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You are probably at
that point of your life where you are at cross roads regarding what you want to
do in the future, that is, your future career and how to get there. Well then,
if you have a deep love for accounting or dream of becoming an auditor, this is
definitely for you. You are probably wondering how you are going to fulfill
this dream. Follow these complete pointers to be that great and amazing auditor
you have always envisioned.

    On
your quest to be an auditor, you have to ask yourself the big question; why do
you want to be an auditor? You may probably like the prestige associated with
working with the big four; Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Ernst & Young. You may
want to be an auditor to be a hero, to expose scandals in big companies like
Cynthia Cooper, the vice president of internal auditing who discovered the
fraud at WorldCom. Auditing encompasses more than this. According to ISA 200
(International Standards on Auditing), auditing is defined in line with its
objective of expressing an opinion, of the auditor, whether the financial
statements are prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with an
identified financial reporting framework.

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       The first step to becoming an auditor is
getting trained and qualified but first you need a secondary school degree.
Next, you follow these steps:

Ø  Get
an Undergraduate Degree in Accounting. This aids early specialization as topics
like government loans and auditing are covered. A piece of advice: complete an
internship; this gives you an edge in the business world.

Ø  Consider
a Graduate Degree. Most employers prefer individuals with graduate degrees.
This may include being a Master of Business Administration, or a Master of
Science of Accounting. Also, it is advisable to focus on internal auditing
although most schools focus on this.

Ø  Become
Professionally Certified. It is also advisable to gain some work experience and
some educational experience. These are sometimes the examination requirements
from professional associations as they are common avenues to career advancement
as an auditor. Although certifications are not required, they guarantee a
certain level of competency. Also, choose the right certificate. (Auditor
Training Programs and Requirements, 2018)

        You are probably wondering how you might
become certified. This, as you may already know, requires planning and setting
your priorities straight. You need to let go of things that might deviate your
attention from the ultimate goal, which is being a certified auditor. In
Nigeria, You need to be a chartered accountant in order to be duly recognized
an auditor. This may take about three to four years depending on how focused
you are. It is advisable to take the Association of Accountancy Bodies in West
Africa (ATSWA) program which is offered in many universities. Also, gaining
work experience from top firms also eases some of the challenges most
individuals face trying to be certified as you will already know the workings
of the industry. You can also follow this complete guide if you wish to be
certified an internal auditor:

Step
1: Find out which certificate is right for you. In Nigeria, the types of
certificates include:

Ø  Certification
in control self-assessment® (CCIA)

Ø  Certified
Government Auditing Professional® (CGAP)

Ø  Certified
Financial Service Auditor® (CFSA)

Ø  Certification
in Risk Management Assurance® (CRMA)                                           

Take
the above exams if you do not meet the CIA program education and experience
eligibility requirements. They are all one-part exams. Although the most
globally accepted certificate is the

Ø  Certified
Internal Auditor® (CIA) certificate. It is a three part exam.

The
next step is to find out if you are eligible to take the CIA exam. The requirements
to write the CIA exams are:

Ø  3-4
years university degree or 2 years post-secondary education and 5 years
verified experience in internal audit or its equivalent, or 7 years verified
experience in internal audit or its equivalent.

Ø  Work
experience. Twenty four months’ work experience or a master’s degree can
substitute for 12 of the 24 months.

Ø  Character
Reference signed by a CIA, CGAR or any other common auditing certificate holder
or the candidate’s supervisor.

Ø  Get
a Proof of Identification. This could be an official current passport or
national identity card.

You may be lucky enough
to have an ACCA certificate. This takes away the need to meet the work
experience or educational requirements. In USA, educational requirements do not
need to be met if one has an Association of Certified Chartered Accountant (ACCA)
certificate. Now, all you need to do is register and prepare for the exam by
practicing some past questions. Finally, take the exam and receive your
certificate. (The Institute of Internal
Auditors, 2018)

           Haven been certified a public
accountant, you can now be called an auditor. You may wish to have a specialization,
a branch of auditing you cherish most which you wish to be known renowned for.
I will later on present to you a comprehensive list of specializations you can go
crazy choosing from.

