What will happen when AI takes care of the audit?

A Lünendonk study looks into the future

According to a recent study conducted by the market research firm Lünendonk & Hossenfelder, the future of auditing in Germany lies in the hands of the machines – along the lines of “Hey, R2D2, how are you getting on with those annual financial statements?” While it’s true that there probably won’t be a market for robot auditors any time soon, the predominantly IT-based audit is already just around the corner.

The future of auditing

How exactly do auditors view the future of their sector? Lünendonk & Hossenfelder interviewed 77 companies, which together serve around 70% of the German market. The findings show the direction in which they are heading.

Market shifts and skills shortages forcing digitisation

The leading providers, in particular, have been diversifying their business and building competencies in digitisation and IT consulting alongside their core segments such as tax returns, bookkeeping, audit and tax consulting.

This trend is not only evident in the range of services on offer. Digital transformation on the part of the clients, an ageing workforce and a shortage of young talent are all forcing the audit firms into the automation of their services. Auditors with skills in digitisation, analytics and automation are highly sought-after.

Auditors becoming IT and compliance experts

When we look at the market leaders, we can see that auditing and IT consulting have begun to merge. For Deloitte, Ernst & Young and PwC, digital transformation is one of the key service areas on which to focus. KPMG welcomes its website visitors by offering services in categories such as Data & Analytics, Intelligent Automation and Cyber Security. Yet it’s not only the Big Four that have put IT and digitisation at the top of the agenda. Those following close behind them in the Top 25, such as Rödl & Partner, BDO and Fides Group, have also added IT consulting, system integration and cyber security to their service portfolio.

This brings the Lünendonk study to conclude that the range of IT services offered by leading audit firms is already comparable to that of companies such as Accenture, IBM, Capgemini, Detecon and T-Systems.

But what has this trend in the audit sector got to do with your annual financial statements?

Tipping point in 2026

The agenda has been set: auditors are working hard on the standardisation of the annual audit and on the digital workplace and cloud security. Management, training and motivation programmes are accompanying the IT-driven transformation. The stated objective is an IT-based complete audit.

According to the study by Lünendonk & Hossenfelder, the audit sector is expecting more audits to be carried out by machine than by human hand for the first time in 2026. Audit firms have already begun to adjust their approach accordingly.

The future of auditors

But what will become of auditors when the audit is entirely IT-based?

Auditors will take on new tasks. Who else should see you through building the necessary IT architecture for the audit of the future? Who should pilot you safely through the strict regulatory and legal requirements of digitisation? Who should be on hand as a consultant and expert in the legal and business aspects and, for that matter, the technical aspects of digital transformation and of new business models and processes?

The Lünendonk & Hossenfelder study gives a clear answer: these are precisely the tasks that will be taken care of by the auditors of the future.