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Auditors may have suffered a reputational crisis in the wake of recent corporate financial scandals; but using artificial intelligence and data analytics, the profession hopes to reinvent itself.
Auditing in the 1960s was regimented. “We had a strict dress code: Only black and white were allowed,” says Gianni Mion, who worked at chartered accountants Peat Marwick Mitchell from 1966 to 1973 before the company merged in 1987 with KMG to form KPMG—the first megamerger of large accounting firms. “Even a pale colored shirt was out of the question,” he says.
Recalling his apprenticeship at Peat Marwick Mitchell, Mion, formerly executive vice president of Edizione Holding, which manages the Benetton family’s diversified business interests, says the workload was huge. “At the beginning it was not so clear why we were doing what we were doing,” he says. “During our training, a manager from New York told us how the audit was important to defend the market and that the market was important for democracy. His speech was convincing. It gave a meaning to all the hard work we were doing. Since then, I always trusted this was the case.”