Helping our clients navigate COVID-19’s choppy waters

Like most businesses during these challenging times, Caseware Africa’s main focus has been on maintaining our ability to continue servicing our existing clients, who depend on us to run their businesses.
In pursuit of that goal, we successfully moved our entire workforce offsite ahead of the national lockdown. Our cloud-first strategy has served us well, as the cloud is not only how we deliver our new generation of software to clients, it’s also how we empower our own teams with the tools to build our software and serve our clients. As a result, our software design and development has continued virtually without a break, something that’s very important to us—we know our clients depend on our software to automate key processes, and rely on us to keep their software up-to-date in respect of complying with local regulations and global compliance standards. In short, our clients can continue to receive the support they need on their current products, but they can also be confident that our teams are continuing to work hard in creating the new products that will reimagine existing experiences entirely on the cloud.

Another initiative has been to increase the number of webinars and online training courses for clients, especially those who are working remotely. These cover a range of useful topics, and we see them as an additional service to clients who may be facing specific challenges at the moment, or who may find themselves with extra time on their hands. While we are proud of the response we have been able to make as a company in order to serve our clients, we are also very aware of some significant challenges.

The first relates to our clients, particularly those in the accounting and auditing worlds as well as corporate finance teams. While they can work remotely with great success, their clients are often not in the same position. Many types of work cannot be done remotely—think of mines, retailers, manufacturers, to name a few. Many are clients of our clients, and they are obviously experiencing huge suffering. We and our clients are part of this value chain, and its pain affects us all. This general economic malaise—and all the experts say it will be severe—is not only posing a challenge to existing value chains, it is also reducing the potential for creating new ones. However well prepared we and our clients are, finding new business is likely to be a problem for the foreseeable future across all sectors for the economy. Another hurdle we all face is the management of remote teams. Providing them with the right tools to work with is one thing, keeping them motivated and collaborating with colleagues is quite another. Managers will have to acquire new skills.

These are tough times for all of us, businesses and individuals. With the help of technology and our famous South African resilience, we are finding ways to survive and eventually prosper.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, Caseware Africa, a division of Adapt IT. Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology.  He spent 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA.  Christiaan joined the Adapt IT group in 2019 where he currently leads the product group for the Caseware Africa division.

How Connected Data Benefits Financial Accountants

Connected data in accounting software vastly benefits modern accounting teams. But what is connected data, anyway? It is simpler than it sounds, and we use it every day.

Connected data in software applications allows users to reuse data across other different software applications, which is extremely beneficial for accountants who perform a wide variety of functions.

Accountants who use Caseware’s suite of products, for example, can reuse single-sourced data in many of Caseware’s other products.

Connected data allows all enterprise data to be connected to and accessible from a centralized source. This can be a software suite of two or more applications where data can be easily exchanged between platforms, a well-known example of which is Microsoft Office 365. Often, programs in the suite feature a similar graphical interface and common navigation conventions, allowing users to easily use new software in the suite.

Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, well-known software applications in the Microsoft Office 365 suite of products, share a very common user interface, and data can be easily exchanged between platforms. This improves the user experience as individual users are able to do more with the software they purchased.

Enterprises with connected data often use a large number of software applications, and they have many different suites targeted to different professions and purposes. Some well-known examples of these software suites include:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • G Suite
  • LibreOffice

The Benefits of Connected Data

Connected Data is also important for the software company itself producing the software, and connected data is pertinent to the success of a software company for the following reasons:

Greater Opportunities for Innovation

Connectivity in software suites enables software companies to make great innovations. With complementation from other previously existing software, new software can be easily created to perform new kinds of functions. As a result, a new software in a suite, especially software for a specific industry, can easily be created.

If new software is being built, the process can be made faster if UI and programming elements can be reused rather than made from scratch.

