Auditor Jobs & Career Guide

What is an Auditor?

An auditor works within an organization to review the internal controls, including corporate governance and accounting processes. They provide independent and objective evaluations of the company’s financial and operational business activities.

For the purposes of this guide we are focusing on an internal auditor (as opposed to an external auditor which performs a similar function but is usually employed by an external party for example an audit firm.

Internal auditors must be independent from the operations they evaluate and report directly to a high level of management, often to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors, and administratively to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or sometimes directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This positioning helps ensure that internal auditors have unrestricted access to the records and personnel necessary to perform their duties and that their reports are free from management influence.

Being an internal auditor in corporate finance isn’t just about checking the books. We act as guardians of the company’s financial health. We analyze financial processes, controls, and transactions to identify risks and ensure compliance with regulations. It’s about partnering with different departments within finance, like treasury or M&A, to identify potential weaknesses and recommend improvements. We often work on complex projects, like due diligence for acquisitions or investigations into potential fraud. It’s a dynamic role that keeps you on your toes, and you get a deep understanding of how the financial side of the company truly operates.
David Hernandez, Internal Auditor at Ingram Micro

What Are the Key Responsibilities of an Auditor?

Financial Auditing

  • Conduct financial audits to ensure the accuracy and completeness of financial records and statements.
  • Assess the organization’s financial processes and systems for efficiency and compliance with accounting standards and principles.

Risk Management Evaluation

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the organization’s risk management procedures, particularly those related to financial risks such as market, credit, and liquidity risks.
  • Identify potential financial risks and recommend strategies to mitigate these risks.

Internal Controls Assessment

  • Review and assess the internal controls over financial reporting and related systems to prevent and detect errors and fraud.
  • Recommend improvements to enhance the strength and effectiveness of financial controls.

Regulatory Compliance

  • Ensure compliance with financial regulations and standards, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in the U.S., which involves regular testing of compliance and reporting on it.
  • Stay updated on changes in financial regulations and ensure the organization adapts its practices accordingly.

Reporting and Communication

  • Prepare detailed audit reports that document audit findings and recommendations.
  • Present these findings to senior management and relevant committees, such as the audit committee or board of directors.

Operational Efficiency Reviews

  • Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of financial operations, including the structures and processes used in finance departments.
  • Suggest ways to improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs, and enhance profitability.

Consultation and Advisory

  • Act as an advisor to management on financial reporting and internal control structure.
  • Provide guidance on financial management best practices and operational adjustments.

Monitoring and Follow-Up

  • Monitor the implementation of audit recommendations to ensure they are effectively carried out.
  • Conduct follow-up audits to assess the success of implemented changes or to see if further adjustments are needed.

Fraud Detection and Investigation

  • Investigate any allegations of financial fraud or misconduct.
  • Develop policies and systems to minimize financial fraud within the organization.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Engage with various stakeholders within the organization to ensure there is an understanding of and compliance with financial policies and procedures.
  • Train and educate staff on financial controls and compliance issues to foster a compliance-oriented culture.

What’s a Typical Day for an Auditor?

Here is a typical day in the life of an auditor working within a large software company:

  • 8:00 AM: Arrival at the office followed by a review of emails and the day’s schedule. This is a time to prioritize tasks, check for urgent communications, and prepare for meetings.
  • 8:30 AM: The internal audit team holds a brief daily stand-up meeting to discuss the status of ongoing audits, exchange updates on significant findings, and coordinate activities for the day.
  • 9:00 AM: Preparation for a scheduled audit of the company’s new billing system. This preparation involves reviewing the system’s controls, previous audit reports, and planning specific tests to assess the effectiveness of these controls.
  • 10:00 AM: Conducting interviews with key personnel involved in the billing process to understand process flows, identify any changes since the last audit, and gather insights into challenges they are facing.
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch break
  • 1:00 PM: Reviewing the documentation and initial findings from the morning’s audit activities, and starting to compile notes and observations into a draft audit report.
  • 2:00 PM: Participating in a cross-departmental meeting with IT and finance teams to discuss the integration of a new financial software tool and assess its security and compliance features before full deployment.
  • 3:00 PM: Analyzing financial data from recent transactions processed through the new billing system using specialized audit software to look for any anomalies or patterns that might indicate control weaknesses or errors.
  • 4:00 PM: Preparing for a presentation to the audit committee, which involves consolidating audit findings from various departments and creating a PowerPoint presentation that highlights key risks, recommendations, and action items.
  • 5:00 PM: Meeting with the audit manager to discuss the progress of current audits, share challenges, and receive feedback on findings. This time is also used to discuss professional development goals and upcoming training opportunities.
  • 6:00 PM: Finalizing tasks for the day, responding to any last-minute emails, and reviewing the schedule for the next day to ensure readiness for upcoming activities.
  • 6:30 PM: Departure from the office.

How to Become an Internal Auditor

Education

Earn a bachelor’s degree in accountingfinance, business administration, or a related field. Key courses should include accounting principles, auditing, corporate finance, and business law, which provide the foundational knowledge needed for an auditing career.

Starting out

Start in entry-level accounting or finance positions. Roles such as staff accountant or financial analyst can provide practical experience with financial processes, compliance, and reporting that are crucial for auditors.

Acquire Professional Certifications

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification is the most recognized certification for internal auditors. It demonstrates your expertise in internal auditing standards and practices. Depending on your focus, you might also consider certifications like Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

Develop Key Skills

  • Analytical Skills – Develop strong analytical abilities to assess policies and operations critically and identify areas for improvement.
  • Communication Skills – Enhance both written and verbal communication skills as you’ll need to articulate audit findings clearly and effectively to management and other stakeholders.
  • Technical Skills – Gain proficiency in accounting software and systems used in corporate finance.

How Much Money Does an Internal Auditor Earn?

The average salary of an internal auditor is $70,575. The highest 10% of internal auditors can expect to earn as much as $128,000. See our salary guide for more detailed insights.

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