Audit accounting plays a key role in ensuring a company’s accounts are accurate and finances are being distributed in the fairest or most efficient manner. But what is audit accounting?
Discover what audit accounting involves and why it’s such a popular career route for graduates.
As companies and public sector organisations face increasing scrutiny over their finances, audit accountants are entrusted with the responsibility of reviewing financial records to ensure they are accurate and compliant.
Audit accounting can be an internal process with a focus on mitigating risk and identifying areas where cost savings can be made. Alternatively, audit accountants can be independent specialists who conduct external audits on company accounts.
How is audit accounting different from other finance routes?
Audit accounting differs from other finance routes as the nature of financial accountability means you must work to strict deadlines, with a keen eye for detail and a willingness to challenge the status quo.
Whereas an accountant will provide advice and support on tax returns, bookkeeping and cash flow, an audit accountant digs deeper into the records looking retrospectively at the accounts of an organisation.
Audit accounting also differs from roles such as asset management and investment banking, as it focuses on objectives surrounding governance and compliance rather than growing a company’s finances.
It’s all about making sure the numbers add up through careful analysis and administration to dot the Is and cross the Ts. No stone is left unturned when protecting the financial health of an organisation.
Roles in the audit accounting sector
Audit accountants tend to fall into two main camps – internal auditors and external auditors.
Internal audit accountants
Large organisations, particularly those in highly regulated industries such as finance and the public sector tend to hire audit accountants to help them achieve compliance and accountability.
As well as ensuring the books are balanced and all incomings and outgoings are accounted for, an internal auditor will identify areas where the business can become more efficient, particularly when purchasing supplies for multiple sites.
External audit accountants
Working externally gives you the opportunity to work with multiple organisations, auditing their accounts to ensure they meet requirements.
This could be related to tax liabilities for HM Revenue & Customs, funding allocation for public bodies, or financial health for private firms working with government organisations. Audit accountants measure a variety of metrics, depending on whom they work for.
Essential skills for audit accounting
- Scrutiny – you need an eagle eye to spot anomalies in reams of accounts
- Strong communication – you find it easy to articulate yourself on paper and in person, for writing up reports and presenting your findings
- Problem-solving – you always look for opportunities to eliminate problems and present areas for improvement
- Time management – you aren’t phased by deadlines and fast turnarounds
- Confidence – you will speak up when you believe something is amiss and challenge the status quo
Learn more about the ten key skills you need to become a good accountant.
Key audit accounting firms
As audit accountants are increasingly being hired internally to keep up with compliance measures, there is no shortage of jobs for graduates in this finance route with opportunities in both the public and private sectors. However, some of the major players in the accounting market include:
Did you know?
- Auditing spans back to medieval times, when royalty and merchants would hire auditors to root out cases of theft or fraud.
- Auditors uncover market-moving scandals, such as the discovery that Tesco overstated its profits by a staggering £263 million in 2014, or the 2001 scandal that revealed Enron had slashed millions of debts off its balance sheet.
- A qualified audit accountant could expect to earn between £30,000 and £45,000 a year, with the opportunity to progress to managerial roles where you could earn up to £70,000.
If you're good with numbers and have a meticulous eye for detail, a career in audit accounting could be for you. Find out more graduate schemes in this sector.