“It foundationally changes the recruiting and preparation of auditors with the right skills to analyze the vast volumes of information produced by today’s business organizations,” said Scott Marcello, KPMG’s vice chair for audit.
Data analytics has re-engineered the audit process. Accountants can now test entire data sets, such as expense claims, rather than extrapolating samples. This has increased efficiency and streamlined processes, ultimately improving the quality of audits.
But it’s brought a new-found zest for accountants who are trained in analytics as well as traditional bookkeeping skills — financial reporting, taxation and managerial finance.
KPMG’s Scott said the new degree, developed with the US’s Fisher College of Business and Villanova School of Business, and to be launched in 2017, “starts real action toward meeting our profession’s great demand for talent”.
Confirming the company’s need for accountants who can crunch data, KPMG says it will pay the full tuition, room and board for 50 students. They’ll work between semesters as KPMG audit interns. Upon graduation in the summer of 2018, the students will join KPMG’s audit practice through an advanced entry program.
Daniel Wright, vice dean of Villanova School of Business, suggested this arrangement is the first of its kind.
The KPMG Master of Accounting with Data and Analytics course combines practical use of the latest analytics technology and data sets, as well as real-world experience using the firm’s proprietary tools in the classroom and as members of KPMG audit teams.
“Strong partnerships between leading companies and top academic institutions are essential to building an agile workforce equipped to meet today’s business challenges,” said Anil Makhija, dean of the Fisher College of Business.
This is not the first time KPMG has turned to academia to help fulfil its technological needs. Last year, it pumped £20 million into a data science center and masters of business analytics degree at London’s Imperial College Business School.