How to Audit (Part 19): Leaving Drinks

In every auditor’s life comes a day when checking bank statements no longer satisfies. And that feeling doesn’t go away even after some spreadsheet fun. On that day, he decides to leave. It could happen during the first week or after an illustrious career. But that time always comes.

A lot of thought goes into deciding the next step. By contrast, the leaving process itself is straightforward because there are clear rituals to follow.

Note that these rituals don’t apply if you have been dishonourably sacked. Instead of a ritual there is a choice: leave quietly or burn down bridges and curse the earth on which it stood.

Giving Notice

It is considered polite to tell management that you no longer wish to serve under their command. The notice period is several months. This is negotiated around client commitments. So the actual leaving date depends on how irreplaceable you are. For the exceptionally skilled, the leaving date can be several years past mandatory retirement.

Leaving Email

Writing the leaving email is next. The recipients are copied from the previous leaving email. BCC etiquette is unhelpful here. The email contains the future destination and an emotional thanks to special colleagues. Some will have funny stories. They finish off with a contact email address.

Leaving Drinks

Leaving drinks will be arranged by to say goodbye. The leaver will put up a tab that is in portion with how many free drinks they’ve had from company socials. The best part of the night is the leaving speech. It’s delivered by a senior manager or close friend. The leaver is praised for their hard work. Then there are stories of illegal acts, drunken adventures, inappropriate behaviour and gross incompetence.

leaving_drinks
Should free drinks be a taxable benefit? Photo by frecklescorp

An unintended consequence of the slowdown is that leavers are holding joint events. It attracts a good crowd. However, random first year trainees will arrive early and consume the tab. Leaving speeches can take over one hour.

Final Leaving Email

The final act is sending an email just before handing back the laptop. The staff pass is taken and utterly destroyed. The unceremonious end is the start of the final paragraph of this particular career chapter.

Leavers go with different feelings and for different reasons. But, they all say one thing in common – the people will be missed most. For a profession that has no value without its people, those leavers can be a good sign.

How to Audit (Part 8): The Audit Room

Busy season is upon us. Auditors will leave the safety of the office and go out to the client. They will be given a conference room from which to work. Often, it will be too small. But it becomes a second home as more time is spent there than in bed. This is the audit room.

The Facts

This blog post will dispel the myths about the audit room. And it will provide useful advice.

1) Watch your back
I’m not talking about other auditors stealing your stationery. Audit rooms come with a health warning. The long hours unadjustable conference room chairs and high tables means your back takes severe punishment. The audit room air gets stale. Some trainees say that their eyesight gets worse after some time in audit. However, I consider this to be an urban myth.

Exercise is the key. However, long hours sap the will to exercise and, when combined with frequent snacking, means that it is easy to grow your waistline. Why does busy season have to come after Christmas?

2) 200 cm2
This is the average table space you have to work with. It has to fit your: laptop, mouse, working papers, coffee, pens and arms. Audit rooms get cramp. There is no easy answer. Not using a mouse increases the risk of RSI (repetitive strain injury). Using your lap doubles working space but hurts the neck. Stopping coffee reduces audit efficiency by 110.5%.

3) Fun
The audit room should be fun and usually is fun – at least when working with me. Their is plenty of banter, gossip, amusing reconciliations and the knowledge that, although the work is hard, everyone is in the same situation.

For the bored auditor, there is a list of fun activities:

    • Mass email chains involving the whole year. It says nothing useful. The aim is to get 100 unread emails in the 10 minutes that someone has walked away from their desk. This provokes angry reply-all responses asking to be taken off the email chain.
    • Sending emails from an unlocked computer.
    • Changing the auto-correct options from an unlocked computer. Go for something that won’t be discovered for several months. For example auto-correcting “judgementally” to zzzzzz.

Remember: fun activities are sackable offenses.

conference room
Before the auditors move in by New Chengdu

4) Food
Managers will generously provide sweets, chocolate and cookies for their audit team. It’s always welcome but means that audit rooms get very messy very quickly.

The mess describes the auditors’ life: stray markers and unfindable staplers; piles of wanted and unwanted paper; wires, power cables and hubs; ladies shoes and headphones; empty sandwich packs and half eaten chocolate.

But the mess does clear and the reward for the good audit team is a meal paid for by the partner.

5) Etiquette
There are many unwritten customs and assumed behaviours in the audit room. All of them should be obeyed to ensure a smooth audit and reduce audicidal tendencies (audicidal is from the Latin “audicide”, which means to seriously maim ones auditor in the pursuit of better financial statements):

    • Always offer to make tea. This applies to all grades. I was privileged and humbled when a partner made tea for me.
    • Share your power. The socket to laptop ratio is never high enough. Shared power keeps the audit running.
    • Don’t run away. You don’t want to be the trainee that runs away from an intimidating substantive audit test, doesn’t tell the manager, and sparks a police search operation.

Audit War Room Stories

I’ve made audit rooms sound unpleasant and unhygienic. But is it a bonding experience and has given me memorable stories. I’m certain that I will get more audit war room stories in the coming year(s).

Contact me!

The ball finally dropped that some readers wanted to contact me and were having to leave comments on my post. So I finally created a contact email address. It is:

admin(at)jameshuang.co.uk

All spam, junk email, phising scams are welcome. They will be automatically deleted by gmail. (Am I asking for trouble here?)