At times, Nancy Altobello was lonely when she first joined EY, the accountancy firm, in 1980. Ms Altobello, who has spent her entire career at the firm, recalls one bleak New Year’s eve spent up a ladder with a dipstick in hand, checking a company’s gas inventory.
Such tasks have all but disappeared for EY’s army of 80,000 accountants, according to Ms Altobello. The vice-chair of the firm’s talent team says: “We can use automation to assess inventory. A lot of the manual labour has really changed.”
Satellite imagery, drones, artificial intelligence and microchips are just some of the new technology accountancy firms have developed to cut time-consuming and mundane tasks, which in the past were carried out by junior auditors.
Michelle Hinchliffe, who was promoted to head of audit at KPMG in May, says the workload is very different for today’s recruits.
Read more: Technology takes the tedium out of auditing