Business closures over the past year necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in many back-office professionals working remotely, and APQC’s research finds that the virtual work phenomenon is expected to continue, with more and more finance professionals working in hybrid work environments (e.g., part-time in the office, part-time virtual). And as a result, many finance processes, such as closing the books, and the external audit of the financial statements, by necessity were also conducted virtually over the past year, resulting in some unanticipated challenges that had to be dealt with as well as unexpected benefits.
The external audit of the financial statements is the process by which organizations hire an independent third-party accounting/professional services firm to examine their financial records and produce the audited financial statements. In order to help finance and accounting professionals improve their process and the experience for the virtual external audit of the financial statements, APQC administered this short “quick poll” in the Spring of 2021. The poll was administered to accounting and finance professionals across industries and organizational sizes (with the exception of auditing firms, who were not included in the survey outreach). This report summarizes the survey responses of financial services/banking respondents compared to all other respondents.