Big 4 Accounting firms

This week we take a look at how auditors have grown their careers historically through the gradual aquisition of certain key skillsets and attributes.

Critical Skills to Enhance Your Audit Career Path

What makes a great auditor?

What’s the perfect career path for an auditor?

Twenty years ago, answers to those questions were undoubtedly much different than they are today. Back then, a solid grasp of the ins and outs of internal audit could land you high on the career ladder.

In 2020, likely less so.

When 49% of current work activities could be automated using technology, it is ultimately the softer skills that will distinguish audit professionals in a highly demanding and rapidly-changing landscape. Want to improve the career path you are on as an auditor?

 

Here are the top 9  skills you should master today in order to help your audit career path grow:

Critical Thinking: Critical thinking skills are important for an audit career path. This type of reasoning requires that they step outside of their own judgments and biases in order to consider all perspectives, question the validity of each, and reach a conclusion.

As the Global Internal Audit Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) study notes, “Critical thinking is the most sought-after skill by internal audit hiring managers, but generally, it is learned on the job through dedicated feedback and coaching from internal audit leaders.” 

 

Initiative

In any profession, employers want to know that their employees are eager to learn and develop. They value people who go above and beyond expectations to advance themselves and their knowledge.

For internal auditors, the willingness to take initiative and ownership over their own success is crucial. Passionately pursuing professional designations, certifications, and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) proves that they are not content to rest on their laurels, but instead, are eager to learn and evolve along with the profession.

 

Communication skills

Case in point: in a 2016 survey conducted by Workforce Solutions Group, communication skills were the top demand of hiring companies, yet two out of three employers cited a lack of these interpersonal skills in their job applicants. This serves as proof that internal auditors who are strong communicators will set themselves apart from any job competition.

“Internal auditors need to possess excellent communication skills in order to succeed and advance in the changing, complex international global marketplace,” writes Dr. Gene Smith, an accounting professor at Eastern New Mexico University, in an article published in Managerial Auditing Journal. “Auditors utilize communication skills in almost every situation they encounter.” 

 

Curiosity

As mentioned previously, the most successful internal auditors are not fulfilled with the status quo—they have an eye for continuous process improvement and how they can advance the profession in a business that is changing at an accelerated rate. Internal auditors should seek to not only refine their own skills, but also to understand, adapt to, and leverage emerging technologies.

Curiosity also means that these internal audit practitioners ruthlessly dig into problems in pursuit of an answer and solution. They are excited about a mystery, rather than being discouraged by it. “We want people who have a passion for truly understanding the business and a knack for remaining inquisitive within environments that can change on a weekly or even daily basis,” explains Kelly Barrett, Vice President of Internal Audit and Compliance for Home Depot.

“An open-minded auditor is nonpartisan and able to see the good practices, as well as the improvement areas,” writes Amanda Bradley, GlaxoSmithKline’s Director of Risk and Strategy. “This supports the development of the internal control framework, and means that the auditor is able to challenge on the best corrective actions to put in place because they have seen what good looks like.”

 

Healthy Skepticism

“[Skepticism] is an attitude that includes a questioning mind and a critical assessment of the appropriateness and sufficiency of audit evidence,”. “It requires being alert to conditions that may indicate possible misstatement due to error, neglect, or fraud, and a critical assessment of audit evidence.”

The best internal auditors trust nothing when reviewing financial documents and they conduct each review with a discerning eye and a high degree of vigilance, regardless of the specific circumstances.

 

Business acumen

In the 2018 North American Pulse of the Internal Audit Profession survey conducted by the IIA’s Audit Executive Center, business acumen was ranked as one of the most desirable skills by CAEs. Today’s practitioners need to know not only the numbers, they also need to know what role they play and why they matter to the business. Internal auditors do the legwork.

In short, professionals with the strongest career paths do not just do their jobs with excellence, but they also connect the dots to articulate the true business impact—which is the information that matters most to other stakeholders.

Empathy

For those on the receiving end, audits can be nerve-wracking, and skilled internal auditors must know how to empathize with the emotions of their clients or stakeholders while still maintaining their composure and remaining prudent. Not only does this competency set internal audit practitioners apart and allow them to deliver their findings in the most effective way, but it also leads to higher quality audits.

