5G, data privacy, dual employment, crypto, cybercrime will create multiple job opportunities for CAs says Forensic Partner at EY, India
Harshavardhan Godugula, Partner for Forensic & Integrity services at E&Y India shares why there is going to be a huge demand for forensic auditors, and CAs should genuinely consider this profession.
- As Digital transformation is reinventing the corporate world, the report from EY ‘Reshaping the future of compliance with emerging technologies’ explains what to expect from it.
- The report reveals how the emergence of new forms of cyberattacks, business email compromise, and phishing would result in huge demand for forensic technology.
- For our Finance: 2022 and Beyond Series powered by Qapita - CapTable & ESOP Management Platform, we approached Harshavardhan Godugula, Forensic & Integrity Services Partner at Ernst & Young India (EY India) to understand this subject better.
What are the emerging areas where finance professionals can play a key role?
My team and I are dedicated to data be it data management, compliance, effective usage and process improvement.
Practically, this translates into support services in data analytics, cyber incident response, privacy management, data governance, eDiscovery, and compliance management.
Traditionally, Chartered Accountants (CAs) have been focusing on the core finance functionalities such as accounting, auditing and tax management.
However, in the last four years, things changed dramatically because of the amount of data we are generating and the number of processes we are conducting. This has given rise to new ways of working.
Now the important point is to understand the nuances present in the data, uncover each of those processes; from assessing and certifying the data, to using it in generating dashboards.
They cannot just take this data and handle it inadequately because that will lead to trust issues with all relevant stakeholders - customers, vendors, etc. Hence Chartered Accountants and finance professionals should embrace new technologies that will help them better analyze the storage and handling of data.
With the advent of work from home means the basic way of doing business, interacting with colleagues or analyzing the data, happens remotely now.
It is worth mentioning that almost every country is enacting Data Privacy Laws. This will be complex to navigate and every cyber security professional needs to be aware of it all the time.
Hence, they should also be proficient in cybersecurity, private data, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data, protected information as well as confidential information to name but a few.
These are interesting emerging areas where finance professionals can play a key role.
How can CAs and other finance professionals upskill themselves to build a career in Forensics?
At EY, I have seen many teams containing CAs or finance professionals performing tremendously well with the help of technology. They have won innovation awards and developed market-leading assets of their own. They are quickly adapting.
To answer your question, start by learning the basics of structured and unstructured data.
Some examples of structured data would be all the databases or ERP systems, and unstructured data includes your emails or Word documents.
How are you going to gather everything in one location and understand it better? The team should adapt quickly to these - without a doubt.
Previously the methods were sample-based, but now they should ensure that the data and transactions are valid, so they can conduct the forensic audit properly.
In Forensics, the reality is that every case is brand new.
One needs to understand various aspects of blockchain, working knowledge of what is trending in the market, such as cryptocurrency and smart contracts, and relevant ethical aspects because investigation might contain those things.
One should try to analyze how the company is using artificial intelligence (AI) to detect any wrongdoing.
It is of vital importance that you get the hang of cyber, data analytics and privacy laws if you have chosen the profession of forensics.
Forensic Auditors will need to visualize and present data. This learning process is in increasing order of complexities.
I think these are the basics that today’s professionals have to understand not only to build a career in Forensics but also to use data, understand it well and provide an effective report.
How is EY moving forward in accordance with the digital era?
Security is of paramount importance at E&Y.
That is why around 3 or 4 years ago, we made a significant investment in technology globally. Today, we have a platform called EY Virtual.
Clients can interact with us securely because of this and the platform helped us drive the business during the pandemic.
What we discovered in forensics is that every client has a unique problem. For example, if there is an issue or a gap, we have to fix it quickly after our review. Therefore, we came up with a platform that will allow us to do it. It now takes lesser time to fix the problem.
EY Virtual delivers around 100+ compliance applications to clients. The platform helps our clients solve compliance issues such as fraud and misappropriation of funds efficiently and effectively.
This platform helps us understand and solve clients’ problems quickly, while still delivering a secure solution that will not be an issue or a threat to the clients’ data.
Should young finance professionals look at forensic accounting as a possible career option?
Absolutely! While working from home has given us many advantages; we are encountering many issues because of it.
Of course, there are effective ways of conducting businesses but there are also new ways of committing frauds, data misuse and data leakage.
Another new term that we can hear nowadays is dual employment, which was unheard of when people were generally working at the office.
With all these coming up, there is a huge requirement for forensic auditors and people with an investigative mindset.
Before the arrival of 4G, consumption of smartphones was minimal, maybe just for emails. However, 4G has changed the app market drastically.
Similarly, we will soon see the trend of 5G. There will be multiple usages of blockchain, AI-related applications and automation.
Furthermore, the usage of 5G, IoT and other technologies will increase data consumption. This means that there will be a huge requirement to audit these data sets. Therefore, forensics is one of the lucrative professions out there in my opinion.
About 3-4 years ago, people started saying things like “technology will take our jobs away”.
Contrary to popular belief, I have not seen anyone losing his or her job because of RPA. Instead, we have more businesses now and effective ways to serve clients. Thus, there is a great opportunity.
Do not be worried, upskill yourself.