The Oscars are a famous example of assurance services in the accounting field. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences retains an accounting firm — PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse — to count ballots and deliver verified results. Objectivity and adherence to professional standards are at the core of the accounting profession. With the high-stakes Oscars, the Academy relies on accountants to tabulate results that the public can trust.

Of course, it is not every day that accountants get to walk the red carpet. Yet, assurance services are in high demand across diverse industries. Experts in assurance services are highly sought after due to their competency with and current knowledge of increasing regulatory requirements as well as emerging technologies that impact the field in complex ways.

To meet this demand for a new era of accounting professionals, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) offers an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Accounting program that includes advanced studies in auditing and assurance services. Relevant topics include fraud auditing, operational auditing, assurance services for information technology and e-commerce, auditor ethics, legal liability, risk assessment and audit technology issues.

What Do Assurance Services Professionals Do?

When it comes to accounting careers, tax services readily come to mind. But an MBA in accounting can open the doors to many other career options, including assurance services.

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) explains, “[s]takeholders need confidence in reported information. Your clients seek assurance about trust and reliability around entire systems of information used to collect and report data.” This is where assurance services come in.

According to Investopedia, “Assurance services are a type of independent professional service usually provided by certified or chartered accountants such as certified public accountants (CPAs).” An independent professional’s thorough review of various kinds of financial documents and transactions “certifies the correctness and validity of the item being reviewed by the CPA.” In summation, “[b]usinesses use assurance services to increase the transparency, relevance, and value of the information they disclose to the market and their investors.”

Who Uses Assurance Services?

The use of assurance services to verify the results of the Oscars demonstrates the wide applicability of this type of professional service. Here are just a few examples of environments where assurance services play a crucial role for modern organizations:

  • Lenders must carefully consider a customer’s ability to repay a loan. Assurance services can assess and reduce risk to help the lender make the right decision.
  • In the world of information technology (IT), assurance services include assisting clients in complying with requirements related to the privacy and protection of data. New components of the CPA Evolution emphasize how important data, privacy and technology are to the modernized field.
  • Nonprofit organizations might employ independent assurance professionals to verify financial records, such as with grant requirements. This can increase both donor confidence and support.

Objectivity and independence are essential elements of assurance services. Logically, the credibility of information increases when an independent third party provides assurance services. An independent assurance professional should not, for example, have a financial interest in the assurance client. This could undermine the level of trust and confidence in the services provided.

What Qualities Must Assurance Services Professionals Have?

In addition to objectivity, the following are must-have skills, competencies and knowledge for providers of assurance services:

  • Strong analytical skills
  • Experience in measuring and assessing various subject matters against criteria
  • Processes for testing the reliability of data
  • Clarity in reporting the results
  • Industry- or function-specific expertise where applicable

In the case of the Oscars, it turns out that there is much more to counting the votes than a simple tally. For starters, it involves ensuring that each ballot, or piece of information, is valid. Complex security measures build additional layers of trust and credibility to increase confidence in the results.

From deciding Oscar winners to strengthening sustainability initiatives, there are almost limitless applications of assurance services. Whatever the subject area, accounting professionals who enjoy questioning the obvious and looking deeper than the numbers and historical data may find satisfaction in an assurance services career. An online MBA in accounting can provide an important steppingstone into the evolving field.

Learn more about the TAMU-CC online MBA with a Concentration in Accounting program.