Audit Jobs: A Beginner’s Guide
Auditors inspect financial records to ensure legal compliance. It’s an important role because this work also helps organisations to become more efficient and protect against fraud. To become an auditor, you need to be able to build strong relationships and networks, pay close attention to detail, apply critical thinking skills, and be able to work well under pressure.
The usual study route involves a degree in accounting or finance, followed by a certification offered by one of the main accounting bodies. These include:
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Certified Public Accountants Association (CPAA)
In the case of the ICAEW, which is the body that awards chartered accountancy status, study involves on-the-job training, while the ACCA and CPAA offer a range of flexible classroom, part-time, and self study options. If you choose to study full time, then it’s important to gain relevant work experience through placements or internships to help secure a job later on. Alternatively, it’s possible to complete an apprenticeship with The Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors.
When it comes to entry level auditing jobs, newly qualified practitioners can apply for positions in four different areas: investigative audit, tax audit, internal audit, and external audit.
Fraud is a problem for most businesses and once money is lost, it’s very difficult to recover. Investigative auditing jobs involve identifying perpetrators of fraud and building the legal case against them, whilst putting prevention strategies in place. The ideal candidate for this type of role is highly analytical with a strong attention to detail because it involves sifting through transactions and documents looking for evidence of malpractice that can be used to incriminate fraudsters.
In business, it’s vitally important that tax management procedures comply with legislation. Tax auditing jobs focus on tax calculations and compliance, as well as compiling audit reports for financial managers that contain recommendations for improvements. Tax laws are subject to change, so tax auditors need to keep abreast of any developments to ensure their knowledge is up to date.
Organisations need effective processes to operate efficiently and reduce their exposure to risk. Internal auditors offer an outside perspective, while still working within the company, identifying process problems and advising management on how to fix them. This is an audit job that requires a high attention to detail and outstanding mathematical skills because there’s a strong emphasis on number crunching.
External auditors, as the name suggests, are brought in from an external audit firm to inspect the financial statements of a business to ensure they’re accurate and error free. As well as auditing accounts, they also review systems and operations. The information that they provide helps businesses and shareholders to make important financial decisions. In the course of their work, external auditors identify any financial and process-related problems that might be present before recommending suitable solutions.
Businesses are keen to avoid corporate governance scandals and the bad publicity that goes with them, so demand for qualified auditors is extremely high. Each one of these different auditing fields offers outstanding career options. The best path to follow will depend on your skill set and area of interest, combined with any specialist industry knowledge that you might have.