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Lihle Z. Mtshali
If you are capable of working under strict deadlines and are a systematic individual with great people skills and willing to travel, then a career as an auditor could be for you. Auditors need to be disciplined and proficient with numbers so they can clearly communicate the outcome of their audit to shareholders, investors and banks verbally and in a written report.
There are two types of auditors, namely: internal auditors who are employed by and work within an organisation and external auditors who are employed by accounting firms and get sent on assignments to audit clients' financial affairs.
To qualify as an auditor you require an honours degree in accounting and will have to complete three years of articles with an accounting firm.
Those still serving their articles are known as audit clerks or trainee accountants.
Nomfundo Mzobe is serving her third year as an audit clerk with one of the world's most prestigious accounting firms.
As an audit clerk Nomfundo gets sent on assignments to various companies to scrutinise their financial information to ensure that the numbers are valid and not fictitious, just to make the company look good. Companies need an independent assessment to assure them that the interests of their ownership and assets are well-looked after.
During the audit, the audit clerk also looks at the organisation's operation controls to make sure that fraud is not happening.
Depending on the size of the organisation to which the audit clerk has been assigned, the time spent at a client can vary from two weeks for a small client, to over a month for big corporations. The clerk works from the client's premises for the duration of the audit as the information they handle is confidential and a high level of integrity is essential.
Nomfundo's love for number-crunching led her to this profession and the fact that she excelled in accounting at school went a long way to assist this.
She says the greatest challenge of working as an audit clerk is that the assignments you are sent on are so diverse. The clients come from different industries and before every audit, clerks must familiarise themselves with the regulations that govern that particular industry. The auditing procedures are similar but are tailored for each client.
"You have to plan the audit and that means really knowing the ins and outs of the industry and the risks that the client faces," says Nomfundo.
Part of the planning process for an audit clerk serving her third year of articles involves preparing the right staff to work on a particular audit.
"Going from one industry to another you become a broadminded person because one month you can go from the pharmaceutical industry to manufacturing and the next month you could be auditing the tuck-shop around the corner," says Nomfundo.