For an auditor, the first busy season can be an extremely rewarding experience. However, it can also be a tough period to navigate. Engagement timelines and deadlines, reporting to seniors, managers and shareholders and extensive client communication can make a first-year team member’s audit seem daunting. Luckily, several of our experienced team members shared tips to help you, as a first-year auditor, get the most of out your first engagements, all while staying positive:
1. Be adaptable.
Be open-minded and open to change. The learning curve will be steepest any time you embark upon a new role or land in a new position. Likewise, as an auditor, you’ll be in a constantly-changing environment. Because CPA firms like ours touch so many industries, you could be interfacing with clients in a manufacturing facility for a short period and then a few weeks later, be downtown at a corporate law firm. As a first-year auditor, it’s important that you recognize the importance of adapting to your surroundings and the specific environments and needs of your clients, as you’ll need to be relatable, regardless.
2. Research your clients.
Before you begin the various steps involved in the audit process, take time to research your clients. While you’ll certainly be getting an overview of the clients and their needs from the senior team member you’re working alongside, understanding the company, from your own perspective, will be hugely beneficial to you throughout the busy season. This could be as simple as spending some time browsing their website. In addition to understanding the larger business, be sure to read the financial statements from the prior year, understand the various accounts involved, etc. so that you can ask more intelligent questions and truly grasp the big picture goal that each of the individual tactics you’ll be executing are built to accomplish. As Brian Franklin, Audit Shareholder, shared, “to be successful [in audit], you really need to understand the company…how it works, how it makes money and what are the risks.”
3. Ask questions efficiently.
As Brian Franklin noted, “it’s unusual and unlikely not to have questions as a first-year auditor.” While Franklin and other managers and shareholders welcome questions from auditors, he also recommends asking yourself the set of questions you have first and seeing what you may be able to answer on your own. Ultimately, when your senior answers your questions, you’ll want to make sure you understand the “why” behind their answers and not simply the “what.”
Write out a list of questions and be sure to ask them at agreed upon meeting times that work for both your schedule and your senior’s. You’ll receive the information you need faster this way, and it shows your superiors you have a mutual respect for their time.
4. Write instructions down.
It’s important to be able to separate and compartmentalize the various steps involved in an audit. Your senior will undoubtedly give you instructions throughout the process, and it’s a good idea to document these instructions, as well as answers to any questions you ask along the way. Not only will this ensure you stay organized and efficient, but it likely will also serve as a toolkit you can reference when you hit stumbling blocks or have questions in the future.
5. Learn from your mistakes.
Just as first-year auditors are expected to have questions, more experienced team members also recognize that mistakes will happen. When mistakes do happen, be sure to learn from them, always aiming for improvement the next time around. As a first-year auditor, busy season gives you a great baseline of what to work on, but also gives you the ability to ask questions and get better when you’ve made an error. If and when a mistake is caught, likely in the review process, be sure to work together with your senior team member to triage it, and ask yourself “how did this happen,” “what did I miss,” “do I need more training,” or “was this a sloppy executional error?” Once you find the answers to these questions, you can fill in gaps and get better results in the future.
6. Socialize no matter what.
Being in the field for months at a time at clients’ offices can be interesting. You’re interacting with clients, first and foremost, to perform the audit, but it’s also important to get to know those you’re around in your internal, firm environment…especially when you spend more than the typical 40-hour work week with them. There are so many avenues for not only stress relief, but for information transfer, as well. First-year auditors should be open to interacting with and learning from other team members who once stood in their shoes. And at the end of the day, those leaders want you to succeed. It means they’re doing their job…so that you can do yours.
7. Look at the calendar when you start to feel overwhelmed.
More than anything, recognize that busy season does eventually come to an end, with the “this will end” date on your calendar always serving as a welcome reminder of this. It doesn’t hurt to plan a celebration or vacation for yourself just after that date, so you have something to look forward to and to reward yourself for all of your hard work!
To learn more about Weinstein Spira’s team members, including our hard-working first-year auditors, the entire audit staff and the work they do through our attest services, click here.
Founded in 1962, Weinstein Spira is a highly respected firm of experienced tax, audit, business management and estate planning advisors who proactively serve discerning, privately-held businesses and leaders in the Houston area and beyond. More information about the firm can be found at www.weinsteinspira.com.