| James Innes

A Career as an Auditor


The objective of an audit varies depending upon whether it is an external audit required by law or an internal audit, which can be conducted for a wide range of purposes.  An external audit is used to assess the financial status of a business from an independent perspective with the aim of obtaining an accurate reflection of the profit and loss for a given year.  An internal audit can involve a full and comprehensive review of profits, stock levels, wages or costs and is conducted by employees within the organisation itself.

On a daily basis, the role of an Auditor can include analysing company accounts, monitoring financial transactions and highlighting potential risks to the business.  Internal Auditors can also be responsible for assessing the viability of company processes and procedures, and making recommendations for potential improvements.

Auditors may be required to travel extensively to client sites and the role can involve working unsociable hours if there are deadlines to achieve.

Entry requirements

Computers are used extensively in this line of work to analyse and interpret information and produce reports.  Problem-solving skills are essential as is attention to detail and strong business acumen.  An appreciation of the Data Protection Act is important as the information handled may be confidential or sensitive, particularly when auditing local and central government departments.

Statutory company audits can only be completed by Qualified Chartered Accountants who are members of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) or the Association of International Accountants (AIA) although members of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) can also conduct public sector audits.  Internal audits can be completed by members of any of these bodies as well as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).  Information on the achievement of accountancy qualification can be found in the article on Accountancy on this website.  Qualified accountants must have at least two years experience, and have completed an audit qualification and practising certificate, before they are authorised to conduct audits. 

Progression opportunities

Chartered or certified accountancy firms employ External Auditors as do the National Audit Commission and the Audit Commission.  Internal Auditors are employed within a wide variety of organisations and industry sectors and many Auditors choose to specialise in a particular area such as taxation.  Opportunities are available to work overseas in international accountancy firms or with private organisations.

The salary for an auditor is relatively high with London salaries being up to 20% higher than in the rest of the UK.  Progression is possible up to the level of Senior Audit Manager and it is possible to operate in a self-employed capacity. 

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