Audit is a branch of assurance and one of the most common areas to go into for graduates entering the accountancy profession.
Audit is the independent examination of a company or organisation’s accounts by an outside party. An audit is normally conducted at a client’s premises by a team of auditors who work with senior management and staff at all levels. It’s an auditor’s job to go through and review a clients’ financial records, ensuring that their financial report is a ‘true and fair’ reflection of the state of the organisation and that the controls clients have in place are effective.
This generally involves spending a lot of time travelling round the country at different clients’ offices, gaining an understanding of how their business works, questioning people formally and informally about the business and going through ledgers, balance sheets and bank statements with a fine tooth-comb.
- Familiarising yourself with the client’s business
- Reviewing the organisation’s financial systems
- Checking items that appear in financial statements
- Performing tests to check financial information
- Risk analysis
- Building a relationship with the client and advising them on areas for improvement.
To become an audit trainee you will need to join a graduate training scheme with an accountancy firm and take an accountancy qualification such as the ACA.
What skills do you need?
Graduates working in audit need to be flexible and happy to travel or even relocate for the job. People skills are also vital, as you’ll be meeting new people all of the time and need to adjust and work well with different teams.
Logical reasoning and maths skills are important, but you don’t need a maths degree or even a numerically related degree to work in audit.
Pros and cons
Audit constantly presents new challenges and allows you to cover new industries and learn something new every day. However, it can be stressful as much of the work is time pressured and you may have multiple projects to manage at any one time.