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What does an auditor do?

Finance teams are made up of several different people performing important roles. One of which is an auditor – but what does an auditor do? Let’s take a look, kicking off with our auditor job description.

The auditor job description

Auditing is a job that can be found in a range of industries. A quality auditor makes sure that their area of expertise is up to standard. A financial auditor is a quality auditor of sorts, ensuring that financial documents are up to legal standard.

An auditor is authorized to review financial records for their accuracy and compliance with local tax laws. An auditor is not the same as an accountant. An accountant will help organise a company’s day to day finances and compile reports, tax returns, and so on. An auditor’s job is to verify that this has all been done correctly and legally. Generally speaking, an auditor will look the at the following documents:

  • Balance sheet

  • Income statement

  • Cash flow statement

  • Notes on the above

It is not the auditor’s job to compile these documents – that is the duty of the accountant.

What is the role of auditor?

As mentioned, the role of auditor is to make sure that financial reports are accurate and compliant, free from either intentional or accidental mistakes that could be interpreted as fraud. The precise role of auditors in specific businesses will vary depending on where the role takes place.

An internal auditor is employed as an employee of a company and their role will be to check the reports of the company as well as its bookkeeping procedures. As an in-house role, the auditor can provide guidance and intervention should any financial task need to be altered.

An external auditor will perform an audit from an independent position. They will be employed by an accounting firm, and will work on different company’s documents on a case by case basis. An external auditor will perform similar tasks to an internal auditor but is required to have undertaken slightly more in-depth training as they apply their skills to a wider and potentially more varied selection of businesses. An external editor may only interact with a company once, say, near year’s end, and never again. They are not a permanent fixture.

Is an accountant an auditor?

No, not all accountants are auditors, but many auditors would have originally qualified as accountants.

There are several routes into auditing, some of which involve a finance degree followed by a professional qualification from ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) or AIA (Association of International Accountants). Other routes include training schemes that run between 3 and 5 years, replacing the need for a degree.

Each auditor job description will have its own list of requirements, with some companies preferring applicants to be graduates.

Is there a minimum qualification for auditor roles?

As mentioned above, there are different ways to become an auditor, so there’s no universal minimal qualification for auditor jobs that all applicants need to hold. However, for individuals who want to be external auditors, there are more rigid prerequisites.

To be an external auditor, you must be a qualified chartered accountant from ACCA, AIA, or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The minimum requirements for these positions vary, but are generally the equivalent of at least two A Levels, which can include alternative qualifications such as BTEC, ABE, and AAT.

If you want to be able to run audits in the public sector, then you will need to be a member of The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. To be an internal auditor you will need to be qualified as a management accountant with CIMA, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Do I need to take the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors exam?

No, it’s not compulsory that an auditor takes the exam course set by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, but in doing so, they will gain the designation of CMIIA, which is highly respected within the industry. It’s also possible for highly experienced auditors to gain this designation without taking the exam route, as the institute also considers applicants based on experience. 

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