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  • Name: Alex Pickering
  • Job Title: Audit Assistant
  • Location: London
  • University: Manchester
  • Degree: Philosophy
  • Areas of Specialism: Audit and Assurance

What is a typical day like for you?

I am mostly based at the client’s offices where I work as part of the audit team. My role is really varied and involves doing a lot of controls testing, performing analytical reviews and going through the client’s financial records such as ledgers, bank statements and fixed asset registers.
I spend a lot of time talking to the client and gaining an understanding of how their business works: how they record their transactions, what processes they follow and whether the controls in place are working effectively.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The problem-solving! I love the fact that I’m constantly facing new challenges and obstacles to overcome. I feel that I learn something new every day; I develop new skills and strengthen existing ones.

What are the most stressful parts of your job?

An audit can be very time-pressured and you may have very strict deadlines for when your work must be finished. As I often have lots of different tasks to deal with at the same time, it can be very stressful to get everything done on time, especially if it’s hard to get hold of the information you need.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into the industry?

Be flexible and enjoy the variety of work you may be given. To maximise the opportunities given to you, try to have a curious mind and be eager to learn. If you are prepared to work hard, it is a very rewarding and fulfilling industry to work in.

What was the interview process like?

I had a first one hour face-to-face interview for which I had to answer questions on my experiences and skills in areas like team-work, problem-solving and leadership.
This was followed by an assessment centre a couple of weeks later where we did e-tray exercises, a couple of group tasks and a written assignment. Finally, there was a partner interview for which I also had to prepare a presentation on a company and its financial performance.

What challenges have you come across, and how do you overcome them?

It can be quite stressful and frustrating when you can’t get hold of the information you need or if a client gets annoyed with you for asking a lot of questions. I always try and voice my worries to the more senior members of the team rather than suffer in silence; everybody knows what it’s like when you’re new at the job and the colleagues are incredibly nice and happy to help you.

What ‘soft skills’ have you found useful?

Having good people skills is one of the most essential parts of my job. You will be dealing with clients on a daily basis and you need to be sociable for it to work well. Also, you will be working as part of a team so team-working skills are essential.

Can you briefly describe an interesting/exciting project you have worked on recently?

Earlier this year, I spent four weeks as part of the audit team at one of the UK’s biggest internet-based businesses. As this is a very new and unconventional business-model, it was really interesting to learn about their business structure and revenue generation, which is very different from those of most other businesses at which I’ve worked .

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