Real Life Career Stories: Sam Moffitt - Audit Associate at Azets UK
Taking an unusual path into an audit career, Sam made the move from freelance trumpet player to an Audit Associate at Azets UK. We find out what attracted him to accountancy, what he enjoys about his role, and what tips he has for others looking to start their careers in audit.
Tell us a bit about you and your background
I was born in Portsmouth and spent most of my childhood either at school, playing music in local and regional bands, or watching Portsmouth FC at Fratton Park. As I went through school, I began to spend more and more time listening and playing to music and won a place in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain aged 14, which gave me the opportunity to play under world class conductors and in the best concert halls in the country, including live on the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on four occasions. I was also a brass finalist on BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2010 – possibly the most bizarre experience of my life to date as the BBC sent a two-man camera team to Portsmouth to follow me around for three days, interviewing my friends, family, and schoolteachers…
I left Portsmouth at 18 to study Music at University of Oxford, and after this moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with Distinction from my MA in trumpet performance. From this point, I was a freelance trumpet player and music teacher. Some highlights from this time include a 3-month run in the Garrick Theatre in the West End as part of an on-stage band in the play The Entertainer, produced by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company and starring Kenneth Branagh, as well as playing on the X Factor, at well-known venues such as Ronnie Scott’s in London, and at festivals across the UK.
These days, I teach the occasional music lesson and sometimes play gigs at the weekends with some of my friends who are still full-time freelance musicians, but I am enjoying also being able to plan my weekends without always waiting for the late call for a gig, and being free when my partner is too!
What attracted you to pursue a career in Finance and in particular Accountancy?
Before COVID-19, I was beginning to realise that, whilst it had been a lot of fun, and absolutely an itch that I had had to scratch, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a freelance musician for the rest of my life. Once the first lockdown hit, it felt like a ‘now or never’ moment, so I began researching various graduate schemes and training jobs. However, the ‘lightbulb moment’ came when I was sat on my sofa in between teaching virtual trumpet lessons on Skype, watching the cricket. I caught myself obsessively analysing the batsmen’s strike rates, or the bowler’s averages, and googling whether I could find out more detailed breakdowns of the statistics to see whether Jimmy Anderson really is better in his late 30s than he was in his late 20s… I thought that there must be a career where that kind of thinking and obsession with comparative numerical information was a useful skill, and it really didn’t take long to land on accounting!
What would a typical day or week as an Audit Associate involve for you?
One of the best things about working in a team of this size, with most of our clients being small or medium sized companies/charities/non-profit organisations, is that there isn’t a ‘typical’ week on an audit. The work varies depending on the type of client and the services that they need. However, either at the beginning of the first week of the audit or some time before the actual audit starts, we will have a planning meeting with the partner and manager for the job. In this meeting, we will discuss the client, the specific risks, and factors that we need to consider due to the type of client that they are and the way that they operate, and then will form a plan as to what work each of us will be doing during the audit itself. We then usually first focus on the areas that we think we will need extra information from the client and send out requests to them for this information. For the remainder of the audit fieldwork, the associates generally carry out the testing itself, with supervision from seniors and managers. Towards the end of the audit, there may be review points to look at – this is where the manager has reviewed the audit file and would like extra evidence on a certain balance or tests to be tweaked slightly to give us the evidence needed to form the audit opinion.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
I am very much someone who enjoys being able to see tangible progress in anything that I do, and audit is a great field for this. We are all set manageable workloads, with a clear list of tasks and audit areas to work through. As we complete tests, we sign them off on the file and a nice green tick appears next to the working paper on our audit software. On a bigger scale, the amount of personal progression and development of skills that you will notice as you do more audit/accounts work and pass more exams is incredibly satisfying.
What do you think other people should know about this role or industry?
The main thing that I was unaware of before I started at Azets is that working in accounting (and especially audit) is one of the best ways to learn about business in general. We spend lots of our time pouring over the information generated by a business in their day-to-day operations and visit various businesses when we go to do audit work on site or perform a stocktake. There are very few other careers which can give you the amount of exposure and experience in dealing with businesses that you will get from working for an accounting company.
Do you have any top tips for qualifications, skills or experience to gain to succeed in your role?
During the lockdown, I did a one-year master’s degree in Finance and Accounting, all live online. For me, I felt that this was necessary, as my most recent relevant qualification or education was my maths GCSE that I sat in 2008! However, this is not strictly necessary. There are plenty of associates in our office who joined with little/no experience in accounting – even as I look around the office now, I can see a veterinary medicine graduate and a history and politics graduate, both of whom came straight to the office from their degrees. The great thing about this role is that it is designed to give you the training and experience that you need to build a career in finance and accounting on the job.
Interested in what a career at Azets could look like for you? Take your audit career to the next level and explore their current audit opportunities here.
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