CPE for Government Auditors

Why you should tell your new audit staff everything

I didn’t know what I was doing – or why I was doing it – early in my audit career. I had taken one (one!) college course on auditing that looked nothing like what I encountered on my first audit. Regardless, I was now on the payroll and the firm expected me to earn my keep.

The in-charge handed me last-years working papers and told me to repeat what Arthur (the kiss up :)) had done the year before, but do it in less time. Then she walked away, wordlessly informing me that questions were not welcome.

I was expected to act, not to question or think. I was treated like a mushroom; fed a bunch of poo and kept in the dark! 🙂

The formal teachers were slide pushers

Yes, they sent me to new audit staff training for a week at a fancy hotel in Dallas, but every few hours they sent in another audit partner to teach the next module.  Most of the partners were subject matter experts, but they couldn’t teach their way out of a paper bag. They pushed slides and spoke in a sleep inducing monotone.  The segments did not all fit together, and it was getting darker all the time.

As a matter of fact, I almost abandoned auditing entirely. And that would have been a shame, because it is one of the most creative and impactful jobs you can hold with a CPA license.

After a few more gigs and after moving on to an audit organization that did allow audit staff to ask questions, I could feel the sun and was no longer a fungus.

Show them the whole picture of how an audit works

Don’t treat your audit staff like a mushroom.

I didn’t have to suffer that long

The darkness didn’t have to linger as long as it did. I just needed a little more guidance. And for that reason, I absolutely love serving as the sunlight for new auditors.

One of the best things about teaching new auditors is when their faces brighten and they exclaim, “Oh! That makes sense now!”  After teaching new staff auditors for almost 20 years, I anticipate the tough to understand areas and make sure we tackle them head on.

“I now have a better idea of why I do certain things in my audit work without just being like ‘that’s how its always been done’.  Now I know why I am doing them.”—State Agency Internal Auditor 

I wish I had me when I started out. OK, technically I was me then and now! Let me rephrase that…I wish I had gone through my audit training earlier in my career.  That way, I would have been a much better auditor sooner.

I believe staff auditors should be told everything

I get a call every so often that starts with a frustrated audit manager complaining , “My auditors don’t know how to think.”  They have sent their audit staff to new auditor training and they don’t understand why the audit staff doesn’t see things the same way the managers does.

That is because most new audit staff training focuses on fieldwork only.  Why?  One reason is so that training companies can sell you a beginning, intermediate, and advanced course and make three times as much money as they would if they would just present the whole audit process at once.  There is no such thing as ‘advanced’ auditing in my opinion; there are advanced audit techniques, but not advanced auditing.

“I liked Leita’s skills as a presenter. She was aware of the state of her audience the whole time and was able to circle back and explain ideas in a different way when needed.” Federal Grants Monitor

Another reason is that leaders don’t think the staff will be overwhelmed by the whole truth. But what I needed back then, and what I think all new auditors need, is a big picture view of how a whole audit works.

“It makes sense now! Before, I was using a template of old finding letters and trying to follow along with them. Now I understand how they should be written.”  Auditor in Public Practice

Yes, even though they may not be responsible for all of the parts of the audit right now, audit staff need to know how to plan an audit and choose objectives.  New auditors need to be able to draft a solid finding as well as design tests and document their results.

It doesn’t overwhelm them, it gives them context and makes their work meaningful.

“I’ve been an auditor for 5 weeks. Until this course I felt in over my head. Now I have a clearer understanding of my purpose at work.”  Internal Auditor

The reason the new auditor isn’t thinking about the impact of their choices is because they don’t know what happens next. My training lets them know what happens next. And we experience it together, and when they get back to work, they are ready to take on any assignment.

Do you believe that, too?

Do you believe you should shine the light on the entire audit process instead of keeping the information about planning and reporting on an audit to yourself?  Then send your staff my way.

You have some options – some of them coming up very soon.

Live in Austin in July

Webinar series with assignments in September

Self-directed study

I look forward to helping you and your staff shine!



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