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The importance of resilience when building a career in Audit

Recent media coverage has thrust the profession into the limelight, but not in the way that auditors would have hoped. Arnab Datta describes how working against this current backdrop of intense scrutiny requires determination, strong technical knowledge, professional scepticism and integrity.

September 2019

Not many people would disagree that training to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant while working in Audit is a steep learning curve and provides a solid grounding in business. However, upon qualification, there is an inevitable attrition of staff with people deciding to embark on different career paths, including Transaction Services, Restructuring and Management Consulting.

So, what are the benefits of continuing and progressing in the Audit profession?

To name but a few, there is flexibility in terms of location, independence while working, the opportunity to build strong relationships with clients and an ability to make a real impact in your firm. The variety of audit work across firms and sectors means that you can typically find something that you are interested in on a more personal level, whether it is in the technology, media, retail, energy, financial services or public sectors. 

Working at the larger firms enables you to gain different perspectives through networking, not only across service lines, ranging from Tax to Advisory, but also with overseas firms. For example, when there are acquisitions, the Transaction Services team will obtain information and understanding of the business from the Audit team. Restructuring teams working on insolvencies may question ‘Why did the Audit team not see the warning signs earlier?’

The continuous evolution of audit

Audit work is ever-evolving and new areas have emerged such as Data Analytics. Understanding trends in businesses’ key performance indicators, such as revenue, adds real value to stakeholders. Although technology has added another dimension to audits, it has not replaced the human element. A bot may be able to process data quickly and populate charts but the analysis, key judgments and ultimate opinions will always need to come from people.

‘What does the data actually show? What do the anomalies represent? Why has this unusual activity occurred?’ – these are questions that need to be solved by auditors through deep discussion and consideration of the specific issues. 

Presentation skills for internal and external meetings are very important and develop at a fast pace for those working in the audit arena. Experiences can include presenting and discussing issues at client meetings through to passing on knowledge while facilitating training courses and taking part in recruitment activities.

Knowledge sharing is critical in ensuring that the next generation understand not only how to perform tasks, but why the right way is so important. Instilling an ethical culture and encouraging others to have the confidence to speak up when they become aware of something unusual is just as important internally as it is while working with clients.

In summary, there is no typical experience in Audit and there are a whole host of opportunities to keep auditors engaged throughout their careers. For those of you who find it to be a fulfilling career, it is important to inspire others to become auditors and be ambassadors for the accountancy profession as a whole. 

Arnab Datta is a member of the Younger Members London committee and Assurance Manager at EY. 

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