I have spent reasonable part of my working career being a professional auditor (both internal and external). And this has made a lot of people ask me the following questions; ‘who is an auditor?’ and ‘how can I become an auditor?’.
So, in this post, I will provide practical explanation to the question ‘who is an auditor?’ and also attempt to give guidance on how one can become an auditor.
First off, let us start by providing some working definitions of some audit related terms in the next few paragraphs before going into the rudiments of becoming an auditor.
What is auditing?
Auditing is a 3-dimension function that is performed by a person (usually a qualified accountant) with the sole aim of giving credibility to a course. Auditing is a 3 dimensional activity in the sense that it involves three vital components without which there will be no such thing as an audit. The three components of auditing are; (a) The subject matter, (b) The object, and (c) The professionals.
The subject matter is a reference point i.e, a Standard – accounting standards for example. The object is anything of interest that we seek assurance about – a financial statement is a very good example. While the professionals are those performing the audit.
Auditing in a branch of accountancy with two aspects, internal auditing and external auditing. The internal auditors are in most cases employees of an organization, however, it is not uncommon to find companies that are outsourcing their internal audit functions to a third party auditing firm.
Audits can be either control based audits, or systems based audits or Risk based audits. The importance of risk based auditing has over the years made almost all auditors to adopt the risk based approach of auditing.
Who is an auditor?
An auditor is a finance professional who is equipped with the right accounting skill set mix to perform some activities that is aimed at providing credibility to an object. This object is usually a financial statement of a company. An auditor is someone who understands the salient yet loud language of figure.
What are the types of auditors?
We have many types of audit but for the purpose of this article, we will be looking at types of audit from two broad aspects, VIZ; (1) Financial Audits, and (2) Non-Financial Audits.
Financial audits include things like financial statements audit, cash forecast review for assurance purposes, business plan reviews, etc. while non-financial audit include but not limited to Value for Money (VFM) audit, operational audits, process audits, management audit, etc.
In all of these, the auditors’ major role is to look for deviations from normal ways or standards, look for reasons for the variances and then make recommendations.
How can one become an auditor?
We will look at how to become an auditor from two parts – qualification side and the skill sets need to be an effective auditor.
To become an auditor, one must firstly convince him or herself that they really want to become an auditor.
Having the right mindset is key as the auditing profession can sometimes be very frustrating especially if you find yourself in the internal audit space where virtually every staff member of the company you work with are constantly looking for ways to frustrate all your efforts meant to further strengthen the internal controls of a business.
Qualifications requirement of becoming an auditor
There are arrays of qualifications that one can choose from. However, the baseline qualification requirement of becoming an auditor is a first degree in a numerate field – I kind of recommend Accounting degree or Economics degree, you may wish to go for a PhD in Accounting if you so desire, but, trust me that is not necessary. Depending on whether one is intending to become an external or an internal auditor.
To become an external auditor, most countries require that one be licensed in addition to becoming a chartered accountant.
Other professional qualifications that are required in the field of auditing include but not limited to the following; (i) CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor, (ii) CFE – Certified Fraud Examiner, (iii) CIA – Certified Internal Auditor
Skill sets of auditors
To be a successful auditor in today’s world, an aspiring auditor or someone who is already in the field of auditing must possess the following critical next generation skills for accounting and finance professionals.
- Data analytics skill
- Fraud investigation skill
- Communication skill
- Knowledge of relevant laws in your jurisdiction
- Advanced technology skills
Summary In this post, we have explained who an auditor is, provided a working definition of auditing and finally gave some tips on how to become an auditor. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece as much as I did writing it. Please do leave your thoughts in the comment section below and do not forget to share with your network. Thank you.