A Better Experience for Users

A product suite that allows data to be transferred saves the time-consuming process of having to re-import data manually when using completely different software products. Instead, data can be single-sourced to allow for a seamless transition between software. For example, Caseware imported data from Working Papers can be reused throughout Caseware’s suite of products. For example, Caseware data imported from Working Papers can be reused throughout Caseware’s suite of products.

Artificial Intelligence

An important topic when discussing the impact of connected data is a software company’s ability to provide AI services. Artificial Intelligence is gaining prominence in the software industry because of the competitive advantage it provides within the industry. AI software can pull data from a variety of individual software and use that data to perform highly advanced functions that would be difficult for standard software perform.

There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is changing the software industry.Caseware AnalyticsAI, for example, makes it easier to perform analysis in any engagement by incorporating automated testing into established workflows.

These days, you can’t have a conversation on connected data without discussing cloud-based data.

Adapt IT International awarded prestigious MQA certification

Mauritius Tuesday 11th January, 2022:

Adapt IT International, the Mauritius-based subsidiary of Adapt IT Holdings Limited, has been certified as a Registered Training Institution by the Mauritius Qualifications Authority (MQA). This is a significant achievement and will position Adapt IT International as one of the elite group of MQA-certified training institutions in the country.

“MQA certification is an extremely rigorous process that took us two years to achieve, and we are very honoured to have been judged to meet the Authority’s high standards,” says Sandrine Permall, CaseWare Africa’s Mauritius Branch Manager. CaseWare Africa is a division of Adapt IT and is the African reseller for CaseWare International – the global leader in auditing and financial reporting software.

MQA-certified training companies must also demonstrate that they have policies and procedures in place to deliver training effectively, and to gather, and act on, client feedback. The aim of the MQA is to ensure that the Mauritian workforce is constantly being upskilled to maintain its position as Africa’s governance and finance hub, in line with the mandates of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC). Moreover, up to 75% of training costs provided by MQA-registered training institutions can be claimed back from the HRDC.

Mrs. Permall confirms that financial professionals and auditors have a key role to play across commerce. A highly skilled corps of accounting and auditing professionals is essential if Mauritius is to continue along its current growth trajectory and realise its goals as a country. Mauritian accounting and auditing professionals need to be able to use the latest technologies to improve their productivity, enhance the quality of their outputs and ensure that they comply with an increasingly complex body of global regulations—especially since Mauritius is seen as a desirable domicile for international companies operating in Africa.

CaseWare has a proven track record of helping the accounting and auditing profession to work smarter. For example, CaseWare Cloud allows distributed teams to collaborate easily and maintain strict version control while the CaseWare platform ensures that wasteful and inaccurate manual inputting of figures is minimised with one version of the truth. CaseWare’s templates are constantly updated to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations and standards mitigating a key risk for the profession and its clients.

“CaseWare has a major role to play in equipping all Mauritian financial and auditing professionals to compete with international firms and provide their clients with the best possible outcomes,” she says.

“MQA accreditation means that we are now in an even better position to provide our clients with the training they need to realise the software’s full potential, underpinned by the refund of up to 75% of the total cost of the training,” Mrs. Permall concludes.

Taking financial reporting into the digital era

5 measures to future proof reporting and preparing for a 4IR environment

By Christiaan Brink, Product Executive for CaseWare Africa, Adapt IT.

Managing the financial reporting process in a structured way that is easy to understand, is challenging in a fast-moving world fraught with regulatory and compliance complexities, with the volume of things to account for growing at an unprecedented rate.

The complexity of this environment is set to increase in the 4th Industrial Revolution. With more technology to empower financial professionals than ever before, this has not eliminated professional conduct that is void of ethics, good governance and sound judgement. The recent bout of South African corporate scandals, questionable audit practices, trading suspensions and financial reporting restatements, bear testament to that getting it right is about more than just embracing technology.

At the same time, technology is the key enabler to empower finance professionals and provide them with the tools necessary to drive higher standards and the speed of execution that modern business demands. It is paramount for these professionals to automate core business processes and repetitive tasks, not only to weather the changes the 4IR will ultimately bring, but to shift focus to expertise and skills that cannot be emulated by machines.

