It’s a question I’ve been asked, and have asked myself, more times than I could count over the past five years. “Why audit?”. There was a time not so long ago when audit was the default route into the graduate employment world for accountancy students. Many threw themselves into the job without so much as a second thought for what they were getting into. But here’s the thing: millennials are smarter than they’re given credit for. The days of taking the first job going are over, and more and more graduates are undertaking detailed research into the profession.
I have been an auditor for a little over five years now. I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of those graduates that threw themselves into the role without a clear understanding of what I was going to do. Sure, I did the research before the interview. I could quote a huge amount of nonsense on what the audit profession was, and I quite happily wheeled out the “An auditor is a watchdog, not a bloodhound” line (FYI – as great a quote as it is, it’s the last thing I’d want to hear interviewing a prospective candidate!). But the truth is that I had too little an idea of what I was going to do.
I’ll tell you a secret though: I love what I do. And it’s because of this that I want to encourage people to think about (and choose) the profession. So let me give you a bit of an insight into why audit should be the career for you.
What does an auditor really do?
I’ve been to countless careers fairs over the past five years (and for many years before that as a student – I’m guilty of being the kid that’s only there for the free pens!). The question I’m asked more than any other is “What do auditors do?”. The answer sounds like a bit of a cop out – but it’s not. The truth is the life of an auditor is as varied as you could imagine. Sure, your first year will be spent checking through invoices, reading financial statements, looking at bank statements. But each day brings something different – and each day that goes by brings something more interesting than the last.
You can, no doubt, find a perfect description of an auditor from any search engine. But don’t get too bogged down in trying to understand everything that an auditor does. Just know that an auditor is a third party ‘gatekeeper’ providing assurance over the contents of a set of accounts, and that an auditor should be a business advisor to his/her clients. Everything else you’ll learn as you get stuck in.
So I have a vague idea of what an ‘audit’ is. Why is it for me?
If you read the above and wonder whether the world of audit could possibly be for you, here’s the best piece of advice I could give you: if you have any desire to work in the world of business or finance, you couldn’t possibly get a better grounding in how that world works than in audit.
You’ll get first hand access to businesses you’ve seen in the news all your life. You’ll also get first hand access to businesses that you’ve never heard of (but maybe you’ll wish you had that idea first!). And everything you can find out about that business will give you the greatest thing you didn’t know you needed: experience.
The part of my job that I enjoy most as a manager within an audit department is watching people develop. I’m incredibly lucky to have worked with people who supported me in the journey towards being a business advisor, and getting to play a part in that same journey for someone else gets me up in the morning (not literally…my dog jumping on my bed literally gets me up in the morning!).
Oh, and you might just have a bit of fun outside the office too. Being part of a group of people all going through the same journey certainly leads to quite the social life! Until, of course, you get old and can’t keep up any more (or so they tell me…).
Why choose audit? Why not!
On top of the experience that you’ll gain, you’ll work closely with people experienced and otherwise. You’ll grow your network faster than you thought possible – and when people much older and (occasionally) wiser than you tell you that it’s never too early to start building your network, listen to them. You never know when that random person you met at class one day might come in useful!
I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to work for a great company. I work with highly intelligent people, all pulling towards the same goal. Do your research, ask questions at those graduate fairs, and pick the firm that will give you the best possible training.
And if you’re thinking about a career in audit, I can assure you that you’ll not look back regretting it. Take the plunge…and be willing to learn every day. Oh…and try to have a little fun along the way!