 Before we go on to that, remember that audit
itself is a specialized branch in accounting. There are two major areas of
specialization in auditing. This simply means that you could decide to be an
internal auditor or an external or statutory auditor. Others aspects of audit
you might wish to consider might include secretarial and compliance auditing,
information technology auditing, quality management, project management auditing,
water management auditing and energy conservation auditing.

             Auditing is so versatile that you
can practically work in any organization of your interest. You can work in very
many different industries like health or petroleum. You could even feed your
creative juices by working in a graphics or film making firm.

       As an internal auditor, as the name
implies, you will be employed by the company or organization for which you are
to perform audits. It will be required of you to provide information to the
board, managers, and other stakeholders of that firm on the accuracy of their
financial statements and the efficacy of their internal system. As an internal
auditor, you can work in any of the businesses listed below:

Ø  Hospital
and Medical Centers:  Ever felt like
working for a non- profit industry that offers a great specialization for
auditors? Luckily for you, all of the larger medical chains and centers have an
internal audit department and you could be part of them, if you aspire to.

Ø  Healthcare
Insurance: If your careers of interest include finance and insurance, living
your dream careers becomes a reality as the need for qualified and educated
internal auditors in the healthcare insurance industry has been on the rise in these
recent years.

Ø  Large
Corporate Businesses:  Being an internal
auditor also gives you the opportunity of working with large corporate
companies as they have a large internal audit department. You will be saddled
with the responsibility of looking at the financial reports to ensure that they
are accurate and complete before the external auditors come in for their
independent audit.

Ø  College
and Universities: These institutions are also a great specialization for
auditors. This industry also has specialized rules and standards that are
unique to the field. Your duties could include looking at internal controls and
ensuring compliance with established regulations including both financial and
others.

               
However, if you feel that you are not cut out to be an internal auditor.
You have the option of becoming an external auditor. External auditors work in independent
firms engaged by the client, which are sometimes businesses. These businesses,
subject to the audit, require an auditor to express an opinion on the company’s
financial statements in order to detect frauds and errors.  External auditors perform audits in
accordance with the specific laws or rules of the financial statements of a
company, government entity, other legal entity or organization. He is
independent of the entity being audited. As an external auditor, you must be a
member of one of the recognized professional accountancy bodies, for example, the
Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAN) which is the best known accounting
professional body in Nigeria. External auditors normally address their reports
to the shareholders of the corporation. In the United States, certified public
accountants are the only authorized non- governmental external auditors who may
perform audits and attestations on an entity`s financial statements and provide
reports on such audits for public review. In the UK, Canada and other
Commonwealth nations, Chartered Accountants and Certified General Accountants
perform that role.

             As regards the other areas of
auditing aforementioned, Information Technology Audit, or Information Systems
Audit is an examination of the management controls within an Information
Technology (IT) infrastructure. The evaluation of obtained evidence determines
if the information systems are safeguarding assets, maintaining data integrity,
and operating effectively to achieve the organization’s goals or objectives.

              Energy Conservation Audit deals
with the inspection, survey and analysis of energy flow for energy conservation
in a building. Energy conservation focuses on the reduction of the amount of
energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output. This
might just be the area for you, if you have an interest in science.

    Haven gone through all these and after being
certified an auditor, you may have to start as a trainee or a staff accountant,
if you are just taking up a job in an external audit firm. It is very likely
that you yearn to be at the top of the firm with the “big boys”. You may have
to hold on to that thought, as getting there requires hard work and sacrifice
as it may take years to get there. Below is a typical hierarchy of an audit
firm:

Ø  Staff
Accountant: This is the first position you will be in when entering the chartered
accountant profession. You will most likely perform the more detailed routine
audit tasks.

Ø  Senior
Accountant: also known as the supervisor. You can get to this position after
two or more years’ experience in public auditing. Your new duties will include
being in charge of audit fieldwork. You will play a major role in conducting
the audit assignment of the client’s business. You will also supervise the work
of the audit staff hence the other name of this position which is supervisor.
Note that your work will be subject to the review and approval of the manger
and the partner.

Ø  Manager:
the work of the manager is to help the seniors plan their audit programs and to
also review and guide the work done by the seniors. He is responsible for
determining the audit procedures applicable to specific audits and for
maintaining uniform standards of fieldwork. Getting to this position requires
at least five years’ experience. You also need to be a whiz at tax laws,
accounting standards and government regulations. You are mostly likely to
specialize in accounting if made a manager in the industry.