5 key measures to future-proof financial reporting are:

1. Automate absolutely everything

In financial reporting, manual inputs, amendments and calculations are prone to error, particularly when teams are working to tight deadlines. As the pressure mounts, teams are forced to take shortcuts, skip steps and make assumptions.

At CaseWare, we are continuously surprised at how many large corporate firms still consolidate using Excel. Aside from risking macros and formulas that may go wrong, managing this understanding and complexity over time is extremely tedious. To avoid this, organisations need to connect all business processes directly with systems and platforms to allow them to process, calculate and store data automatically, centrally, securely and – as far as possible – in real time. They can then deploy reporting tools on top of this to set up all the insights they need, and enable automated financial reporting.

This empowers teams with more time to apply the much needed value-added qualities that are uniquely human, such as creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation, relationship building, judgement and advice.

2. Standardise reporting and KPIs

Centralising and automating all data creates an ecosystem the business can continuously supplement and enrich. This then empowers the organisation to define and implement all the standardised reporting they need, in a consistent way, automated end-to-end and on an ongoing basis.

In the case of IFRS 9 for example, the challenge is not specifically what must be disclosed, but how to arrive at what the disclosure requires, as the datasets needed are not always readily available and might be difficult to work with. Therefore, business needs to look wider than just financial reporting data and treat all data as a strategic asset that must be well measured, collected fluidly, stored on a large scale and combined in a strategic fashion. Big data and running complex calculations are becoming a reality that more and more businesses will have to come to grips with, and build strong capabilities for.

Achieving all of this is highly powerful, as businesses are then able to define, measure and report KPIs on insights that drive their success in ways they have never before been able to do.

3. Simplify understanding

From a regulatory and legal perspective, financial reporting must adhere to very specific disclosure and compliance standards. However, in most organisations, the majority of employees are not financial professionals and they may have limited ability to readily understand this information.

By centralising data and standardising reporting, it becomes possible to institute organisation-wide management and operational reporting that empowers employees at all levels with metrics and KPIs they can easily understand. It also gives them a clear view into how they are able to influence them. This is immensely powerful in creating the right incentives across a business.

4. Drive an environment of transparency

Obfuscation, disinformation and fake news thrive in a setting where perception is disconnected from reality and facts. With modern technology at their disposal, companies are now better placed than ever before to create an environment of transparency. And with blockchain ledgers increasingly being implemented within transactional system back-ends, organisations are better equipped to validate the integrity of who did what, and in which order.

5. Surface problems immediately

In a world where data is a strategic asset, we are now able to make greater sense of all our transactional data and process insights – for example from our general and subsidiary ledgers. We can connect these datasets to processes that catch outliers and questionable activities instantly, and set up exception reporting which can be surfaced from the executive level, down through the organisation to a level of detail which everyone can act on immediately. These systems are already starting to incorporate machine learning and AI capabilities to spot problems and take action faster than ever before. However, it is very difficult to take advantage of these technologies if data is not centralised.

It is now more important than ever not to wait for audit findings, but instead to empower every employee to be their own compliance officers and create an environment where problems are surfaced quickly with data, and dealt with decisively.

As organisations brace themselves for the impact of the 4IR, they should take advantage of the platforms, systems and automation at their disposal already today and work to build the appropriate technical capabilities and skills within their finance teams. Those that invest and continually increment in their technology foundation, will be well placed to take advantage of 4IR technologies as they mature.

Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology. He has spent the last 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA. Christiaan recently joined the Adapt IT group where he currently leads the product group for the CaseWare Africa division.

Technology is Driving the Accounting Value Proposition

By Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, Caseware Africa.

Technologies such as automation, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud are changing accounting practice business models and advancing the entire sector value chain.

The enabling of new business models for accounting practices is a key change being brought about by new technologies. Instead of allocating up to 50% of the working day to repetitive tasks, those accounting professionals successfully harnessing automation are able to dedicate more time to offer additional services, such as consulting and support in strategic financial planning.

The widespread adoption of cloud-based solutions is enabling more flexibility and mobility for accounting practitioners, and intelligent software is enabling seamless integration between various systems and financial packages, which eliminates the need to manually export and collate inputs for reporting purposes, for example.

These advances support the changing business model the market is increasingly demanding – whereby clients want predictable and managed cash flows, so they want to pay for an outcome, not a billable hour. By introducing greater efficiencies, reducing resources needed, and speeding up the time taken to deliver an outcome, accounting practitioners are able to meet this growing demand and simultaneously scale up the practice.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Accountability

AI is being deployed to support process automation in the accounting sector, and we can expect to see it being harnessed more in years to come. However, it should be noted that accounting is a highly regulated sector, and therefore the fundamental issue when introducing AI into this environment is accountability. The legal responsibility still rests with the individual or the function, and while AI can certainly support accounting, it cannot take over the function.

Automation and advanced new software solutions are widely in use to support the accounting function today, helping to reduce resources allocated to repetitive processes, streamline operational functions and enhance communications with clients, says Brink.

Accounting practices are employing systems to automate and enhance invoicing, payment and reconciliation; to integrate disparate systems quickly and easily; to support batch functions; and to support compliance, for example. They may also opt to harness instant messaging to send clients reminders or update them on progress, and social media for marketing and information.

Is Automation set to Replace the accountant?

Hardly, but automation will change the practitioner’s role to a more consultative and strategic one – which is a positive move. Beyond the accounting practice, automation supports efficiencies for the entire value chain – from the regulator or other authority, through to the accounting practice’s end client, all of whom benefit from faster, simpler, more efficient accounting processes.

Over time we can expect to transform from desktop-based work to a completely cloud-based environment, with automation helping practitioners to produce outcomes more efficiently. As market leaders in financial reporting and auditing software, Caseware Africa is constantly embedding more automation and more advanced features into our solutions to address both high-level functions and real-world challenges. Our current focus areas include more efficient integration between systems, intelligent solutions to underpin compliance, and products to ensure quality results, increased effectiveness, and improved profitability for audit, tax and secretarial operations.

 Christiaan Brink, Product Executive, Caseware Africa, a division of Adapt IT.

Christiaan holds a degree in Computer Engineering and has extensive product development experience and a passion for technology. He has spent the last 12 years based in the UK creating software solutions for the investment data industry across EMEA. Christiaan recently joined the Adapt IT group where he currently leads the product group for the Caseware Africa division.

Fast-tracking reporting for optimal public sector resource deployment

Fast-tracking reporting for optimal public sector resource deployment

By Stephan van der Merwe Product Manager – Public Sector at CaseWare Africa, a division of AdaptIT

Well I think you would all agree that South Africa has seldom had a greater need for compliance in reporting, fiscal responsibility and transparency than it does at present. But compliance with National Treasury reporting processes and requirements may not be making optimal use of your public sector resources at hand.

As our country strives to transition to more efficient government processes in an Industry 4.0 environment, automation, and a range of next generation technologies, present solutions to the reporting challenges currently facing provincial and national government departments.

The cumbersome process of preparing financial statements is a key challenge especially in the case where this is done manually – which is quite common. Doing it this way requires extensive time and effort: it also presents the very real risk of human error creeping in. Should an error occur, skills resources across the relevant departments and National Treasury itself have to be deployed to identify the error and investigate whether it represents mismanagement or fraud. This results in a time devouring exercise involving the valuable resource of senior skills that must focus on drafting and checking reports and investigating errors, leaving virtually no time for them to apply their expertise to analysing, probing and understanding the reports.

“Automation presents an immediate solution to the challenge of maximising high-level financial skills resources, while at the same time supporting compliance and transparency”

It is incredible that this still happens when one word solves the entire problem – Automation!

