When we think of a career in audit, our minds automatically take us to the Cayman Islands where a bank just off the tarmac at the Grand Cayman International Airport is housing millions of dollars of fraudulent funds.
Though, a career in audit doesn’t always mean working to uncover white-collar criminals, audit is actually one of the biggest money making avenues for the big four every single year. If you like the idea of examining a company’s financial performance for a living, a career in auditing might be right for you. As the business world continues to evolve a career in internal audit is becoming one of the most popular and interesting routes for accountants to explore, and too, it is a great springboard to a career in any role within finance.
The common misconception is that internal audit will be the same as practise audit. Whilst this may have been true 15 years ago, businesses have changed so dramatically that now internal audit is one of the most in demand functions in a company. Almost every large business operating in the country would hire an internal audit manager to, “make sure the house is clean before your parents return”, which doesn’t just mean at tax time, but every single day. Simply, an internal auditor spends all year testing controls to ensure operating effectiveness – that a company is working at their full potential.
An internal auditor is continually looking to improve processes to make the work of a company more efficient.
So, in a typical day they could be doing anything from examining internal processes, reviewing the policies and procedures, audit planning, external audit assistance, reviewing work papers, inventory counts, IT audits and only very rarely, fraud investigations.
As you can see, a job in internal auditing is far more wide ranging than checking through the accounts and is increasingly seen as function responsible for delivering efficiencies and process changes, adding value to the wider finance team with increased transparency around numbers. You will be using your skills in accounting to facilitate better communication between the finance team and operational business areas. An internal auditor is usually the middleman who opens conversations between various departments and drives change.
One of the biggest parts of an internal audit are the final reports which include recommendations for management’s consideration. Internal audit requires continual transparency, and to succeed in the role you will be very diligent with your recordings and reporting.
Beyond this, to be a successful internal auditor you need to have a strong understanding of how each team impacts business performance and process. An internal auditor will need to know just about everything about a business, from their corporate goals and values – to their output capability and market size. You need to be a good problem solver and have an extremely good attention to detail. On top of a knowledge about the rules and regulations of the financial market, maybe most importantly, a successful internal auditor will good at working with people.