How to Transition Out of Audit
If you’re planning a move away from your career in audit, the key things to consider are where your skills can easily transfer, where your experience can add the most value and what your career objectives are.
Drivers for moving out of audit vary and can derive from social influence as audit professionals observe their peers moving into, what they deem to be, ‘cooler’ roles within financial services; changes in personal situations and priorities; and, of course, salary.
You must be sure to carefully consider your next move so that you make the most of the opportunity to get it right.
- Thoroughly research all career options open to you: your onward move could see you become anything from business development manager, financial advisor, or mortgage broker, to retail banker, transaction services manager or even financial journalist.
- Speak to people in the industry/role you’re interested in to get a better sense of what the work and day to day is like in practice.
- Have a clear path to your new career, whether that involves further training, obtaining additional certifications or simply networking with the right people.
If you were to transition from audit to business, you’ll be facing a move away from your structured environment into an area that requires you to have a deep understanding of that one business, and the ability to build leadership skills.
If you’re coming from an audit role within the Big Four, you may well opt to move in-house with one of the businesses you’ve interacted with in your tenure at the likes of PwC, EY, KPMG or Deloitte. Exiting that safety blanket of structured and process-based workload that defines working in audit, can be a shock to the system. What is important, is how you manage it.
No Structure, No Problem
Perhaps that scheduled, fixed procedure-approach is what is spurring you away from audit. In that case, the unpredictability of your new environment may be just the thing you need to reinvigorate you, professionally. So, prepare for the unexpected. Try and take a flexible approach and learn to manage your time as you will have to balance tasks, meetings and projects in tandem.
How will you use your skills?
Your role away from audit is likely to be more diverse, which means tapping into a broader range of technical skills. One of the biggest differences will be the shift from looking almost exclusively backwards to looking ahead as well. Working in industry, you will find yourself analysing data in order to forecast budgets and trends that will help the business make informed decisions.
Get to know the business
Stepping away from audit, also means stepping out of a mindset governed by accuracy and accounts. Understanding the business model, and how that relates to an array of other factors is key to helping you make a successful transition. So, you should not only be probing into the business’s costs, but understanding why and how they contribute to profitability, and where they’re impacting the business.
What’s your Value Add?
Working in audit, you were delivering a specific service. Moving into industry, positions you in a role that is supporting the business as a whole, and with that in mind, you must find ways to add value.
So, take the time to find out what the senior stakeholders in the business consider the top priorities, and equally problems the business is facing. Then think of how you can be of use in realising those priorities and tackling those problems in a successful way. Be proactive.
Be a People Person
The life of an audit professional would have seen you moving between different teams and clients, and perhaps spending a large portion of time travelling to those clients. Once you move into industry, you’re likely to become a permanent fixture in one spot, in one team, with the same people day in day out.
This means honing your people and relationship skills. Not to mention your communication skills as you branch away from the purely technical conversations that dominated your audit career, and instead find yourself working alongside people from all manner of professional backgrounds.
You may have some management experience to bring to the table, if you led audit teams during your previous positions. If you are moving into a leadership role, there is a necessary ability to navigate different personality types and varying degrees of motivation from those in your team.
So, whichever direction your post-audit trajectory should take, make sure to have first considered every possible angle and where you see yourself most comfortably fitting.