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New Chairman and CEO of Deloitte’s Audit Practice: The Big4.com Interview

By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager

Joseph Ucuzoglu was recently named chairman and chief executive officer of Deloitte & Touche LLP’s audit practice.  He has previously served as the senior advisor to the Chief Accountant at the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and was most recently Deloitte’s national managing partner for Government, Regulatory and Professional Matters. Ucuzoglu succeeds Cathy Engelbert, who was named chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP last month. He took the time to answer some of our questions about his new position and the audit profession in general via email.

Is the audit profession at an inflection point?

It is – investors and regulators, and our clients and professionals, desire audits that evolve with the pace of change in the business landscape. We recently surveyed users and preparers of financial statements, as well as audit committee members, and found that two-thirds believe auditors should expand their scope of work to include assurance on market-moving information beyond the traditional financial statements and financial reporting controls. At the same time, stakeholders are demanding an audit process that is more timely and nimble than ever before.

In order to meet society’s expanding expectations of the independent audit, the audit profession must embrace change.  Innovation — a word that has not often been associated with audit – is a key differentiator for Deloitte.  The use of data analytics is rapidly transforming how we conduct audits, allowing us to analyze large populations of data, be more predictive about potential risks and opportunities, and provide ongoing, real-time insights to clients.

How will your past experience as national managing partner for Government, Regulatory and Professional Matters and senior advisor to the Chief Accountant at the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) work to advantage in your new role?

The audit profession operates in a highly regulated environment. Understanding this environment and its challenges and opportunities is critical for the success of a public accounting firm.  In my previous roles, I had the opportunity to build a deep understanding – from two different perspectives – of the regulatory landscape that our clients and the profession are facing.

We expect that, as a regulated audit firm, we will continue to receive some level of comments

Joseph B. Ucuzoglu

Joseph B. Ucuzoglu

as a result of the inspection process. What is important is how we react to that feedback.  We use all inspection findings as a vital input into our quality improvement processes.

We are committed to engaging constructively with our regulators in pursuit of policies that further strengthen the quality of auditing and financial reporting for the investing public.  This is an exciting time for Deloitte – we have transformed our culture around regulation and I am honored to be in a position to drive our continuous improvement and shape the audit of the future.

What challenges/opportunities do you foresee in your new role?
Technology offers a tremendous opportunity to define and deliver the audit of the future. Developments in automation, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics are already in use at Deloitte – enabling us to streamline how audits are executed and enabling our auditors to deliver broader, deeper insights. But along with the opportunity comes challenges. The skills we need in our professionals are evolving rapidly.   We are intensely focused on investing in and developing our professionals so they are at ease working with these new technologies. We are also adding new talent from different backgrounds — data scientists and computer engineers — who may not always think of audit as a career option.

What does the future hold for Deloitte’s clients?

Deloitte’s clients should expect that we will continue evolving and innovating in order to provide them with professional services of the very highest quality.

We will deploy the unrivaled expertise of professionals from across our multidisciplinary organization to analyze the significant risks that our clients face.  We will leverage the latest cutting-edge technologies in our audits.  And we will deliver candid, value-added insights in an objective and independent manner.

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