Kickstarting my career in accounting: why audit was the right step for me

Having grown up in Austria, I wasn’t aware of the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification until I studied accountancy at university in the UK. It was during this time that I realised a career as a CA would be the right path for me – while accounting is straightforward in theory, it’s complex in practice, which is a challenge that I enjoy. But I still had to address the question of what field of accounting I wanted to start my career in. I didn’t want to specialise too early on, as I had never worked in an accounting-related profession before graduating.

Once I started researching the different graduate opportunities, I quickly realised that audit was the accountancy specialism that had the most graduate positions. After looking into it and researching what exactly an auditor does, I wanted to begin working in this area.

As an audit trainee, you get the unique opportunity to learn about a variety of businesses. Every few weeks, you audit a different client – this could range from a charity, housing association, investment fund, limited company, or partnership.

During audits, I deal directly with the Chief Financial Officer or Finance Director of businesses – this is hugely beneficial when starting out, as it requires you to be very client-focused and introduces you to senior-level people. Most graduate positions don’t offer this level of insight into different businesses and how they operate. What’s more, as part of the audit process, graduates often visit client offices, some of which can take you in interesting directions: I once audited a fish farm and had to spend a week in a container by the harbour – the smell was horrendous!

During my second year of training, I was given the responsibility to lead audits, which helped build my technical knowledge and develop soft skills such as communication and people management.

After completing three years of training in audit to become a CA, I can look back and say with confidence that choosing audit as a starting point for my career was the right decision: it gave me exposure to a diverse range of businesses and insight into their operations. It’s an area that offers lots of variety, and I can honestly say that no day is ever the same.

Author – Denise Kaufmann, Audit Assistant Manager