From learning about new industries to traveling around the country, auditors enjoy a lot of variety in their day-to-day work. If you’re thinking of becoming an auditor, you might be wondering what a day in the life looks like: Is it mostly travel and meetings with financial executives, or do auditors mainly spend their time assessing a company’s financial reporting risks? To find out the answer, we asked the team at the CAQ (Center for Audit Quality) to share some insights into the key parts of the job.
What we discovered is that the tasks may vary from one day to the next. In fact, no two days are quite alike in the auditing field. Most auditors do a combination of the following things:
1. Team with peers to establish a game plan
While audit testing can be done autonomously, many auditors tend to work closely in teams so that they can cover as much ground as possible and check each other’s work. This work requires professional skepticism, objectivity, and good communication. Many auditors say this is the reason they enjoy their work so much. Rather than sitting behind a desk all day, they are working with their peers as a team to provide accurate financial information to investors and build trust in capital markets.
2. Meet with financial executives
Meeting with financial executives and assessing their needs is often the next step toward establishing a relationship. Once that relationship has been established, ongoing meetings allow auditors to understand how the companies they audit operate and get updates on important financial developments. In return, auditors assess financial reporting risks and develop audit strategies to mitigate those risks. The work of the auditors helps to build confidence in the financial information presented by companies.
3. Research a company’s financial history
In addition to meetings with financial executives, auditors spend a significant amount of time researching companies’ industries and learning about their prior audit history. For example, when working with a company in the tech industry, auditors are responsible for understanding current financial trends and knowing how the company they are auditing fits into the broader landscape of the industry. Prior to starting the audit process, auditors must also get a sense of how the company has performed in previous years to understand the financial challenges it has faced. In order to gain this knowledge, auditors will typically review public audit records from previous years (how many depends on how long the company has been in business) and make note of any red flags that come up.
4. Conduct site visits
Visiting the physical location of the company is another key part of an auditor’s job and usually one of the reasons why auditors travel so frequently. These site visits can be carried out for general meetings or as part of inventory observations required during the audit process. According to the CAQ, the visits can vary widely depending on the company that you are auditing. For example, they can include touring lab facilities for pharmaceutical companies or visiting warehouses owned by retailers.
5. Assess financial reporting risk
The final and most important part of an auditor’s job is assessing the risk of misstatement in the company’s financial statements. This includes evaluating and documenting their risk assessment of the company based upon meetings, research, and site visits. Auditors will then develop audit procedures to address those risks.
According to auditors interviewed by the CAQ, the profession offers two important things: variety and work-life balance. “One thing I love about public accounting is that each week is different,” explains Ben, an auditor from Chicago, who spoke to the CAQ about why he chose to become an auditor.
A diverse but stable career path, auditing offers a lot of opportunities for continued learning and growth with enough flexibility to develop a schedule that works for you.