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what should a rookie auditor be expected to know? [May. 1st, 2010|12:10 am]
Accountants - new, experienced, aspiring


I've just sent in my acceptance to a job offer at a pretty big, well-known local accounting firm.  It was actually my first choice, so I'm really, really happy to be hired.  At the same time, I want to make a very good impression my first few months on the job, and am not completely confident I'll perform well, since my Auditing class was basically complete crap, and it's been a semester since I've taken any financial reporting stuff.  In other words, I'm more than a bit nervous. 

So what does a rookie audit staff member need to know to get by?  What should I expect to be doing on the job, and how can I prepare so that I will do those things well? 

Another thing that I wanted to ask is if it's possible to study for (and pass) at least two parts of the CPA exam in 3 months?  I'd like to get FAR and possibly REG out of the way before the summer is over since the exam will be changing in January, only I'd have to register to take the sections next month if I want to test in July or August.  Really, I'm almost completely clueless when it comes to registering and planning for the exam, so any insight from someone experience would be really helpful!  

Any other advice of any kind would be totally welcome!  Thanks much in advance! 

[User Picture]From: seaofsin
2010-05-01 10:50 am (UTC)
I think most audit classes are auditing theory anyway. They don't really teach you how to audit. Don't be nervous, you should be trained on what to do. I don't think they're just going to throw you out there on your first day and say "Go audit Company XYZ".

As for the CPA exam, yes, it is possible to study for and pass 2 parts of the exam in 3 months. I took Becker review courses and started at the end of August 2008. I took and passed FAR in October 2008 and AUD in November 2008. I finally passed my last section in October 2009 and became licensed in February 2010.

Be prepared to give up your life for a year. Seriously. No parties, dinner dates, vacations, etc. You have to put in 25-30 hours of studying every week. I would come home from work and study until 9 or 10 every night. On the weekends I would get up early and study until around 3. I did nothing else.

I wouldn't try to take FAR and REG in the same window, though. Both FAR and REG have a lot of material to study for. I took mine in this order: FAR, AUD, REG, BEC.

Try to get at least two exams in during each testing window. Don't wait for your scores to start studying for the next section. Just go ahead and start studying. Don't let a testing window go by without taking an exam. Allow for retakes of the exam if you fail a section (most people do). I failed REG and BEC twice.

Check out www.another71.com. The guy that put this site together has a wealth of information about taking and passing the exam. There's also a forum where you can post messages and talk to other exam candidates. I found it after I falied BEC the second time. The support in the community really made a difference in my attitude.

Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: buckeyeschild
2010-05-01 01:32 pm (UTC)
As a senior at one of the big 4, please ask questions. Don't be afraid to do so. I would rather spend some time on the front end answering what you might think are silly questions than stumble upon a little surprise or have you sitting and spinning your wheels on stuff. Also, think about what you're doing. Don't just do what was done last year or on another one of your clients. Be proactive.

As for the exam, push through getting it done as soon as possible. It sucks to work all day then go home and study til bed but that's temporary. Just do what you have to do to get it done and off your plate. You'll be so much happier

Also, don't worry about not knowing too much. We want to teach you how we audit and what our methodology is. Just pay attention and learn why you're doing something as you go.

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[User Picture]From: blosmbee
2010-05-01 04:50 pm (UTC)
You're not expected to know much. You're expected to ask a lot of questions. Use the 10 minute rule- look at something and try to figure it out on your own for 10 minutes. If you've made little to no progress, ask.
Ask your senior how much time each section is expected to take, and keep your senior up to date on your progress- how much time you've put into a section, and how much time you estimate to complete that section- very regularly.

Every firm is different, but my jobs I always have the newbie auditor do the easy sections (cash, fixed assets, prepaids, A/P). Expect to do a lot of vouching to invoices.
I might also have them do internal controls walkthroughs (i.e. check that the client is doing what they say they're doing in terms of controls, approvals, monitoring, etc.).
Read trough the audit programs first to get an idea of what you're supposed to do. Ask if you're unclear about the language (terms like "foot" and "check the clerical accuracy" confused me my first audit. It just means redo the math and see that the total listed is correct).
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[User Picture]From: lolobird
2010-05-01 11:17 pm (UTC)
Passing 2 parts of the exam in 3 months is definitely do-able. I took my first section in July 24, 2008 (BEC), 2nd section during late October (FAR - the biggest and my biggest worry), 3rd section during the last week of November (AUD), and the last section 1/7/09 (REG). I'm not sure I would take REG and FAR during the same window, but it really depends on what your strong points are. Mine were AUD and REG and FAR and BEC were my problem spots, so I got them out of the way first.

Good luck! Don't worry, your first job at a firm is really a learning experience!
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From: n1cktm
2010-07-23 08:44 pm (UTC)

Big 4 auditor travel requirements

Hello everyone I am currently an undergraduate in a prestigious school and am interested in a career at Big 4 firms. The one question that I have is what are the travel requirements for auditor AND tax associates in cities such as NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. How often are the associates traveling and WHERE are they traveling to? Is it possible to get to the clients by car/public transport or is flying absolutely required? Does the associate have any preference as to what regions s/he will be traveling to and put on the team that matches that preference. Or are there no accommodations at all. The reason I ask is that I prefer not to fly and would much rather do audits in the surrounding areas and do not mind driving for a couple of hours. Is this a deal breaker? I know that travel at a top regional firm will be less but the experience/resume power that Big 4 gives is second to none.

Thank you for your time!
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