Ø  Partner:
the last position and highest position in an audit firm and by no means the
easiest, the partners are the owners of the audit firm. Also known as
directors, they are heavily involved in the planning of the audit, the
evaluation of the results and determination of the audit opinion. He may also
delegate much work to the managers and seniors. Being a partner also gives one
the duties of maintaining contacts with clients, resolving controversies that may
arise and attending the client’s stockholders’ meetings to answer any question
regarding the financial statements or the auditor’s report. You finally become
the person who makes the final decisions involving complex judgments. (Rick H, Roger D, Arnold S,Phillip W, 2005)

       You
probably cannot wait to be an acclaimed auditor but getting there requires you
gathering many years of work experience in one or many audit firms. You may now
even have the FCA title at the end of your name. After gathering some years of
experience, give or take, four to seven years, you can now be said to be
upwardly mobile in the audit field. Hold on though, you might want to take note
that you become more experienced every time you carry out an audit and ensure
the strict compliance of financial statements to international financial
statement standards (IFRS).

         If after many years of hard work to
become an auditor and some years of working as one, you become tired and bored of
your job, bear in mind that you could go for a change of job content. This
could involve switching from being an internal auditor to an external auditor
or vice versa. You could also switch from one industry to another. Let us say
for example, you worked in a hospital as an auditor, you could move on to
another industry. This could be the entertainment industry if you wish to spice
up your job content. Bear in mind that auditing is not a static career which
requires that you are either an auditor or are not. There are many careers in
auditing and below is a list of them:

Ø  Advisory 

Ø  Assistant
Audit Manager

Ø  Assurance 

Ø  Audit
Assistant 

Ø  Audit
Consultant 

Ø  Business
/ Corporate Auditor

Ø  Change
Management 

Ø  Compliance
& Regulation 

Ø  Corporate
Governance

Ø  Cyber
Security 

Ø  External
Auditor 

Ø  External
Audit Senior 

Ø  External
Audit Manager 

Ø  External
Audit Senior Manager

Ø  External
Audit Partner 

Ø  Internal
Auditor

Ø  Internal
Audit Senior 

Ø  Internal
Audit Manager 

Ø  Internal
Audit Senior Manager

Ø  Internal
Audit Head of Department 

Ø  Internal
Audit Director

Ø  Internal
Controls 

Ø  IT
Auditor 

Ø  IT
Audit Senior 

Ø  IT
Audit Manager 

Ø  IT
Audit Senior Manager 

Ø  IT
Audit Director / Partner

Ø  Quality
Assurance

Ø  Risk

Ø  Tax                                                                             
 (CareersinAudit.com, 2018)

            After going through some change of
job content, you get to a certain place in your career where you decide that
you want to practice independent of any audit firm. This idea probably strikes
your mind; starting your own audit firm. Realize that this might take you a
huge amount of effort and that you also need to put a lot of hard work into it.
But before I get on into how you can start your own audit firm, you may need a
few pointers from the histories of the big four audit firms in the world;
Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG.

   Originally known as Deloitte Touche
Tohmatsu, Deloitte is the top audit firm in the world. It rakes in over
thirty-eight billion dollars every year. Founded by William Welch Deloitte,
George Touche and Admiral Nobuzo Tohmatsu. William Welch Deloitte opened his
first office in 1845, at the young age of 25, opposite the bankruptcy court in
Basingball street, London. George Touche was known for his flair, integrity,
integrity and expertise. He formed George A. Touche & Co. in 1899. Later
on, in 1900, along with John Niven, they set up Touche, Niven & Co. Their
offices soon spread across the USA and Canada attracting a lot of clients.
Tohmatsu, who was certified a public accountant at the age of 57 in 1952. You
would think his age discouraged him from pursuing his accounting dreams but
this late bloomer, formed along with Iwa Tomita, Tohmatsu & Co. He was even
the president of the Japanese Institute Of Chartered Accountants. Deloitte was
formed when these three great companies merged.