This presents an immediate solution to the challenge of maximising high-level financial skills resources, while at the same time supporting compliance and transparency. Departments can provide National Treasury with reports in the required formats with minimal resources and effort, while still supporting the drive towards more efficient, transparent management of taxpayers’ money. Not only can automation slash the time you take to import data to the necessary formats; it also eliminates the risk of human error in reporting. The result is that investigations are limited to those cases that legitimately require investigation. In addition, automation supports reporting throughout the financial year, enhancing your decision-making processes through the availability of up to date information.

CaseWare Africa has launched and refined an efficient template for the Modified Cash standard developed by the Office of the Accountant General in National Treasury to mandate the principles by which national and provincial departments should present their financial accounts. CaseWare’s templates automate the onerous process of compiling financial statements in a prescribed format, allowing national and provincial departments to produce statements that comply with the guidelines issued by National Treasury with the minimum of extra work, and with increased accuracy.

“CaseWare’s templates are an excellent example of private sector innovation to support public sector efficiencies and transparency.”

The Modified Cash template can be set up to draw the necessary data from the state’s central accounting system, Basic Accounting System (BAS), as well as the management information system, Vulindlela. This information is used to populate Microsoft Word and Excel reports automatically from a single basic data source, eliminating the challenge of version control. If trial balances are updated during the process of creating the financial statements, it is easy to re-import the data into the Excel or Word reports.

Now available to South African national and provincial departments, CaseWare’s templates are an excellent example of private sector innovation to support public sector efficiencies and transparency.

Brief Bio: Stephan van der Merwe, Product Manager, Public Sector, CaseWare Africa – a division of AdaptIT division

Stephan is an immensely experienced executive in the financial services industry. He was an audit manager at the Auditor General where he served large public entities. His tenure there was the catalyst that developed his passion for auditing in the public sector.

He joined CaseWare Africa in 2008 (at that time the company was CQS Holdings and renamed in 2017 to CaseWare Africa following its acquisition by Adapt IT). Stephan’s personal industry experience has helped him to apply his knowledge to CaseWare’s products and add value that is not only technically sound but also industry relevant.

Use data intelligently to refine your business

Valerie Wiggett, Operations Manager, Caseware Africa, reveals the three laws of data

“Data—or rather the ability to use it intelligently—is redefining business, and the financial services sector is no exception.”

The ultimate winners in the data economy will be those companies that know what data they are collecting, and can use it to differentiate themselves. Business is undergoing a data revolution. Increasing digitalisation of everything from business processes to social life is creating a tsunami of data. Whereas once the challenge was where to store it, the question now is who can use it effectively to differentiate themselves and show competitors a clean pair of heels?

The winners will those who understand the three laws of data:

1. Use data responsibly

It must be used responsibly in line with the law. Perhaps the most valuable data pertains to customers themselves: names, addresses, credit and buying history, preferences and so on. Much of this information is, however, highly personal and is increasingly protected by law—the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act is the main legal framework in this country.

The key principle here is that consumers must know why their data is being collected, and it can only be used for that purpose. Using data irregularly is punishable with heavy fines in many jurisdictions, and will be here just as soon as the Information Regulator publishes the necessary regulations under PoPI. We have already seen huge fines imposed for data breaches in Europe and the United States.

2. Clean and accurate!

It must be clean and accurate. It’s obviously important that this customer data should be accurate. The old axiom garbage in, garbage out has never been more relevant. Technology is helping here because, increasingly, manual inputting of data is steadily being replaced as business processes are automated, reducing errors and creating information stores that can be used across the entire business.

Automation is transforming the financial services sector by ensuring not only that manual data input (and associated errors) are all but eliminated, and data can be shared across systems.

3. Use Intelligently

It must be used intelligently. Unsurprisingly, this is the most difficult to get right. There are two parts to this, perhaps they could be categorised as the front end and the back end. At the front end, the company uses customers’ personal data to create accurate marketing, and highly personalised customer experiences that result in a sale and ongoing loyalty. But at the back end, it has to use the full data set to improve its business processes and to deliver the front end.