 

Executive presence

“Internal audit leaders must inform, educate, and influence stakeholders as well as earn their trust,” explains a release by a Big 4 firm. According to a recent study from PwC, 9 out of 10 very effective internal audit leaders excel in demonstrating executive presence.

 

Cross-functional training

As the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants states, auditors must “have an understanding of how laws and regulations affect an audit, not only in terms of the work the auditor is required to do, but also to appreciate the responsibilities of both management and the auditor where laws and regulations are concerned.”

Similarly, internal auditors work with a large amount of financial data, so they need to be equipped with the skills to analyze those numbers. Being able to manage data is a surefire way to stand out in a competitive field and labor market, especially since LinkedIn reports that data science is one of the top 25 most in-demand skills of 2019.

 

Prepare today to become the auditor of tomorrow

Today, the internal auditing profession is about more than being an investigator—these roles add real value to the business. However, that is far easier to prove if you supplement your technical skills with these in-demand soft skills.

Doing so makes you a better-rounded internal auditing professional, and it also helps you realize that automation isn’t something to fear. In fact, by automating the manual tasks that take time away from more proactive, value-added, and fulfilling activities, you can become the strategic and insightful internal auditor that your organization needs.

 

Audit International are specialists in the recruitment of Auditors and various Corporate Governance Professionals including Internal Audit, Compliance, IT Audit, Data Analytics etc across Europe and the US.

If you would like to reach out to discuss your current requirements, please feel free to reach us on  Germany-  0049 30217 82920 or Switzerland 0041 4350 830 59

One of the biggest issues every successful company face in today’s business world is the prevention of fraudulent activities committed by employees. Over a decade ago the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) Compliance was introduced which requires that all publicly held companies must establish internal controls and procedures for financial reporting to reduce the possibility of corporate fraud. However with increasing new technologies is this enough to protect companies in 2017?

In a recent study conducted by one of the Big4- on average global companies lost over 5% of revenue to fraudulent actions- the majority of this done by current employees. The reason for this was due to lack of internal controls and no risk management in place. Furthermore the cost to strengthen such internal controls is a considerable investment whether it be in hiring new staff such as internal auditors or specialist fraud and forensic audit professionals. However the cost of such professionals is far less than the loss of earnings suffered by companies due to fraudulent activities conducted by employees.

Companies must also face the costly burden of implementing new software such as Governance Risk and Compliance packages. Combine this with the cost of hiring new talent in the IT Audit arena to process, analyse test and review these controls.

Using new technologies such as the cloud has allowed companies to analyse risk management procedures which look for unusual patterns such as access frequencies, duplicate payments, and splitting invoices
These cloud tools automate controls that uncover these types of preventable risks, but they can also help companies develop a road-map for identifying strategic risks.
It is vital that organisations continue to develop their internal controls, invest in technology and most importantly specialized fraud and forensic audit professionals to mitigate the increasing number of preventable risks which untimely leads to higher profit margins.

According to a new study of more than 1,600 chief audit executives (CAEs), senior management and board members released by professional services specialist PwC yesterday, internal audit functions that have very effective leadership perform better and add greater value to their businesses.
The Big 4’s study found that more than 50% of participating stakeholders now believe internal audit is contributing significant value to the business.This is a significant increase on the same study conducted last year. It is also hoped that internal auditors will add considerable value and leadership within a company in the 5 years after joining.

The value of leadership

There is close correlation between strong leadership and internal audit’s ability to add value and deliver high performance,To continue fostering internal audit functions to become more trusted advisors within their organizations, stakeholders should promote strong internal audit leadership while audit executives work to elevate the performance and perceptions of their respective functions.

PwC also identified five characteristics consistently exhibited by the most effective internal audit leaders that all CAEs should adopt:

1)
Create and follow through on a vision.
PwC found that very effective internal audit leaders possess a strong vision that aligns with both a company’s strategic direction and stakeholders’ expectations. These leaders translate their visions into strategic plans and invest in capabilities in support of their vision, especially data analytics and technological tools that allow them to innovate on process.

2)
Source and retain the right talent.
According to PwC’s study, CAEs identified talent shortages as the most significant barrier to increasing their contributions as leaders. Additionally, as business transformation continues to evolve, additional new skills are needed. PwC says the most effective internal audit leaders exhibit two talent behaviors that stand out from the pack: a focus on mentorship and talent development, and an ability to source the right talent when needed.
PwC says very effective internal audit leaders also have a “no hierarchy in the room” policy, which facilitates staff development through open discussion and working as a team to solve problems. Fully 73 percent of these leaders use co-sourcing as part of their talent strategies.

3)
Empower the internal audit function.
Organizational position and the support of stakeholders plays an important role in the effectiveness of internal audit leaders. PwC found that 78 percent of very effective internal audit leaders are vice presidents or hold senior positions in their organization. Additionally, PwC found stakeholders are gravitating toward more senior leadership talent to fill the CAE role, noting their responsibility to empower the CAE by setting a culture that supports the importance of a strong control environment.
Demonstrate executive presence. Underscoring the need for leadership talent in the CAE role, PwC found that 90 percent of very effective internal audit leaders excel in demonstrating executive presence. They bring bold perspectives and think broadly about the company. PwC notes that internal audit leaders must inform, educate and influence stakeholders as well as earn their trust. One of the trickier challenges internal audit leaders face is communicating with a variety of internal and external stakeholders who each have different expectations of the function.

4)
Partner with the business in meaningful ways.
The most effective internal audit leaders set themselves apart by partnering with the business in meaningful ways. PwC says internal auditors should be able to stand out in three specific behaviors to become a very effective leader:
Develop relationships built on trust.
Build partnerships across the lines of defense to play greater roles in coordinating risk management across functions.
Use those connections to raise their level of engagement across the organization, taking on leadership roles in working with management, compliance, legal and other assurance functions to develop an integrated assurance strategy.
PwC notes that some very effective internal audit leaders have taken to renaming the internal audit function (e.g., to audit services) to rebrand it as a collaborative functions that partners with the business.

5)
Seeing clear and strategically
“It’s through close alignment with various stakeholders and owning internal audit’s role as a leadership function within the organization that can allow internal audit to help their companies keep up with the changing business and risk landscape,” Pett said. “But all this can’t be said and done without a clear vision, supported by a strategic plan and enabled with top talent.

For the full article click http://www.cio.com/article/3042157/leadership-management/5-characteristics-of-exceptional-internal-audit-leaders.html

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have known that in 2014 PwC’s total fee income was £2.539bn, some £224m ahead of Deloitte (£2.315bn) according to the Financial Reporting Council’s 2014 Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession.

PwC also earned the highest fee income from audit (£571m) and from non-audit work for audit clients (£332m). This compares with Deloitte’s audit fee income of £486m.

Third-placed KPMG had total fee income of £1.874bn of which audit contributed £438m. Therefore, the research shows that mentioned two firms were well ahead of their Big Four firm rivals.

Meanwhile, EY earned £1.868bn, including £341m from audit services. Compared to the mid-tier firms and even if the next three largest firms (Grant Thornton, BDO and Baker Tilly) were to merge, the combined total of their fee income would still be £727m less than EY’s.

However, during 2014 the mid-tier saw a major boost to their overall fee income which on average grew by 15.1% compared to the Big Four’s 4.3%. Their audit fee income rose by 9.5% (Big Four 0.1). Their non-audit work for non-audit clients also grew on average by 18.7% compared to the Big Four’s 6.3%.

The Financial Reporting Council’s statistics show that all the firms’ audit fee income is shrinking as a percentage of overall fee income. This is more gradual among the Big Four where the percentage has gone down from 24% in 2010 to 21% in 2014. In the same period the mid-tier firms have seen their audit percentage drop from 34% to 28%.

 

For jobs with some of the leading international consulting firms across the world as well as tier one multinationals, please contact Audit International on 0041 4350 830 95 or else email your current cv to info@www.audit-international.com

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have known that UK consultants saw a hike in fees during 2014, with the Big Four outperforming their competitors.

According to the industry body’s latest report, Management Consultancies Association members, which include the Big Four’s consultancy firms, announced £5.2bn in fees during the last year, up 8.4% on the previous period. The Big Four’s consultancies grew by 10.75%.

The MCA’s members made up over half (60%) of the UK management consulting sector. Therefore this growth was faster than the majority of every other economy sector. According to Accountancy Age’s Top 50+50 2014 survey, they earned £2.7bn.

After last week’s consulting acquisitions made by KPMG and EY, it is clear that consulting has become a huge focus for the Big four in recent times.

Speaking about sectors and industries, the annual report showed that digital consulting remains the largest area of consulting activity. Most of that activity surrounds financial services, retail and energy, and figures show it rose to over 27% to £1.4bn, which is up 2% from last year and a total of 8% from two years ago, according to MCA.

Specifically strategy consulting, which last year accounted for 7% of consulting activity, saw growth of 44% in 2014, and now makes up a tenth of all activity. Also, Financial Services saw growth last year, and remains the biggest private sector buyer of consulting services. The MCA research also shows that consulting work in general has increased by 43%, with members involved in major UK projects.

Finally, the income from the public sector remains similarly to 2013. It is around £1.1bn, lower than the previous £1.8bn at the start of last parliament. Yet firms who supplied returns across 2013 and 2014 show 9.8% growth between both years.

 

 

For jobs with some of the leading international consulting firms across the world as well as tier one multinationals, please contact Audit International on 0041 4350 830 95 or else email your current cv to info@www.audit-international.com

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have known that The Institute of Internal Auditors and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at advancing internal auditing and accounting practices globally.

The main part of the collaboration is a one-time challenge exam open to ACCA members toward receiving the IIA’s Certified Internal Auditor, or CIA, certification.

The CIA certificate, launched in 1973, identifies the individual as a committed and competent professional and provides recognition and status among peers and principal stakeholders.

Recently, IIA president and CEO Richard F. Chambers said “We are eager to make the challenge exam available to qualified ACCA members because earning the CIA represents an important level of achievement for internal audit practitioners,” He also added: “The rigorous requirements for ACCA membership reflect the high standards of professional attainment that we expect of all of our CIA certificate holders.”

The ACCA certification identify members as qualified accountants and show their commitment to high ethical standards, professional values, and lifelong learning. To get the ACCA is mandatory to pass ACCA qualification exams and a professional ethics module, a three-year practical experience requirement and more.

We have also learnt that ACCA-member recipients of the CIA will have to meet continuing professional education requirements beginning in January 2017 to retain the certification.

Finally, has been known that the organizations will help build awareness of respective initiatives and programs, including the ACCA’s recognition of the IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

 

For jobs with some of the leading international consulting firms across the world as well as tier one multinationals, please contact Audit International on 0041 4350 830 95 or else email your current cv to info@www.audit-international.com

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have known that KPMG retains audit crown in latest Adviser Rankings in terms of overall stock market client numbers with 404 accounts, according to the latest research from Adviser Rankings.

According to the Corporate Advisers Rankings Guide, in the latest quarterly BDO retained the lead on London’s junior market by client numbers – ahead of KPMG, by just one client, while BDO managed to ease on to the podium through the collective worth of its clients.

Both Smith & Williamson and Crowe Clark Whitehill made solid additions to their rosters, in eighth and tenth place, respectively.

Regarding to the largest audit companies, PwC remained the largest auditor of FTSE 100 businesses with 39 clients, nearly double that of Deloitte, which moved into third position.

Finally, in the industrials sector, Welbeck Associates entered the rankings in joint 11th position with three clients while in oil & gas Nexia Smith & Williamson retain 8th position with five clients, after a gain of one.

 

For jobs with some of the leading international consulting firms across the world as well as tier one multinationals, please contact Audit International on 0041 4350 830 95 or else email your current cv to info@www.audit-international.com

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have known that the global leader firm providing audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax, and related services to select clients Deloitte, has promoted 75 new partners and added 35 new equity partners in the largest ever annual intake to the firm’s UK partnership.

Taking into account that nearly a third of the newly promoted partners are female (ten of whom were equity partners) at the minute, 17% of all Deloitte’s partners are women, up from 15% in 2014. The firm, has made a commitment that 25% of its partners will be female by 2020. A quarter of its executives and board members are female.

