The Perks of Public Sector Audit

Being a part of the largest provider of Public Sector Audit in the country has its advantages, not only do you have a large body of support and people to learn from but can also bag some great away jobs. For example, as I write this I am sitting looking out at the harbour of St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly. It is a beautiful, quaint place which I would never have had the opportunity of visiting had I not taken a training contract with Grant Thornton. Granted I still have to work for 7.5 hours a day, but for the evenings I can wander around the coastline sampling the delicacies and lapping up the British sunshine; things are pretty good.

At the moment we are in the midst of Local Government season which involves the audit of Local Authority Accounts such as Councils, Fire and Police Authorities. Some of the main tasks for a first year trainee (me) involve fully checking the draft accounts for mathematical accuracy, grammar and spelling, highlighting any queries which we then ask the client to explain. Many of the issues that are highlighted are completely acceptable and just need explaining by the client as to why they have adopted a particular policy or how it has been interpreted, but there is also the possibility that the trainee could be the first to spot a fraud by taking such a detailed look at the accounts. I think we all secretly smile inside when we find a small mistake as it means we are doing our job properly (although not many of us will admit we enjoy spotting other people’s errors).

Once the accounts have been smoothed through with a fine comb we can begin testing. At the final accounts stage of the audit we undertake substantive tests – testing balances, classes of transactions or disclosures to ensure they are complete, accurate and fairly stated. We use our audit software as a basic framework around which we can build our files. It is important to gather enough evidence throughout the testing and explain your methodologies well enough so that if necessary, another auditor could go back to the client and re-do the work (if you’ve ever tried to build a flat-pack of furniture then you will know how difficult it can be to follow someone else’s instructions). All of the major parts of the accounts are tested in detail, such as Property, Plant and Equipment, Payroll, Investments and Grants Received so there is quite a lot of variety in the work, as each area requires specifically tailored testing.

There are a number of steps to complete after the testing has finished, but generally these are taken care of by the in-charge and as a trainee we can look forward to our next job (keeping fingers crossed that it may involve a swish hotel with a swimming pool).

They say a picture says a thousand words and so if you would like to see for yourself the perks of being away on the Isles of Scilly, follow our Instagram (gt_trainees) where I will be posting pictures to make everyone in the office jealous.

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