A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about my experience of being an in-charge for the first time and all the work I had carried out so far to plan the audit. Now, two weeks later, the audit testing is done, the file has been reviewed by the manager and partner and I think I can safely say that the last fortnight has been very challenging but rewarding. One of the things that has really struck me about being an in-charge is how relevant the CLEARR values are and in this blog I hope to provide some context as to why we look for trainees who can demonstrate the CLEARR values.
Being an in-charge is all about collaboration. During the audit I collaborated with the client, the VAT team, the tax team and the rest of my audit team. To ensure that everyone had the right information at the right time to ultimately result in meeting the final deadlines with the client required me to be constantly organised and to communicate with everyone to ensure that they understood any issues and the progress of our work. At times I encountered issues that I hadn’t come across before or ones where I wasn’t sure of the best solution. In these instances I contacted my manager to ask his opinion, which ensured that by collaborating as a team we could achieve the best outcome for the client.
As for leadership, whilst out at the client site I organised my own work, the information I required from the client and the work of my assistant (one of my fellow trainees). I learnt that the real skill of leading an audit is to organise the work so that assistants are challenged and can learn new skills without making them feel out of their depth and under pressure. I also learnt that it’s really important to manage the amount of information requested from the client to give the client time to prepare information without making them feel overloaded and inundated with questions.
When working on audit assignments we have to ensure that our work is high quality, which I think fulfils the excellence value. This is why the work is reviewed by the manager and the partner of the job. These reviews meant that I had deadlines to work to and so I had to ensure that my work and my assistant’s work was ready for review.
Agility is all about being flexible and on this audit I think I had to show agility due to the January weather conditions…Snow blizzards! Despite having five days of work at the client planned we only managed to go to the client for three days. This meant having to liaise with the client by phone and having to think carefully about the information requested to ensure that the client didn’t have to scan substantial amounts of paper. The most challenging aspect of this was that I still had the review deadlines to work to and so organisation of what information I needed and when became even more important.
Despite the reputation of accountancy for being very “numbers-based” I found that being an in-charge not only requires being able to make technical decisions but also requires building good relationships with the client. Under the respect value, by gaining the trust and respect of the client, the client is much more likely to be happy with the audit service and work with the audit team to ensure a smooth process.
Finally I think the most important value for an in-charge is responsibility. At the end of the day I felt that I was responsible for the file, for ensuring that all the work was done and for making sure that the client was happy with our work on-site. Although at times this wasn’t easy, and it did mean working a couple of extra hours in the evening, when I got to the end of the audit I felt proud of what I had achieved.
I hope this blog has given you some insight into what it is like to “lead an audit” and what our CLEARR values really mean in terms of our day to day job in audit. I hope this has shown that the phrase written on our careers website which says “you could be leading clients and assignments in your second year” truly is a reality and has been one of the best experiences I have had in my progression on the trainee programme so far.