How to Audit (Part 5): Are Auditors Human?

Are auditors different from the rest of society? This article will lower the barriers between them so that we can all hold hands under perfect blue skies.

From The Same Crop

Yes, auditors are human. What other answers are there?

The trainees are currently at college studying for exams. We can wear what we wish and take leisurely one hour lunches in the park. At first glance, we just look like a group of unemployed students. The bulk comes from regular universities: Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Warwick and Durham. We support the same football teams, listen to the same music and talk about the same things. Our mundane aim is to lead secure, quiet lives with a stable income – all the same as everyone else.

unemployed students
Auditors are the same. By Taivasalla


A Breed Apart

But look more carefully at the unemployed students you will notice some differences: the designer sunglasses (Ray Bans inevitably), the insatiable appetite and ability to pay for daily Starbucks Lattes, the intellectual conversations about the merits of taking two calculators to exams. It is not the same.

So, auditors are human, but of a distinct kind. To explain, all dogs are dogs, but only some are Border Collies (who incidentally rank number 1 in Coren’s Intelligence of Dogs).

Border Collie
A Border Collie performing a stock count (by Corrado Dearca)

These characteristics set apart auditors:

1) Devastating Scrabble Players
Auditors are clever. I said earlier that they came from ordinary universities. But the true meaning of that is they come from good families, came the top of good schools, scored a 2:1 degree from a good university, passed the psychometric testing and beat other good graduates. How can this not be scrabble playing elite?

2) Tidy Bedrooms
Auditors are organised. This gives them the foresight to apply for a graduate job before actually graduating. It also gives them the ability to manage work, exams, social lives and lip reading classes without the need of a time machine.

3) Keen Runners
Auditors are hard working. The industry has a reputation for long hours. This attracts auditors to the discipline, grind, pain and sheer satisfaction of running. On the basis of the regular emails requesting sponsorship for some run, each auditor runs 3.7 marathons per year.

4) Safe With Your PIN Number
Auditors are reliable and accountable. In the face of all adversity and danger, the audit work will always be complete.

The Change

I have described the model of professionalism, but I am not close to that. Everyone still makes mistakes and still learns, even the partners. However, that process of change from student to professional is most stark among the trainees. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and experience in my two years so far. My expectations have changed – Pizza Express has turned from a treat to a chore. Yet, a lot of trainees still hold their student-dreams of travelling, pursuing their real passions and making a difference to society. Change is natural with or without a job, but working for a professional services firm makes it much faster.

So in just one article I say that auditors are like everyone else, but are an elite, and the trainees are transitioning from studenthood to the elite. It’s a flaky, unsatisfying conclusion. But (in a pretentious and noble-sounding way), that is life.

Last Day Teaching


I’ve turned in my textbooks; cleared my desk; moved my photo to the “Former Teachers” wall. I hope that my students learnt some English and didn’t get bored by my jokes.

Teaching was an enjoyable experience because teachers are respected in China. Imparting knowledge to other is a satisfying experience for most people. Below are some thoughts about it all:

  • Ban on Chinese – I banned Chinese in the classroom to the point of screaming at students to use English only. This is a fundamental law in teaching theory. However, some days I gave up because there seemed to be no other way to teach. Some students can’t seem to escape thinking in Chinese.
  • Differences in Western and Chinese learning styles – My lessons are proactive and encourage students to talk as much as possible and ask questions. Traditionally, the Chinese students learn by passively listening to the teacher. Should a Western language be taught in a Western style?
  • Chinese English Teachers I’ve met students that have been learning English since before I was born but have not managed to go beyond the elementary levels. This reflects the lack of native teachers in Chinese primary schools and the emphasis on reading and writing, rather than communication.
  • Whiteboard or blackboard? – You decide.
  • Do good students overcome bad teachers, or do good teachers overcome bad students? – I’m saying that learning language is a partnership between student and teacher.
  • English is definitely harder to learn than Chinese.

If any former students wish to make a complaint then please leave a comment below: