an in-depth look at the main benefits of moving to the cloud, including time savings, which can be used to carry out work that was previously eaten up by repetitive and tedious processes.

Finally, the paper will describe the hybrid model of cloud computing, an approach that allows for gradual cloud adoption, rather than having to make a full transition. 

Complete the form on the right to download your copy of the white paper!

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The Top Benefits of Cloud-based Accounting

Apr 24 2023

More and more accounting practices are turning to the cloud for improved efficiency, cost savings and collaboration capabilities. For example, recent research found that 87 percent of accountants intend to use some type of cloud technology for their engagement management work over the next two years.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting firms, like most organizations, were forced to work remotely. This meant team members had to find new ways to work together on projects and to collaborate remotely with clients. Cloud accounting solutions helped many accountants overcome this challenge, and as firms emerge from the pandemic, the cloud continues to allow teams to work collaboratively from wherever they happen to be — at the office, at home or at a client’s site.

Practices that have adopted the cloud model save time, work more seamlessly as a team and are able to access files and key data more easily.

A new Caseware white paper, The Benefits of Moving Your Accounting Practice to the Cloud, takes an in-depth look at the key factors that are driving widespread cloud migration. Let’s look at a few that this valuable asset covers:

Better client collaboration

For years, accountants and their clients have collaborated by email. If you needed a file, you sent an email message to your client and they would respond by emailing back the appropriate document. This system worked better than shuffling heavy boxes stuffed with paper files back and forth, but the cloud offers new levels of collaboration and security.

Through the cloud, you can create client portals which allow you and your clients to collaborate on files and communicate in real time, securely. If you and a client are both working on a file in the cloud, you can see changes as they occur without needing to worry if you’re working on the most recent version. You can also message clients through a cloud portal and see their responses in a single thread, ensuring you don’t miss any responses.

A more secure environment

Cloud environments are typically secured through passwords, user access controls and multi-factor authentication. User access controls are crucial because they restrict access to important data. Only users who are approved to access particular files by the person controlling cloud security (often a system administrator) can see them.

This helps you keep sensitive information secure. User access controls are also helpful during audits because they allow you to restrict access to only those accountants working on the audit, preventing potential conflicts of interest.

Superior insights

The cloud gives you one central repository for all your files and documents. This means you don’t have to search multiple drives to find the information you’re looking for. All the information you need is in one location.

You can save years, or even decades, of data and engagement files in the cloud. And because all your data is in one location, you can easily apply analytics solutions to your data, helping you better identify trends, establish benchmarks and identify potential risks.

Equip yourself for tomorrow’s challenges

The cloud is playing a crucial role in accounting practices, helping them work better with clients, support hybrid work models and deliver more insights. If you’re interested in shifting to the cloud, but are worried about disrupting your existing processes, you can take a more gradual approach by moving to a hybrid cloud model that combines your familiar desktop applications with cloud capabilities. Whichever cloud approach you take, you’ll be making your practice more efficient and competitive.

For a more detailed examination of how the cloud can help you get an edge on your competitors, download your FREE copy of the Caseware white paper, The Benefits of Moving Your Accounting Practice to the Cloud.

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