By Emily Gutierrez
There is really no “typical” day to speak of in my experience as an audit senior. I find that every day is different based on the season. My busy season spans from January to the end of May for corporate clients, during which I am hyper-focused. Then, I have a bit of a slower season working on employee benefit plans, which runs from June through October.
Most Days as a Senior Auditor
Regardless of the time of year, I try to get to the office as early as possible to beat the traffic—a common practice when commuting from Houston’s suburbs into town. With a 45-minute drive, I normally get to work by 7:30 a.m. That gives me a head start before my audit team arrives.
The very first thing I do is check emails to see if there are any messages from a client or manager, sending off a quick reply to keep the ball rolling on each of my jobs. Next, I see what work there is to get to my staff auditors. I need to stay on top of managing them and make sure they have enough work to do when they start to come through the door, between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. Once I have assigned them tasks to do, I am available to help, if needed to go over instructions, answer questions, or explain how to do something (especially if new). Some staff prefer trying things on their own, and then asking questions; others like to be guided through at least one example before trying it on their own.
Then, I start on my own work for the day. This entails completing my own sections of the audit, managing request lists to my audit clients based on what I need from them, reviewing staff work and writing the final report. It is an ongoing, continuous process to constantly go after the things we have asked for and follow up with additional requests as they arise. I may also travel to a client site for a face-to-face conversation to clarify a difficult auditing issue; and, if I happen to have a newer staff person on hand, I will bring them along to learn how to interact with clients and hold those kinds of discussions.
Before going out to a client site for long-term audits, I hold internal Weinstein Spira meetings with my audit team at our home office. In addition to staff auditors who will be with me on the job, these planning sessions include the team’s assigned manager and shareholder. We discuss the client’s current year operations, risk-assessment, develop the audit plan and the type of testing to be done for the client and any particular things that might be changing from the previous year.
Depending on the client facilities, I often get to sit together with my staff in a conference room, so we can easily collaborate; however, each assignment is different. There are usually 2-4 people working onsite, consisting of 1-2 seniors and 2-3 staff. We also maintain contact with the assigned manager and shareholder back at the Weinstein Spira office, with whom I communicate regularly regarding the progress of the job, issues we may have with the client and whether we are getting what we need. They can step in and help us if required.
Basically, what my team does is collect information about the client’s business and the risks associated with their business, take year-end numbers, analyze and ensure the accuracy of those numbers, and vouch invoices, checks and payments made. As the audit senior, I mostly delegate work to staff, but step in and do some of the testing work, as well.
Our main purpose is to prepare audit reports, so all of our fieldwork leads up to delivering a company’s financial statement for the year. This statement is sometimes required by the bank, potential investors, customers, or it may be used for internal purposes, i.e. board of directors reporting, etc.
During extended audits at a client site, I tend to work longer hours, ranging from 8 – 10 hours a day. To break up the day, I like to make sure the team goes out for lunch at a nearby restaurant. In one case, my client’s office was right by the beach, so I made sure to step out onto the sand and have lunch by the water, a great stress reliever. Who said accountants sit at their desk all day?
Communication and Follow-up
At the end of the day, I ask staff to get to a good stopping point, and then we go over what happened that day. I make a list of what they may need as far as client items for the next day. This close communication keeps us on track and in sync. On Fridays, after working hard all week, I like to boost the team’s spirit and leave a little earlier (4:00 p.m.). During the busy season, it can be hard to end the week; but if we are at a good stopping point, I remind them it will still be there on Monday.
Once we are back at the office after wrapping up a job, I meet with my manager to review the overall job accomplishments and status…what is left to do, if anything, what we may have missed, and any additional observations since they were not with us onsite.
To stay in touch with clients during the rest of the year, I will send an email on their birthday, take donuts or breakfast tacos to their office on occasion, send a holiday gift, etc. Little things like that go a long way! And in preparation for launching business with a new audit client, I make the initial contact via phone call to introduce myself so we are not strangers on day one. Building and maintaining relationships certainly helps the audit process go more smoothly.
With so much to do as an audit senior, I can honestly say there is never a dull moment!