Taking Responsibility for your Audit Career
No matter your line of work, it’s important to have personal accountability in what you do and to take charge of your career and its development. This is absolutely true for careers in audit. We guide you through what we’ve learned about how you can take responsibility for your audit career.
What are your personal career goals?
Setting goals and realistic timelines for your career establishes a great foundation from which to take responsibility for your professional development. If you want to move into a more senior role managing complex audit projects after three years or your goal is to become a financial controller after 6-8 years, have those intentions in mind as it will help you to focus and stay on track to achieving them.
Set up a regular one-to-one meeting with your manager or supervisor to find out what more you can do, how they might be able to support you and to keep them abreast of your progress. It is up to you to have a plan and to know what you’re working towards.
Training for Success
Perhaps a good place to start is the specific training and development opportunities that could advance your career. Auditors who are willing to take ownership for their own success via pursuing professional designations and certifications like CA and CPA are very attractive to employers as it demonstrates their proactivity and passion to learn and evolve with the profession.
As a junior or mid-level auditor, if you’re working for a larger organisation, for example a Big Four firm, you’ll find things like the CA program or an on-the-job rotation program readily available to you. More senior auditors may have access to initiatives like career coaching, mentor programs or leadership training. Meanwhile those at smaller firms may have to actively go in search of similar training programs or workshops. Ultimately, for someone in either position, the responsibility lies with you to extract as much as you can from whatever programs, initiatives or experiences you encounter in order to bolster your skillset and stay on track with your goals.
Always Plan Ahead
When you choose the training or courses you will undertake, be thinking not only of the job you currently have but of the job you are aiming for. That way you are positioning yourself for your next promotion. In addition to training, it is also important to be gaining practical experience – which many of the Big Four programs facilitate in giving auditors exposure across many areas of the business. Whether you are working at a big firm or small company keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to gain practical experience and perhaps openings for a lateral move or upwards move. You can also let your manager know of your interest in a certain position so that they can actively consider you.
It’s impossible to possess personal responsibility if you’re not aware of what you’re actually responsible for. For today’s audit practitioners that equates to having a real passion for actually understanding the business and the impact the numbers they’re working with have on that business. It is also their responsibility to understand how the laws and regulations affect an audit, and how new and emerging technologies can be leveraged to improve how they do their job.
Furthermore, it is an auditor’s responsibility to inspire confidence at an executive level in order to inform, educate and influence key business stakeholders as well as to earn their trust.
Don’t passively wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. If you feel a certain project or engagement could give you the exposure to develop a certain skill or help push your audit career in the direction you want, then give yourself permission to get involved. Volunteer for additional duties, don’t be afraid to step on some toes, ask questions and if the situation warrants, take the lead. Fundamentally, it is up to you to take charge of your own self-development. Keep your manager involved in the discussion, show them how serious you are about your career.
An obvious one, but with all the paperwork an auditor deals with on a daily basis, client meetings, meetings with the risk management team, the compliance team, your managers and so on it’s critical to be organised.
Saying ‘No’ is Okay, so is Asking for Help
Stay attuned to your personal strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to say no to projects or tasks that are beyond the scope of your knowledge. You are not expected to know everything, and it will become very apparent very quickly if you try to bite off more than you can chew.
However, if you are asked to join a project or perform a task that you are not currently prepared for, but think you are nearly there, let your manager know that you feel you will be able to complete the job with guidance and ask if you can have assistance or training while carrying out the work. This shows you are adept at identifying your own weaknesses, and willing to address them.
As an auditor you must be self-disciplined, self-motivated and be able to know right from wrong. In this role it is important to not only do what’s expected of you, but to action that even when no one is around to see it.