Its no secret that auditors are generally not perceived positively. As a former auditor, I remember how difficult it was to know that you are dreaded before you even walk in the door.
Despite that, I fully understand why clients feel that way. Auditors descend on your office, demand to see the work you’ve done all year (with all relevant back up), look through it, question you incessantly about it (and often in extreme detail) and then tell you its wrong.
To add insult to injury, most of the ‘work-horses’ of the audit industry are under 25 years old. It makes sense that people with years of experience don’t look forward to the 21 year old university grad second-guessing their work and suggesting changes. It’s a situation that’s bound to end in frustration.
And to make things even worse, a lot of times the people who deal with auditors aren’t finance people and don’t even really get audit.
But I’ve brought a message of hope! No, not hope that the actual process will somehow improve. Hope that the experience can be improved with a slight change in perception.
Auditors are actually on your team, not your enemies. They have a government/regulator mandated duty to do their job, and it’s a good thing they do.
Their goal is to complete that duty at the least cost (financially, time-wise, and psychologically) to the client (and themselves).
Usually (at least in Canada), audits are fixed fee projects, meaning that auditors do not charge more for taking longer. They have zero incentive to drag the process out, and every incentive not to. Auditors’ performance is judged on minimizing the time spent on an audit. If an auditor finds something ‘bad,’ yes it means more work for the client, but it also means a ton more work for the auditor. I can promise you that auditors are not robots and do not enjoy being crammed in a windowless room all night trying to find more reasons to be there. They want to go home and enjoy life like the rest of humanity.
So the next time your auditor keeps you late, or requests some minor detail you don’t think is that important – just try to keep in mind:
The auditor and client are teammates in completing the job that regulators force them to do.
If everyone who deals with auditors takes this to heart, the process will be a lot less painful. I can speak from experience here, because I was gifted with many fantastic clients who did feel that way. Not only was it a pleasure to work with them, I always noticed a strong correlation with going home earlier (which meant the same for them).
And ultimately, we all make mistakes, so having someone find them and tell you about it before it causes any damage doesn’t really sound that bad.
Being an entrepreneur with no large team to support me, I wish I had an auditor catching my mistakes!