How to Audit (Part 7): The Circle of Audit

The 847th day since the start of my audit career is a good time to reflect on lessons learnt. I’m into my third year and I feel like an old hand.

The New Trainees

I have seen two batches of new trainees. Last year, I had the excitement of welcoming the new trainees and not being the fresh meat anymore. This year, although it is still fun seeing the new trainees, I do feel more distant. I have one solitary exam remaining, compared to fifteen for the new joiners. The age gap feels larger than it should. A lot of my peers took (multiple) gap years, whereas the majority of the new trainees have not. I speculate that this is because of the recession, but it would be easier to get over being older.

Unnecessary Photo. By Paul Goyette

I’ve come a long way from the nervous first year in a ironed shirt and Windsor-knot tie. Now, I give audit lectures in an un-ironed disguised by a jumper. What advice can I give to the next generation of auditors?

1.) Ask For Help
Everyone starts off with zero knowledge. I struggled to work out which way round to hold a pen. The only way to learn is to swallow your pride and ask for help. Do use every person and resource available – except this blog, which does not comply with any International Standards of Auditing.

2.) Be Known
Auditors are extremely friendly and hold lots of social events. Attend as many as you can so that you get known by the department. It fosters good relationships and aids teamwork. This is more than a cynical networking exercise – it is a chance to defend yourself against any malicious rumours that might be spread.

3.) Know Your Rights
Being new and having no experience makes it hard to assert yourself. The tendency is to stay at work until everyone else has finished, even if your work was finished. I used to tentatively and nervously ask permission to go home, as if I was back at school. Know your rights: self-review your work, ask if there is any more to be done and then ask to go home.

4.) Do Your Homework
Trainees are quickly forgotten if they fail their exams and get kicked out. The best career advice I got given was to pass my exams first time. Also, try and pass by more than 1%. Although such trainees are paraded as examples of efficient revision, it is too fine a margin. I reckon that exam performance can vary on the day by ±5% due to nerves or lucky cramming. Unless you possess audit-jedi skills, don’t leave it to chance.

5.) Enjoy Today
The three year training contract is a treadmill that does not stop. It is easy to focus on the next deadline, whether it be the end of an audit or an exam date. There will be hard days. So you get through the pain of today to make it to a better tomorrow. However, there is always another target to get through and, before you know it, years have passed.

My best advice and most controversial statement is: enjoy audit. Smile at the reconciliations that add up, the days in college, the horrific Christmas party hangovers, the cool clients, the nice managers and doing something different every day.

The Circle

The new trainees bring a sense of renewal to the department. It’s a time to reflect on how much I have learnt in the past year. It is the Circle of Life Audit

I’m nostalgic about my first year, but would I do it again? Absolutely not. I never want to take those exams again. My tedious photocopying can be delegated to some First Year.

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