     Ernst & Young also known as EY was
formed by Arthur Young, who had a great interest in investments and banking.
This interest led him to form Arthur Young & Co. in Chicago, USA.  Ernst & Young was also formed by A.C
Ernst, a bookkeeper even in high school. These brothers started Ernst &
Ernst in 1903. They were the first to bring up the idea that accounting
information could be used to make business decisions. As early as 1924, they
had already allied with prominent British firms, Young with Broad Paterson
& Co. and Ernst with Whinney Smith & Whinney. In 1979, Ernst’s original
agreement led to the formation of Ernst & Whinney. In 1989, these two firms
merged to form Ernst and Young.

      KPMG was formed in 1987. It was formed from a
merger with a merger of Peat Marwick International (PMI0 and Klynveld Main
Geordeler (KMG) and their individual member firms. The name KPMG was formed
from the initials of the following names:

Ø  K
stands for Klynveld. He founded the firm Klyvend Kraayenhof & Co. in
Amsterdam in 1917.

Ø  P
stands for Peat. William Barclay Peat founded the accounting firm William
Barclay Peat & Co. in London in the year 1870.

Ø  M
stands for Marwick. James Marwick founded the accounting firm Marwick, Mitchell
& Co. with Roger Mitchell in 1897 in New York City

Ø  G
for Geordeler. Dr. Reinhardt Geordeler was for many years chairman of Deutsche
Treuhand-Gesellschaft and later chairman of KMG merger.

In
1987, Peat Marwick International (PMI) and Klynveld Main Goerdeler (KMG) and
their member firms joined forces to form KPMG

      PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) was created
by a merger of Coopers &Lybrand and Price Waterhouse. These individuals
have roots dating back to 150 years. In 1865, Price, Waterhouse & co. was
formed from a partnership between Samuel Lowell Price. William H.  Holyland and Edwin Waterhouse. In 1854,
William cooper formed Cooper brothers. In 1898, Robert H. Montgomery, William M.
Lybrand, Adam A. Ross Jr., and his brother T. Edward Ross formed Lybrand Ross
Brothers and Montgomery in Philadelphia. In 1957, Cooper brothers & Co.
(UK), McDonald, Currie and Co.(Canada), and Lybrand, Ross Bros, & Montgomery
(US), forming Coopers & Lybrand. In 1990, Coopers & Lybrand merged with
Deloitte Haskins & Sells in a number of countries around the world.
Finally, in 1998 Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged to form
PricewaterhouseCoopers.    (Rick H, Roger D, Arnold S,Phillip W, 2005)

          Going through all of these histories, you
will notice the following trends:

Ø  Starting
an audit firm requires being a chartered accountant, especially one who is a hard
worker.

Ø  Have
a business plan-You have to draft a business plan for the firm and for this
plan to be effective the auditors should be able to:

Ø  Market
the firm

Ø  Hold
the firm to high standard

Ø  Make
sure the firm is doing it for the right reasons

Ø  Select
your target market 

Ø  Seek
help of advisers when needed

Ø  Hire
the right employees. You need to get appropriate staff. You might want to align
yourself with the best professionals in the field. It is even better to be the
dumbest one in   your organization.

Ø  You
also need to get your own name as this affects the branding of the company. If
you are already well known as a renowned auditor, naming your company after
yourself might just be a great idea.

Ø  Get
your own office. It is advisable to position in a strategic area where you
might get a lot of clients.

Ø  Consider
offering more than one service to your clients. Most audit companies offer a
wide range of services which include auditing, accounting, tax management and
consulting.

Ø  In
the long run, it is advisable to form a merger with other audit firms. This
opens up your client base and gives you more sway in the business world.

      Towards the end of a successful career in
audit, it is important that you already have a retirement plan. Retirement is
that point where a person stops employment completely. As an auditor you should
have a pension plan. Some firms also pay their retiring workers a gratuity. If
you eventually end up having an audit firm, you can receive dividends from the
firm even when you are retired. Being a partner also gives you the advantage of
being involved in the firm even after retirement.

      An audit firm also has a corporate social
responsibility (CSR). Firms such as KPMG organize debates for students. As an
auditor, you could contribute to your society by enlightening your society
about financial matters. Many auditors give career talks to students to spark
their interests in accounting and auditing. Nowadays, auditors storm secondary
schools to give them accounting classes. Accounting firms could also give awards
to successful accounting students. This form of encouragement and recognition could
spur them on to be the greatest accountants and auditors.

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