So, you’ve passed your CPA exam and now you think you’re ready to get into the job market to start making your own money. As an auditor with a new CPA license, you have several options when looking for a job. You may choose to work for large companies or CPA firms that usually conduct the majority of global audits of public companies or those that sell their stock on market exchanges such as NASDAQ. Should you go with this option, you are more likely to start at the lower part of the corporate ladder. You’ll most probably start as a Junior Auditor and you’ll work closely with senior auditors who have years of experience under their belts.
You could also start off your audit career with small audit firms. Most of these companies consist of sole practitioners (usually those who worked for large companies before they decided to start up their own business) with a small number of other audit staff. These types of CPA firms usually audit financial statements for private companies whose stocks are closely held by a small group of investors.
Working for private or publicly traded companies is also one of your options. If you decide to take this route, you are more likely to act as an internal auditor. Another option is to work for the government where a CPA license is not mandatory. With this option you will work on auditing for state, local, and federal government.
Wherever you decide to work, you’re most likely to have some of the same responsibilities and these may include the following:
- Review, analyse, and evaluate products, processes, services, organisations, systems, and employees.
- Assess the accuracy, reliability, validity, and timeliness of organisational information, as well as the processes and sources by which that information is produced.
- Inspect the internal controls of the organisation and determine if the level of control that the organisation has have direct link to the organisation’s risk exposure. Internal control is designed to prevent data manipulation by employees.
- Ensure the effectiveness of operational and financial reporting.
Aside from a diploma and CPA license, there are certain personal traits needed to become a successful auditor in financial services. The basics are technical and ethical characteristics. You will become a successful auditor if you continue to build on these over the course of your career, which the profession defines as commitment to lifelong learning.
Other equally important characteristics are:
- Instincts and vision. As an auditor, it’s important that you instinctively understand the business of each client. You have to have the ability to identify issues ahead of time and translate their possible effects to the business. Having an inquiring mind and the urge to dig deeper to get accurate information is essential in this field.
- People skills. As an auditor, you need to understand that your job isn’t just about numbers; it’s also about the people that you work with. It’s crucial that you have the ability to deal with all types of clients and their unique situations. Some clients are not very comfortable with auditors because they see them as someone who always looks over their shoulders. In this scenario, you must have the ability to put them at ease. After all, they’ll be the one paying for the audit.
- Communication skills. Exceptional communication skills will help you build rapport not just with clients but also with the staff, managers, and partners you work with. As your job will require you to explain numbers, statistics, problems, and solutions to different people inside and outside your organisation, having the ability to articulate the facts in an easy to understand manner is very important.
So Much Opportunity
As the economy grows, more and more businesses will be established. This means that the need for auditors in financial services will grow as well. Clients will be looking for people who can set up books, provide financial advice, prepare taxes, etc. At these businesses grow, the complexity and volume of information to be reviewed by auditors, which are related to internal controls, taxes, costs, and expenditures will expand also.
Right now, there is an increased need for auditors in financial services due to greater emphasis on transparency, accountability, and controls in financial reporting. Increased scrutiny of accounting procedures and company finances will create even more opportunities for new auditors.
Job opportunities should be favourable. Auditors who have achieved professional recognition and hold a CPA license will definitely have the best job prospects. Applicants will sometimes also have an advantage if they have a master’s degree in business administration or in accounting.
Of course, one of the things that you would want to investigate before you start any job is the salary you can expect. Median annual wages of auditors who are working in financial services range from £42,000-£80,000 (USD$55,000 - USD$103,000) depending on skills, qualifications, and years of experience.