At the back end, effective data use can impact a business’s ability to outperform competitors and thus ultimately its profitability. In the financial services sector, for example, XBRL business reporting and the new IFRS standards are all dependent on digitalisation and data. Initiatives like this include forecasting accuracy and better cash projections which are based on facts rather than intuition, as well predictions on customer and operational performance. Accurate financial modelling, as well analysis of payment behaviour, support better planning.

In auditing also, automation and efficient use of data enables the identification of anomalous transactions in real time, greatly reducing the burden on auditors while enhancing the service they offer to clients.

One of the biggest challenges is the sheer volume of data. Firms hold huge and increasing amounts of data, but typically only use between 3 and 5 percent of it. Clearly, those that are able to identify the best and most useful data will be at a huge advantage. Data scientists are becoming some of the most sought-after employees, and are in short supply. Ambitious companies with an eye on the future will be making plans now to ensure they have access to specialised data skills.

“Differentiate your business in a crowded marketplace”

Where the data revolution will take us nobody can be quite sure, but one thing is certain: you need to be thinking hard about what data you are collecting and how you are using it to differentiate your company.

Valerie joined Caseware Africa in 2014. She is an MBA graduate with over twenty years’ experience in multiple industries, including manufacturing, construction and technology.  Valerie’s roles have been mostly in sales operations and administration and she has worked   in South Africa and internationally in the UK, UAE and Japan.  She was appointed as Divisional Operations Manager for Caseware in July 2018

Digital technology lighting the way through dismal accounting ethics tunnels

SA should look to harnessing digital technology to improve transparency and underpin ethical practices in accounting and auditing. By Christiaan Steyn, CaseWare Africa

2018 proved to be another year laden with ethics-related challenges emerging across both state-owned enterprises and private sector organisations. These issues raised concerns about the state of ethics and professionalism in our sector, but also served to illustrate that the time has come for organisations to embed new technologies, standards and models into processes to underpin transparency and ethical practices. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the gloomy ethics tunnel, with the emergence of new standards and multiple advanced digital accounting and auditing solutions to support ethical practices.

So what’s to be done?

IAASB Framework for Audit Quality International Standard on Quality Control 1 (ISQC 1) and International Standard on Auditing 220 (ISA 220) are welcome measures for the auditing sector to address challenges facing the profession. These standards, facing their first refresh in around a decade, will go a long way to addressing accounting issues in a vastly changed environment. In addition, updates to SAICA’s own Code of Professional Conduct in line with the IESBA Code, also add impetus to efforts to ensure professionalism, accountability and ethics in the sector.

Cooling down the debate on ethics lapses

The reasons for lapses in ethical behaviour have been hotly debated. They may have arisen due to an increasingly flexible understanding of what constitutes ethics, professionalism and quality. But they may also have occurred because of the sheer volumes of data and transactions now requiring monitoring and processing.  Another contributing factor is the pressure on businesses to perform in a declining economy; and also to adapt to a fast-changing technological, political and socio-economic environment. Many local accounting and audit firms still rest heavily on manual and spreadsheet based solutions. As pressure increases to generate more revenue, and as the amount of data and number of transactions in question increase exponentially, it becomes increasingly difficult for senior personnel to interrogate every ledger and every transaction. This opens the door to fraud and simple, old-fashioned human error. Automation uses the information already being generated by the company’s ERP and other systems to perform an audit, reduces repetitive and time-consuming manual tasks, supports integrated reporting as recommended by the various King Reports, and ensures greater integrity of the data. This data can then be used to analyse patterns in near real time to identify suspicious activity, predict risk and ensure compliance.

Fresh new approach due to Analytics

Traditional methods of assessing a small sample of transactions are not effective when dealing with millions of transactions a day. However, with advanced analytics, auditors can not only interrogate all the transactions, but they can also spot anomalies and suspicious behaviour – for example, a single account manager regularly processing a particular’s client’s transactions on weekends, and always just under the authorisation limit. Real-time analysis could also be applied to the activities and holdings of directors, to highlight conflicts of interest or worrisome expenditure. Predictive analytics can add impact to the analytics arsenal, by helping organisations identify and predict emerging risks and opportunities.

Real-time auditing

Digitally-enabled real-time auditing is another advance likely to emerge to overcome the challenge of fraud that escalates throughout a financial year and is only discovered at year-end. By implementing real-time audit tools, auditing becomes a continuous process and auditors gain the ability to spot suspicious transactions or activities virtually as they happen.

Are you compliant?

Digital reporting tools also support compliance with new accounting standards such as IFRS 9, IFRS 15 and IFRS 16, which bring with them significant changes in reporting, which demands extensive preparation that could potentially divert focus from risk and fraud taking place. By embracing new standards designed to improve transparency and ethical behaviour, and by harnessing automation, analytics and other digital advances that take error- and fraud-prone processes out of the equation, the accounting sector is positioned to build ethical practices into the heart of all processes.
Brief Bio:
Christiaan Steyn, Assurance Product Manager, CaseWare Africa, a division of Adapt IT. Christiaan is an Associate General Accountant (SA), with extensive technical knowledge and a passion for technology.  He completed his articles at a medium sized auditing firm where he gained experience in various industries.  He was later appointed Template Developer and then moved to the role of Product Manager at CQS Holdings – which was subsequently acquired by Adapt IT and renamed to CaseWare Africa.

Two-factor authentication

What is two-factor authentication?

Also known as, 2FA, or multi-factor authentication- it is a method of identity verification using two different components, such as a password and security token or one-time pin (OTP) sent to your mobile device. This method combines something you have (a token or OTP) with something you know (a password). Two-factor authentication is more effective in securing account access than a password alone, making it more difficult for criminals to access your data/accounts.

Scammers often use malware, phony websites, and other methods to crack a password. Many people use the same password on multiple websites and 46% use passwords that are at least five years old. In addition, 64% of millennials have had their online and mobile accounts compromised.   More than three billion usernames and passwords were stolen in 2016, and Business Insider reported in November 2017* that there are 1.9 billion stolen passwords and usernames available on the black market, and up to 25% of them will still work on a Google account.

2018 certainly isn’t much better with daily reports on hacking of passwords and user identities from many high profile organisations including: The British National Health Service; British Airways; and Liberty Life in South Africa – to name just a few.

So what can you do to help secure your data?

Caseware has revolutionised the way you manage your engagement Information online with the help of Caseware cloud. To ensure that your information and other related data on Caseware Cloud remains well protected, Caseware introduced two factor authentication to provide an additional safeguard to users when they log in.

It also integrates with your Caseware Working Papers when you assimilate it into your instance of Caseware cloud. This means that you and everyone in your team who has access to your cloud do not need to set up a separate protection setup of username and password. Simply use your Caseware cloud credentials.

How does it work?

Two-Factor Authentication is a security feature that requires you as a user to supply three things when logging in:

    • Your Caseware Cloud username
    • Your password
    • A once off One Time Pin (OTP), sent as a text message (Also known as an SMS) to the user’s mobile phone.

Users will supply their login username and password, which will trigger Two-Factor Authentication. A screen will prompt the user to refer to a text message that is being sent to their mobile phone containing their OTP. Once this OTP is entered, the user gains access to their Caseware cloud profile. This method helps to ensure that you are the only person who can access your Caseware Cloud account, even if someone else manages to get access to your password.

How does my Caseware Administrator activate this security feature?

Your company’s Caseware Cloud Administrator (who can be the Caseware champion as well), will enable Two-Factor Authentication on your cloud’s instance via the settings menu. In addition to ensuring that this feature is enabled, he/she will also need to ensure that all users have the correct mobile phone number captured on their profile. This is because Two-Factor Authentication will use your user’s mobile number to send text messages containing the secure OTP for logging in.

What else can I do to protect my data?

