Audit is extremely unfashionable. Saying that you enjoy auditing is a taboo worse than owning a Justin Bieber CD. Cynicism and disparagement pervade the trainees. But this is crazy. Trainees work for a minimum of three years in audit. Given a choice between the choice between a positive and negative attitude, most chose to be sad.
This article will be unconventional and talk about the positives of audit. However, simply saying that a positive thinking is enough is insensitive. It ignores that reality that many trainees are not that happy. Is this an issue for the firm, industry, London living or life itself?
Start the excessive, arrogant pretention:
1) Cyclical Variety
Every week in audit is different. The clients and location change. You will work with different people. You could work in large or small teams. The dress codes varies from ties to jeans in college. Even during the hardest weeks, there is the prospect of change to tide you over.
Get paid for not going to work and gaining a valuable qualification. You can even return home during daylight.
3) Client Conversations
Auditors get a lot of contact time with the client. It’s good fun. Bonus marks can be gained by remembering the name of the client’s pets.
You also get the chance to talk with senior finance professionals, which is a rare learning experience.
4) Work Freedom
Trainees are given a lot of autonomy and responsibility in their work. Your tasks can be completed in any order you chose. Working hours can be flexible. It is possible to leave early for opera commitments because the time can be made up later. Managers are open to new ways to work more efficiently.
The large audit firms feel very youthful because they recruit many graduates. As a rough guide, 75% of the staff are under 30. This working atmosphere is fun and easy-going. There are many fun social events. The late weekday nights are a reminder of university, expect sleeping in is no longer an option (or, at least it shouldn’t be).
The Antonym of the Aforementioned
The title follows the modern business language trend of banning negative words. The audit crap is:
1) Unrealistic Expectations and Horrible Hours
While there is freedom in work the overriding aim is that the work is finished. Work becomes more important than dinner with friends, exam revision and, even the most sacrosanct of all: evening Excel classes.
2) Commutes and Hotels
No matter how centrally you live there will always be a client with a long commute. At worst four hours of the day can be lost to travel. You will stay in a hotel if the client is distant. Unfortunately, the novelty of room service wears off after a day.
3) Client Conflict
Not many companies would chose to have an audit. However, audits are mandatory for larger companies. There is less sense of client service than in advisory or medicine.
Most clients are understanding, co-operative and pleasant to work with. However, auditors are dependent on timely and appropriate information from the client. Without this, the work is very frustrating and stressful.
4) Bell Curve Pressure
A good appraisal depends on out-performing your peers. The hardest and best work may be merely average because it is measured against other equally brilliant graduates. The use of the “average” label is disconcerting.
The aim of the bell curve is to everyone work harder. To quote the Goldman Sachs work culture:
|Taking type-A people, making them feel like type-B people and moulding them into kick-ass teams that work every hour God — sorry, Goldman — sends, is important, no doubt. (link)|
The pressure is not as obvious as the dog-eat-dog corporate world stereotype. It is subtly embedded into the work culture (especially London). It is easy to forget that there is a life beyond the audit bubble.
5) Friday Drinks
A consequence of working with different people and locations every week is that there are no regular Friday night drinks. This may or may not be bad, but does show that relationships are many and shallow, rather than few and deep. Or this might indicate my deep unpopularity.
With the exception of college, most graduate jobs have the same good aspects of audit. Indeed, some may dislike working in different places every week.
Long hours, commutes and stress are common to most professional jobs in the 21st century. The death of the 9 to 5 is approaching its 30th anniversary. It’ll be celebrated by the abolition of final salary pensions.
The problems is not with audit, but with a general dissatisfaction with work. However, work is the unavoidable price of the lifestyle that we want and expect.
Do you enjoy the good parts of audit enough to tolerate the bad parts? Or is audit just a means to pay for your secret weekend opera addiction?
The Second Question
If audit is not to blame for my generation’s unhappiness, then why are we a little sad? This shall be answered in 1 to 10 weeks time in “How to Audit (Part 13)™: Quarterlife Crisis”.