Inside the World of an Auditor

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Ask any auditor what a typical day consists of and, odds are, you'll get a play by play of each email, rumor, and announcement of yet another task handed down from the higher ups regarding the SEC's demand for further auditing of certain companies. You'll also overhear a myriad of other typical announcements exclusive to an accounting firm. Still, you may be surprised at how exciting the life of an auditor is on any given day at the office. It is never predictable, and many times the pace of the day is determined by factors such as new clients, the stock market, financial announcements by other companies, and government reports that are released at monthly intervals, such as unemployment and consumer confidence statistics. Of course, auditors worth their salt will monitor world financial markets numerous times a day; after all, their livelihoods depend upon these markets, which are the best indicators of how well their clients are doing. They're invaluable resources for learning how to best serve the needs of those clients. They also find themselves reassuring those very same clients while providing the guidance that justifies those reassurances.

Other events auditors witness and must deal with include keeping fears over 401(k) plans, investments, and other financial aspects that fall under the broad account management term to a minimum for their clients, as well as providing guidance regarding making those portfolios continue to work for those who invest their money, even in less-than-ideal financial environments. Emails are checked, meetings are scheduled, projects are coordinated, and disclosures, reports, and financial statements are reviewed. Often, meetings with Securities and Exchange Commission personnel are attended to discuss new laws and legislation that may affect any number of a company's clients. From there, each auditor contacts the clients that these new laws may affect to discuss ways to ensure they remain in compliance with state and federal guidelines. Often, auditors and accountants will spend a large amount of time at the offices of their clients. In fact, it's a standard practice in accounting firms. It's logistically easier, since files and those who have the answers to questions are all in one place, versus one or two company managers meeting at the accountant's office.

It's a fast-paced office environment, with phones ringing, accountants and auditors scrambling around to get stock purchases in before the closing bell rings, and often, in the larger companies, TVs are constantly tuned to financial news networks, complete with rolling tickers that reveal every stock sold, bought, or traded on a minute by minute basis. And to think many believe auditors spend hours a day ensuring their pocket protectors are adjusted just so!



During slower times, especially right after tax season, many choose to take courses to remain current on revised federal and state guidelines; in fact, many employers make these courses mandatory for their professional teams. And speaking of tax season, many are in their offices until well after 5 pm, which traditionally signals the end of the workday. In fact, many report their days don't end until way after 10 pm and, even then, most carry their workloads home to continue once they've settled in for the night. The more successful an auditor is, the longer his or her workdays become since clients have built trust with this one person and are hesitant in sharing any of their company's confidential financial records with anyone else. In many of the larger companies, temps are brought in from employment agencies to stay on top of the constant ringing of the phones and the mountains of papers that are required to remain on file for any length of time, as well as to offset some of the data entry jobs full-time employees become overwhelmed with during the busy tax season. One of the downfalls of this time of year for these professionals is the loss of precious family time. Nearly 79 percent report that they've missed important events in their family life, such as school plays and ball games, and some brave souls have even sacrificed wedding anniversaries, even as their spouses’ half-jokingly threaten divorce if another anniversary is missed. Of course, anniversaries are going to fall on the same day each year, and if it conflicts with tax season one year, it's certainly going to continue to each following year.

In terms of their career choices, most will tell you they love their chosen profession and wouldn't want to do anything else. They thrive on the stress levels, the fast pace, and the satisfaction of successfully pulling another client through a nerve-wracking audit. Of course, they're compensated well for their education as well as the work they provide. Most companies are generous with vacation time and year-end bonuses since they want to keep their best talent.

Another interesting fact is that most accountants, auditors, and other financial wizards usually score high on IQ tests, coming in at above-average with a 142 average. Studies have long since revealed that those especially good with numbers or in technical lines of work generally score high on IQ and other psychological tests.

So now that the stereotype has been busted, if you've considered choosing this career as your life's work, there's nothing that should prevent you from moving forward and pursuing this choice. In fact, between the excellent work environments most are fortunate enough to be a part of, the excellent pay potential, and the opportunity to meet people practically on a daily basis, the pros far outnumber any of the cons you could think of.
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