Thursday, September 17, 2009

What’s It Like Being a Junior Auditor

I was a junior auditor twice. The first time was during my first 8 months in a Big 4 Firm. The second time was when I returned to the same firm after leaving it more than a year ago. That was in 1998 and 1999, respectively. So I can say I went through the whole routine twice. So what was it really like? More specifically, what exactly does a junior auditor do? Let me just enumerate some of them:

1. Simple account assignments – let’s face it, being the most junior in the team, you still have to feel your way around the client’s accounts, issues, hierarchy, protocols, etc., etc. To make it easier for you (and to make it easier for your senior or manager to keep tabs on you), they will assign you to simple accounts. Vouching property and equipment additions, testing reasonableness of depreciation expense, recalculating insurance expense (and the prepaid portion), updating continuing memos from last year – these are just some of those simple assignments that can be given to you. Oh and you can also be assigned to rolling over some online files from last year (after they make sure you know how to process online stuff, that is).

2. Basic trainings – chances are, the accounting firm where you’re going has its own “audit methods and procedures” and being a newly-hired auditor, you need to gain knowledge about these methods and procedures, pronto. So during your first year as a junior auditor, you will be sent to such trainings. Make the most of them, these are your chances to get free hands-on trainings where you can still make mistakes. After your training, your team will definitely be banking on you having the necessary knowledge about these methods and procedures.

3. Study permanent files and last year’s working papers / issues – one of the first thing my manager taught me was to learn everything I can about the client even before the actual audit started. So he had me borrow the permanent files and last year’s working papers so that I can study them. Permanent files can sometimes be a pain to read, especially if these are the files of long-ago audit teams. But read them you must because it is the surest way to gain knowledge about the client (not to mention you are expected to read these files). Reading last year’s working papers and assimilating the information there as well as knowing last year’s audit issues will help you gain an understanding on why things are done the way they are.

4. Be the regular errand boy / girl – Let’s face it. You’re the new kid on the block, the fresh face and the one who is, well, just simply there to be sent on errands. Photocopying, punching holes, filing working papers, dropping off confirmation letters, footing figures and balances, cross-referencing papers, etc. – these are just some of the things you might do during the course of the audit. Don’t worry, you’ll soon get the hang of it. By the time I passed the junior auditor stage, I was already a master in photocopying and filing things (which means I can do most of the stuff my junior auditors can do, lucky them).

That’s it. Only four items yet they’re packed with everything that you will do as a junior auditor.

Before I end this blog, let me just say that if you’re someone who’s going to be a junior auditor (or if you’re a newly-hired junior auditor), please don’t set your hopes too high. Don’t expect that you’ll be given the juicy assignments or the best accounts or the best client. You’re a junior auditor, for crying out loud, act (and think) like one. I’ve seen a lot of junior auditors leave the firm because they said their experience did not meet their expectations. And my reply was simply – “Are you sure it’s your experience or are your expectations just too high?” If you set these expectations too high, chances are, everything will just fall short because, hey, your team and the firm will not really adjust things for you. It will be the other way around. So good luck to you, junior auditor. Cheers!


  1. #4 reminds me of a fun experience: you ask your junior to do something, but they miss your message. You repeat the message.


    They never get it done.

    Not a great way to get the team to love you.

  2. Yes, and then they'll tell you they simply forgot because they were doing a lot of other things. Convenient, very convenient. :)

  3. Other things... like packing up to go home... [shakes virtual fist]


  4. Now that can be a common sight, especially if it's a Friday. We just can't wait to go home. It's like a contest or something, whoever is the fastest in terms of packing up wins :). Used to win it hands down LOL.

  5. Hi everyone, i have just joined an audit firm and i am very motivated.... i want to give my could anyone tell me things that i will have to keep mind and things that i will need to pay attention to...well just i would be very grateful if you guys can help me a bit??

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