Chief executive and senior partner at Deloitte UK David Sproul, announced the launch of a new ‘return-to-work’ scheme which aims to attract more senior female leaders back into the workforce. Mr Sproul declared: “It is positive that this year, a higher proportion of our new partners are women” He also said:  “We are committed to continuing to do more to create more opportunities in Deloitte for women at a senior level.”

Mentioned ‘return-to-work’ scheme will run from September to December. It will offer a 12-week paid internship to women who have been out of the workforce for between three and six years. In the first year, it will be open to Deloitte alumni and the ambition is for 80% of participants to take up longer-term roles with the firm at the end of their internship.

At the beginning of the year, Deloitte’s US arm appointed Cathy Englebert as its first female chief executive. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants hailed the appointment as a “momentous occasion for the profession”.

 

For jobs with some of the leading international consulting firms across the world as well as tier one multinationals, please contact Audit International on 0041 4350 830 95 or else email your current cv to info@www.audit-international.com

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have known The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) recently released nine new and updated practice advisories that provide guidance to internal auditors and chief audit executives on managing an effective quality assurance and improvement program.

Mentioned advisories focus on parts of the IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing that deal with maintaining, establishing, and reporting on a quality assurance and improvement program. According to the IIA, these mandatory programs are intended to build confidence in internal audit’s work performed in accordance with the standards.

See below the nine practice advisories:

1- Quality Assurance and Improvement Program

2- Internal Assessments

3- External Assessments

4- External Assessments: Self-Assessment with Independent Validation

5- Independence of External Assessment Team in the Private Sector

6- Independence of the External Assessment Team in the Public Sector

7- Reporting Results of the Quality Assurance and Improvement Program

8- Use of “Conforms with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing”

9- Disclosure of Non-conformance with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing

IIA members can access all of the institute’s practice advisories

These modifications and all the changes to the updated advisories are designed to provide enhanced recommended guidance to chief audit executives, whether relating to the results of internal and external assurance reviews, or disclosing non-conformance with the standards.

 

For jobs with some of the leading international consulting firms across the world as well as tier one multinationals, please contact Audit International on 0041 4350 830 95 or else email your current cv to info@www.audit-international.com

Audit International, the leading specialists in Internal and External Audit Recruitment across Europe, the US and Asia have known the list of the top 50 places in the world to live in 2015. Index factors include liveability, cost of living and safety.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Liveability Ranking and Report reveals that Melbourne is the most liveable city on Earth. This ranking is based on 30 qualitative and quantitative factors spread across five areas: stability, infrastructure, education, healthcare and environment.

Recently published list provides scores for lifestyle challenges in 140 cities worldwide and shows that liveability across the world has fallen by 0.7%, led by a 1.3% fall in the score for stability and safety following a decade of destabilising events.

Locations on the top of the ranking tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density, which boast increased recreational activities, but without high crime levels and overburdened infrastructure.

As we have mentioned before, Melbourne leads the list for the fourth year in a row. Also this year’s list puts eight of the ten most comfortable places to live in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Logically, cities with major conflicts are ranked lowest, including Damascus (140) Lagos (137) and Karachi (136) although the EIU excludes hotspots, such as Kabul and Baghdad, because the rankings are “designed to address a range of cities or business centres that people might want to live in or visit.” Related to this, cities experiencing the biggest decline in standards of living over the past five years (serious problems with unemployment, violence, civil unrest, and instability) are: St Petersburg (70), Moscow (73), Sofia (87), Athens (69), Tunis (103), Muscat (88), Cairo (120), Caracas (126), Kiev (124), Tripoli (132) and Damascus (140).

We can find Vienna in the 2nd position, Helsinki (8), Zurich (11), Geneva (12), Hamburg (12), Paris (17), Frankfurt (18), Luxembourg (25), Dusseldorf (32) and Miami (38).

 

For jobs with some of the leading international consulting firms across the world as well as tier one multinationals, please contact Audit International on 0041 4350 830 95 or else email your current cv to info@www.audit-international.com