What’s New in Audit: Budding Careers and Buoyant Futures
I spend a considerable amount of my day to day working life around accountants and auditors, and, as a veteran and intrepid reporter for CareersinAudit.com, I often ask, ’What’s new in Audit?’, slanting my question towards the careers’ end of the professional spectrum. Readers of these pages might not be surprised at my latest topic, but I have to say, for all my thirty plus years in audit, I have seldom felt such a thrilling buzz around the buoyancy of audit careers.
As one employer quipped this week, ‘the only way is up right now, we’ve got the fun back in audit!’ He’s alluding to the push by employers to get staff active and physical again, less working from home, more appreciating geographic movement again, visiting clients, teaming and bonding in the office and socialising beyond the computer screen. And while working from home and hybrid arrangements are almost certainly here to stay with much to commend them in terms of flexibility and work-life balance, this way of working is not for everyone, or at least, not all the time. I have to confess to loving my early years as an external auditor, the variety of meeting a wide diversity of clients, building new relationships and learning to work in a myriad of different organisational cultures. Being part of a small, ‘out in the field’ engagement team, we often worked under an intensity that built relationships fast, alongside rapid paced on the job learning, smoothed by banter and bonding and, more often than not, just a little bit of shared mirth. And that’s what my client means when he celebrates getting back the fun in audit… but there’s more.
A career in audit is in fact a great pathway to be on right now. You will be aware of the less than salubrious backdrop of scandal and audit-bashing traceable back to the collapse of Carillion, BHS and Thomas Cook. While the intervening pandemic has slowed down the pace of change, the last few years have given rise to close scrutiny of audit and corporate governance via the Kingman and Brydon reviews and the UK government’s announcement to replace the FRC (Financial Reporting Council) with a new watchdog ARGA (Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority). Audit and auditors are under the spotlight: ARGA’s remit will extend to embrace more PIE (Public Interest Enterprise) audits, which will bring under their scrutiny, many more audit firms, while the Big Four have agreed to demerge their consultancy arms to support audit independence. All of this points to a major overhaul of the audit marketplace with, of course, big ramifications for audit careers.
As audit fees start to move upwards, the professional practice market is seeing a robust, persistent, and ongoing demand for audit personnel at all levels. Even without an immediate business case, organisations are looking at the horizon and anticipating the growing audit resource they will need, and they are starting to build right now. Entry salaries at trainee level are on the up, and this has a knock-on effect all the way up the career ladder as firms compete for the best talent. For existing auditors, career prospects are also hot, and getting hotter. All in all, this is a great time to be training and progressing rapidly in your audit career.
Not sure you see yourself as a life-long career auditor? Well, remember that just as it’s always been, audit provides a fantastic springboard to alternative and sideways careers in commercial and not for profit organisations. It is still a deeply thorough way to build a second-to-none business grounding - and who know you might want to make it your life’s work!