Audit & Assurance
Whether it’s through fulfilling a legal obligation or as part of housekeeping procedures, businesses simply cannot escape from audits and assurance…
What are audits?
An audit is essentially a health check or kind of MOT for a company’s finances. The first reason for the necessity of these checks in any business is regulation, regulation, regulation! A company must declare their finances on a regular basis in the form of an annual financial statement by law to demonstrate transparency in the way the company is working and that all financial information and accounting practices are in line with regulations. This transparency in financial information is also really important for the benefit of potential investors in the company who want to know the nitty gritty on a potential investment before they take the plunge and put their money on the table.
A regulatory audit is conducted by specialist accountants – known as auditors – from a third party organisation (usually a professional services firm with services in auditing). Auditors sometimes spend periods of time on site with their clients as they study their financial statement (balance sheet, income statement and various details about investments and accounting processes) to see if the information provided is an accurate reflection of the company’s finances. Auditors have to stick to set standards themselves when they carry out these checks.
Assurance is a series of financial checks a company may call for before it begins a particular project to make sure the finances are in place and they are ready and able to get started.
Audit and Assurance is teeming with opportunities for graduates – and you don’t have to have studied accountancy or numerical degree to get into it! As long as you’re sharp with numbers and have a keen logical brain, there is plenty of room for you in this area. It’s a popular focus for School Leaver Programmes and Higher Apprenticeships too.
Audit & assurance employees...
So who could you work for? Well, you could of course work for a specialist accountancy firm or a professional services firm, particularly if you like the idea of variety in clients from different industries (remember, ALL businesses meeting the criteria set out by the law need audit and assurance services, from football clubs and banks, to retail giants and energy firms). In roles with these employers you could work on external audits, and/or conduct or advise on the company’s internal audits.
You could alternatively specialise in one sector as part of an in-house finance department conducting internal audits as part of a wider accounting role, or even join the National Audit Office (NAO) which carries out audits on public services and government departments to report back to the government and decipher how public money is being spent. Plenty of choice there!