Technology Transforms Big Four Hiring Practices

By Harriet Agnew

May 9, 2016

Original article on pt.com

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The Big Four professional services firms — among the largest employers of graduates globally — are drastically rethinking their hiring practices as technology transforms the way companies are audited.

As parts of the audit process are automated, and firms embrace artificial intelligence, much of the mundane administrative work often given to entry-level employees is being eliminated. This has led to predictions of a significant fall in graduate recruitment at some of the biggest auditors.

“Over time our graduate needs are coming down,” said Steve Varley, chairman and managing partner for the UK and Ireland at EY. “We hired 650 graduates in 2010 and 1,200 graduates in 2015. Given the rate at which technology is speeding up audit, that number could drop by 50 percent in 2020.”

Firms will no longer need armies of junior staff but instead will need the best algorithm design geeks in the world– Jim Peterson, accounting specialist

At the same time, the increasing adoption of technology means graduates with skills in areas such as data analytics and computer sciences are in high demand.

Over the medium term, the hiring model of the professional services firms will change dramatically, according to Jim Peterson, a US-based accounting specialist and author. “Firms will no longer need armies of junior staff but instead will need the best algorithm design geeks in the world” he said. “They will audit large companies with a team that can fit into a conference room, rather than occupying an entire office tower.”

As firms embrace data analytics, a big challenge is making sure they have the right balance of skills.

 

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