A simple starting point is to change your passwords—regularly!  Passwords are identified as a very weak means of authentication especially when used as the only protection against phishing attacks.

What you really need is a second factor of authentication. That’s why many internet services, a number of which have felt the pinch of being hacked themselves have embraced two-factor authentication for their users. Global organisations including: Yahoo; Google; Facebook and many financial institutions have all embraced the two factor authentication system.

Biometric systems** which include: scanners for fingerprints; retinal scanning or face recognition systems are also growing in use due to innovations including: the iPhone X’s Face ID and Windows Hello. In most cases, including two factor authentications for your Google account and other popular services is simply a numeric OTP – a few digits sent to your phone, which can only be used once.

Many online services such as Dropbox, Facebook, Google and Instagram let you create backup OTPs, which you can print out or screenshot. That way if you lose your phone or don’t have a cell signal, you can use a backup OTP as a second authentication factor to log in. If you keep printouts of your back-up OTPs, just make sure you keep them in a very secure place.

Is two factor authentication the security silver bullet for safe data?

No security product can claim to offer fool proof protection, but by combining two of the above three types of authentication, and changing your passwords regularly; two factor authentication makes it harder to get into your account. You not only make your accounts more difficult to attack, but you also make them less attractive targets.

Caseware Africa to release update in line with IRBA 2017 Public Inspections Report

Caseware Africa will release an updated version of its Probe Audit software on 7 November to help clients deal with the issues highlighted in the most recent Inspections Report issued by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA). The update will also help auditors deal with the implications of IFRS 9 and 15, which became effective for all annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2018.

The IRBA conducts inspections of audit firms and audit files annually and releases a report to highlight findings and themes that the audit industry should note. The IRBA’s 2017 Inspections Report, issued in May this year, indicates that many of the findings do not differ significantly from what was reported in the previous two years.

“As a trusted software partner for the auditing profession, we take these annual Inspection Reports very seriously, and use them as an opportunity to update and refine our software, as needed, to help our clients overcome the challenges indicated in the Report,” says Christiaan Steyn, Product Owner: Audit, Caseware Africa. “The fact that the IRBA highlighted recurring issues prompted an in-depth consultation with our own experts as well as officials of the IRBA to ascertain exactly what issues auditors are struggling with.”

The IRBA highlighted four key areas where auditors are consistently falling short:

    • Revenue auditing, which is of particular relevance as IFRS 15 introduces new guidance for accounting for revenue. Mr Steyn says that the nature of revenue has changed substantially over the past several years, especially as more complex warranties and guarantees have become the norm, as have loyalty points. All of these may create future liabilities that must be properly assessed. In addition, the fact that many performance bonuses are linked to revenue can tempt executives to overstate revenue. Revenue recognition remains a significant risk area and auditors must pay particular attention to this aspect.
    • Inadequate documentation. The golden rule of auditing is that enough documentation should be on file to allow another professional reviewing an audit to come to the same conclusion that the auditors did. The IRBA found a consistent weakness in this area.
    • Evaluation of misstatements on the Schedule of Unadjusted Audit Differences. The issue here is that the misstatements on the schedule should not be of a nature to affect the overall assessment of the company’s performance. However, auditors are consistently failing to analyse the cumulative effect adjustments could make to the ratios (such as the Price-to-Earnings (P/E) and Return on Assets (ROA) ratios) on which most investors rely. In other words, auditors need to probe the question of materiality and unadjusted journals much more deeply.
    • Significant estimates. The IRBA Report indicates that auditors are too ready to accept corporate estimates of building, vehicle and other asset values and depreciation times. By writing off assets quickly, companies realise tax advantage prematurely. Auditors need to cultivate a professional scepticism with regard to significant estimates, as well as more generally, Mr Steyn says.

“The updated version of Caseware Probe Audit will help our clients address the issues raised by the IRBA and the IFRS 9 and 15 standard, helping them to realise the benefits of automation while enhancing their compliance with relevant industry standards,” he concludes.

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