Key Financial Jobs at a Glance: What Does an Auditor Do?

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Master of Accountancy

Auditor reviews her client’s financial statements.

Auditors work to ensure accurate accounting and company bookkeeping. Recently, auditing has been making the news for technology’s role in the industry.  Yet, as Forbes highlights, technology can’t “replace the unique skills that human intellect, judgment and leadership bring to the table.”

Advanced skills that technology cannot replicate, such as interpersonal communication, are where auditors stand out. Developing and refining these skills through an advanced accounting degree program and professional experience allows professionals to strive for their highest potential. So, what does an auditor do, and how can professionals elevate their abilities to take advantage of coming opportunities in the industry?

Job Duties

What does an auditor do? In the simplest terms, an auditor’s role is to review company financials. Of course, the process is complex, as it involves a vast array of information, people and even companies. Their workplace can be in small firms, governmental agencies or global enterprises.

Financial auditors gather financial information from a variety of sources, interacting with different people, teams and departments within a company to secure financial reporting systems, tax returns and balance sheets, among other information. While analyzing these components, an auditor must communicate with personnel from all management levels, including executives, to gain a holistic view of the company and its operations.

Auditors are on the lookout for financial reporting system errors and other known issues, in addition to discrepancies they may find on their own. Their daily work may include reviewing specific documents, such as invoices, payments and billing paperwork, to ensure compliance with accounting and bookkeeping guidelines.

Once an auditor’s analysis is complete, he or she develops recommendations for the company, often suggesting changes to procedures to improve efficiency and performance. The information and analysis that auditors gather and compile are used to correct errors and alert executives to any instances of accounting fraud. Auditors themselves are not responsible for the errors they find.

In some cases, auditors must attest to the audit’s information. An auditor’s attestation is a company-wide financial stamp of approval, indicating that all operations are running appropriately. This can be beneficial to companies looking to prove their trustworthiness to clients and potential investors.

Essential Skills

A financial auditor’s skill set includes math, attention to detail, organization and communication.

Math

Financial auditors must be able to analyze various forms of information, including both documentation and employee testimony. Auditors need math skills to understand financial documents and report summaries of these figures and part of their role.

Attention to Detail

Analyzing financial statements and other types of content requires attention to detail. Small items that otherwise escape notice may be crucial to completing a full analysis and crafting the subsequent recommendation for the most effective course of action a company can take.

Organization

Due to the influx of documents that are part of everyday life in this profession, auditors must be organized. Learning organization and administrative skills is key to creating semblance of order from the many details in the documents they may receive to analyze for the audit. Their complexity requires thorough review and detailed reporting for the organization’s stakeholders

Communication

Advanced communication skills play a twofold role in auditors’ day-to-day interactions. First, the information an auditor gathers must be sourced from company employees and executives, which requires clear communication. Then, once a financial auditor has analyzed the financial documentation with speed and accuracy, he or she must be comfortable with communicating findings to executives and financial personnel.

Advanced Skill Sets

Earning a Master of Accountancy or a similar advanced degree can help professionals cultivate the essential skills needed for the role of auditor. For example, students in Rider University’s online Master of Accountancy program can strengthen their knowledge in a specific area of accounting by choosing from three different concentrations — business analytics, finance and forensic accounting.

Specific advanced skill sets, such as business analytics and finance, may be of great value while auditing larger companies due to their complex operations.

As the Houston Chronicle points out, financial auditors need to be skilled in risk analysis — the “ability to look at a company’s finances and create reliable advice, usually through statistical testing, of financial quality.” To complete a risk analysis and subsequent recommendation, auditors need an advanced skill set, including sharpened abilities in federal tax laws and filings, financial reporting, accounting data analysis and international accounting — all of which are offered in a Master of Accountancy program.

Salary and Growth Potential

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $70,500 in 2018. According to PayScale, auditors are making an average annual salary of $59,180 in 2019. Furthermore, the BLS estimates auditor and accountant jobs will grow by 10% between 2016 and 2016 — faster than the 8% average projected growth for all occupations.

The Future of Auditing

As businesses grow and technology becomes ever more intertwined in their daily operations, auditors need to have sharper skill sets and advanced working knowledge of systems that may come into play during their careers. Pursuing an online Master of Accountancy is an excellent way to stay on the cutting edge of the field, potentially opening up new opportunities in this growing industry. For more information, inquire about furthering your accounting knowledge and sharpening your skill set with Rider University today.

Sources

Forbes, “Five Skills Auditors Need To Succeed Today”

Houston Chronicle, “Effective Quality Auditing Skills”

PayScale, Average Financial Auditor Salary

Rider University, Master of Accountancy

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook: Accountants and Auditors