In the world of tax and accounting, it’s hard to find something more hackneyed than the stereotype of an auditor. You see the picture: humorless accountants poring over the minutiae of every receipt and document, double-checking every last fraction of a cent. Surrounded by countless file boxes and reams of paper, auditors rarely emerge from their offices. The slightest hint of an engaging personality stays buried deep beneath all the numbers.
Of course, the real lives of auditors couldn’t be more different. They’re hardly the sequestered wallflowers of popular imagination. Instead, you could say that auditors are the life of the tax and accounting party.
Auditors are People-Persons
Sure, audits involve working with numbers and documents. But there’s an equally important human element, too.
“The best part about auditing is that you get to be with people, work with them, and develop a true sense of team,” says Brad Caruso, partner at Withum in New York. “If I’m not physically in front of people, I’m on the phone talking through something, and that something varies minute by minute.”
Michael Kowler, partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Buchbinder Tunick & Company LLP, agrees. “I went into this profession in order to be around people,” he explains. This notion extends, too, to his firm’s overall environment. “I like that I am part of a firm that the staff feels comfortable to come in my office to ask questions or share their experiences.”
They’re at Home on the Range
Auditing gets an undeserved bad rap that you never leave your desk. “Not true!” says Cathy Rowe, accounting and audit product line manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and herself an accountant with a strong auditing background. “In fact, I am usually strapped in an airplane getting ready to visit a firm.” Working directly with auditors in the field is essential to creating industry-leading solutions that support the profession. “We want to ensure that all of our new products support working from anywhere, anytime, and any device to improve client and team collaboration and maximize efficiencies,” explains Cathy.
For Bryce Gibbs, principal of K·Coe Isom in Chico, Calif., hitting the road and exploring a different environment has a similar allure. “I’m not stuck at my desk at all,” he says. “I’ve been able to travel to many places working on attest engagements, and seeing my clients’ operations is the most fascinating part of the audit process.”
Auditors Are Everyday Superheroes
If auditors had a uniform, it would be that they wear many, many hats. “There’s no such thing as ‘only one job’ in public accounting,” says Sean Perry, manager of public accounting in the New Jersey office of Buchbinder Tunick & Company LLP. “We’re auditors, advisors, consultants, colleagues, peers, confidants, sounding boards, mentors, friends, students, teachers, personnel managers, budgeters, proofreaders, and leaders.”
Joe Essuman, CPA and an audit consultant with the professional and client services team at Wolters Kluwer, agrees that auditors are experts of the quick-change. “Not only do you move between different clients, accounts, and industries as an auditor, you’re also jumping between roles within a specific project, which range from reviewer to project manager to final approver.” Auditing also has a long, rewarding horizon for those who accept the challenge. “You will also change significantly in your roles as you progress through your career,” says Joe. “The opportunities are boundless when you know what you want.”
They Aren’t Always the Bearers of Bad News
Perhaps the most persistent myth about a career in auditing is that it focuses on the negative. While keeping an eye out for accounting missteps is part of the job, it’s hardly the only focus. “Our job is rarely about bad news,” explains Garrett Wagner, CEO and founder of C3 Evolution Group in Rochester, N.Y. Instead, it’s ultimately about putting the spotlight on how clients can perform even better, and how the role of an auditor can support this goal. “Performing the audit is the first step in developing insights,” says Garrett, “which we then use to deliver further value for our clients.”
Of course, sometimes a bit of instant gratification works just as well, according to Joel Ortner, an accountant who also is the lead audit product owner for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. “Many times it’s good news, especially if it’s a tax refund!”
The audit profession is always evolving and innovating, and so are the solutions that support the work auditors perform. Did you know that there also are four common myths about the technology available to auditors? Check out the infographic now.
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