It’s an auditor’s job to forensically examine the finer workings of a company. You will be expected to go through reams of paperwork and dissect it all in great detail. Not everyone has what it takes to be an auditor, but it can be a lucrative and rewarding career choice for anyone with a head for figures and an eye for precision.
All parts of a business are subject to audit. The company’s finances are the first place an auditor will start looking for problems and mistakes, but audits can be conducted on the supply chain, IT, employee performance and the HR department, environmental impact, and compliance.
Job Description of an Auditor
Internal auditors work for one company whereas external auditors are called in to review and analyse any number of businesses retrospectively.
External auditors review a company’s accounts, financial transactions, and analyse how the money is being spent. Auditors work in the public and private sector, holding companies to account for taxpayers and shareholders. You will be responsible for examining a company’s accounts, assessing financial systems, identifying problems, fraudulent or otherwise, and making recommendations for areas of improvement.
Internal auditors work within a company, streamlining processes and financial procedures to make cost savings and streamline the business. Your job is to improve operating efficiency and you will often be required to report directly to the board of directors. You will need to monitor processes, be on the lookout for fraudulent activity and make regular reports on the efficacy of internal controls.
It isn’t cost effective for smaller businesses to employ a full-time auditor, so this work is generally outsourced to an audit company.
Skills Required to Be an Auditor
To be an auditor, you must have a strong sense of ethics. Part of your job is to identity problems and fraud. It’s easy to be swayed by conflicting responsibilities when you work as an internal auditor, but it is important to maintain a firm ethical framework.
Problems and discrepancies must be reported in a timely fashion, even when they are likely to cause serious issues for individuals or the company.
You must be a good communicator. You may be required to deal with people at all levels of the business hierarchy, including directors and board members. Auditors need strong interpersonal skills to persuade personnel to hand over necessary documentation and access to information.
Auditors have to be team players, as you will be required to work as a team if you join a large audit, tax and consultancy firm such as RSM.
You will also need strong numerical and analytical skills, particularly if you wish to work within finance and tax auditing.
Auditors typically have a business and/or accounting background, with a degree in accounting, finance, or a business-related subject. To be an external auditor in the UK, you will need to be a chartered accountant with membership of ACCA, AIA, or ICAEW. In order to become a public-sector auditor, you will need to be a member of Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).
Larger audit, tax and accounting firms offer graduate trainee schemes and internships. The National Audit Office also offers a three-year training scheme for graduates with a degree in any subject, not just finance.
If you wish to apply for a job as an internal auditor, you won’t need to be a chartered accountant, but some experience of accounting, finance and business will be a significant advantage. Some companies advertise for trainee auditors, where you will receive on-the-job training.
Increased legislation and statutory compliance has led to a greater need for internal and external auditors, so employment prospects are high, with excellent earnings potential.
This advice should enable you to get a head start on the competition to successfully embark on a career in the auditing industry and give you an idea of what you may face in the coming years.