CareersinAudit.com has taken the title of ‘Best Job/Careers Board’ at the recent Recruiter Awards. But what is a career in audit? When it comes to considering a career in the finance sector, roles in audit often attract less attention than those in banking, brokerage and accountancy. So this blog asks: could audit be for you?
Firstly, what are the key skills needed to succeed in a career in audit?
- Do you enjoy the challenge of working through complex problems?
- Do you have an aptitude for working with numbers?
- Are you as happy focusing on the nitty-gritty of a problem as looking at the bigger picture?
- Are you confident in drawing your own conclusions from information and talking to others about what you’ve found?
If you answered yes to the above, your skills could be a good match, so what’s involved?
Auditors specialise in examining how an organisation functions and conducts its business, and the validity and legality of its accounting records. Auditors work with a wide range of organisations from across the commercial and public sectors, not only those providing financial services.
As an internal auditor, you will focus on assessing how well risks are being managed and how effectively internal systems and processes are working within the organisation you are auditing. The scope of audits can vary significantly and often you will be looking beyond financial and accounting risks and examining aspects of the organisation such as reputation, growth, ethics and environmental sustainability. You will report to the organisation’s senior management and give advice on making improvements. You might work as part of an in-house internal auditing team within a single organisation or you might work for a specialist firm and carry out internal audits with a variety of organisations on a consultancy basis.
As an external auditor, on the other hand, you will be independent of the organisation you are auditing and you will report to its owners, which might be shareholders, the government or the general public depending on the nature of the organisation. You will be responsible for determining whether their financial records are complete, accurate and prepared in accordance to the set laws. Those same laws will generally define the scope and nature of your audits, that is to say obligatory and confined to financial aspects of the organisation.
How do you get started in audit? A degree in accountancy, economics, finance, business studies or IT can be beneficial. But if you can show that you have the right skills to succeed, graduates from any discipline can get into audit.
If you want to work as an external auditor, you will need a professional accounting qualification, either as a chartered accountant or chartered public finance accountant. You do not need an accountancy qualification to be an internal auditor, but it could be helpful when it comes to career progression. You would work towards your qualification as part of your job with the support of your employer, so it’s not essential for entry-level roles. But it is important to consider whether further study and juggling this with full-time paid work is something you want to do.
Work experience with accountancy and consultancy firms, through summer internships and work placements, will also increase your chances of getting a job in audit. For help finding work experience, book a 1-2-1 appointment with a Careers Consultant to explore your options.
While roles for auditors are available with the ‘Big Four’ – KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte – remember that roles can be found with specialist firms of all sizes, as well as in-house positions for internal auditors with larger commercial and public sector organisations. The graduate scheme offered by the National Audit Office is another option if you’re interested in public sector audit.
- Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)
- Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants (CIPFA)
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
Alternative careers also sometimes overlooked in the finance sector and with similar skills profiles to audit include: