What are your opinions on audit?

Wondering what everyone's general opinions are on audit as a practice, people that come out of audit into finance, etc. If you have an audit background please indicate so, would love to hear from people with experience.

Comments (54)

Most Helpful
Sep 15, 2022 - 1:51pm
Stonks1990, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A safe, linear-oriented career. You search "audit" on this website and you're going to get a bunch of IB interns talking about it's a 'dogshit' and 'back-office' career. It's not true. Accounting/Audit is not a glamorous career from a 'prestige' side of things, which makes it inherently unattractive from all the toddlers you see yelling about their Goldman offer and thinking anyone else is lower.Β 

My uncle was a career-long B4 accountant, staying with two companies his entire life - both in audit. He rose the ranks until he was a partner in a west coast office, and was making more money than 90% of the people on this website. After that, he transitioned into a CFO/COO role at a tech company, and then he made more money than 98% of people on this website. It's not as glamorous as it looks, and often produces a lot of BORING people. But it's not a 'bad' career whatsoever - just less risk, more linear, and a sturdy well-paying career.Β 

Sep 15, 2022 - 2:38pm
K-Peezy, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Stonks1990...

SOX ain't going away kids...

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Sep 15, 2022 - 3:01pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Audit sucks. It's really boring.Β 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
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Sep 16, 2022 - 12:30pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž

Audit sucks. It's really boring.Β 

Hahahahahahha someone gave MS for "Inaccurate" lolololol probably an AID (Auditor In Denial)……

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Sep 15, 2022 - 3:31pm
PrivateTechquity πŸš€GME+BBBYπŸš€, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Mr. Steal-your-girl if you're a PhD student

Agree with Isaiah though. Stable but boring which imo sucks.Β 

Array

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Sep 15, 2022 - 3:36pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

it's boring as fuck. It's actually remarkable how boring it is.

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Sep 15, 2022 - 10:14pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

the good ones even don't care imo. I saw so many times where people were just like "what did we do last year" even after they found actual findings. It's so mind-numbingly boring.

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

  • 1
Sep 15, 2022 - 4:18pm
account8675309, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I had an older relative spend their career at the Big 4. Made ~$300k-400k as a standard partner, ~$500k-600k as a senior regional partner, and ~$1-1.25M+ as a national managing partner. Most will never get anywhere near there, but it also wasn't the top end either - the C-suite adjacent partners are more like $2-3M. They're now retired with a mid six figure cash pension. First two were upper MCOL cities (think Chicago / Atlanta / Dallas), while the last leg was in NYC.Β 

Might not be the numbers people in PE / HF / IB aspire for, but for 99%+ of people this would be an extremely successful career.
Β 

Even if you never progress past line partner, $300-400k of cash comp and a couple hundred a year in retirement is extremely cushy. It's stressful as hell to get to partner and most burn out or get coached out, and partners are just as stressed (arguably moreso), but your sales (in audit, at least) are also largely tied to recurring, legally-mandated, annual expenditures. If you bail to industry, you can still jump into CorpFin at an accelerated pace vs climbing the F500 ladder internally
Β 

Burnt-out senior associates and comp-obsessed bankers will tell you to avoid, and no one will deny that it's stressful, (relatively) underpaid, and boring, but objectively it's still a great place to start your career

Sep 15, 2022 - 5:02pm
Stonks1990, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can confirm that partners are more stressed - see comment above for also having a family member in audit. Honestly, I was like "man, you're mid-60s aren't you supposed to kick back and chill?", but there was always work to be done. Don't even THINK about reaching to him anywhere near earnings week. Some people are scared by bugs, others are scared by 10-Ks... ha!

Sep 16, 2022 - 12:41pm
abc124356, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How long ago was this? Can assure you big 4 audit partner comp way exceeds those figures in modern times. Base pay for partners when I left was somewhere between 400-600k depending on tenure, plus their dividends. Which were usually about 1x salary as well

Sep 16, 2022 - 3:20pm
monkey0114, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The average big 4 profit per equity partner in the UK is like Β£750k (before pound collapsed) so around $1m in dollars but salaries in US are generally always higher so probs a bit more. Although people make partner like late 30s early 40s but once you make it you're pretty set considering the big 4 pension.

Sep 17, 2022 - 12:36pm
account8675309, what's your opinion? Comment below:

They're recently retired, so the $300-400k was ~20 years ago, and the $1.25M was just a couple years ago. I'm the trustee for their estate, so we discussed financials at length. I don't have any visibility into what average partners make, just this one, but I'm fully willing to believe it's increased comfortably since then

Sep 15, 2022 - 10:18pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1,000% right

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Sep 16, 2022 - 3:13pm
K-Peezy, what's your opinion? Comment below:
abc124356

Busy season was brutal for the pay we got lol. I remember working 8am - 2am daily during earnings on my less than 70k salary

I know the pain considering I took up the baton on the financial reporting end afterwards and shared the same hours and then some. Busy season is a rough ride.

Sep 15, 2022 - 5:58pm
Five Star Man, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's all trajectory and interest dependent.

If you're interested in digging through old excel files that don't foot and begging the finance team for support, but having busy season be three 60 hour weeks, then it's a good gig.Β 

If you're not interested in 2% bonuses, then it's likely not for you.

Sep 16, 2022 - 12:48pm
abc124356, what's your opinion? Comment below:

3 weeks and only 60 hours/week would've been a DREAM lmao. Industry group dependent, but mine went from January to the end of April every year working anywhere from 60-90hrs depending on the week. I think our firm minimum billable amount was 55hrs/week

Sep 17, 2022 - 6:30pm
Incoming cfa level 1 charterholder, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is one of the most inaccurate posts i've seen in the past year on wso. People in accounting get fucked. Long hours and horrible comp and career ops relative to people working similar hours (bankers, lawyers, etc)

I have a fried that has 3 busy seasons, which are 1-2 months of working 90h weeks. Bonus for such a year was like 7 kΒ 

Array
  • 1
Sep 17, 2022 - 10:37pm
upser1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can you explain a little further? everyone here seems to be all over audit and how you can be pulling 7 figs as a partner even though like 99% don't get that far, or so I've heard.

Sep 16, 2022 - 10:02am
ironman32, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've worked in audit and know people in audit.Β 

As above, I'd say if you make it to partner then yes, it can pay pretty well. You really just need to ask yourself if the ends justify the means (not trying to make it dramatic, its an office job):

Pros:

- High percentage chance of promotion and pay increase each year. As long as you do good, have a good reputation and don't get staffed on bad jobs, there is a good chance you will get promoted and a pay bump. As they say, theres the stairs and the elevator to the top; i know people who basically lucked out and got the elevator.Β 

- if you go B4 thats great name recognition on a resume, opens a lot of doors. The longer you stay the better you're looked upon in the job market. Also, B4 gives great training which is highly looked upon. A lot of the things you learn at B4 are very transferable and you see a lot but not deep level.Β 

- Lot of "fun" events, networking, you do get to travel a lot if on the right client. I'm a CPA myself, but more a banking/investing guy than anything else. If I had to draw a line between banking and accounting firms, I'd say the accounting firms had people who are a little more "quirky" which isn't bad, just different.

Cons:

- Biggest con to me is, you really, don't do anything. Meaning, you do a bunch of work in terms of test of details, test of controls, but every audit report says "the goal isn't to determine fraud". An audit report, at its heart, is just someone asking you, "is this correct" and you going "yea i guess", because really you are sampling, and millions of dollars are immaterial to big companies. Essentially, you are just checking work in probably a 1/20 of the time that was used to prepare the work. Being an auditor is also like being a personal trainer, you have to give the client results, but if you push them too hard they will prob find a trainer who goes lighter on them.Β 

- Hate to say its boring, or lack of prestige, but thats what it is when it comes down to it. Its why every financial movie is about trading or banking but never audit. Most of the time you're in a back room, trying to get documents from people (a) prob hate their jobs/don't know what they are doing (b) don't want to talk to you. Add on top of that, if you're somewhat young, you need to keep your head down in terms of what other people are doing with their careers, because you really question working for 50K in busy season when some of your friends get bonuses that big.Β 

- There's probably a good chanceΒ  you won't make partner anyway, and prob most of that is out of your control.Β There's also a lot of inter-office politics. Mostly around billable hours. All work is bid on, so the lowest bid usually wins, which means shoe-string budgets, resulting in less billable hours. So even if you want to do more work on something, or you put in 10 hours of good work, the partner asks you to bill 5 hours of work, then your review gets messed up at year end for not having enough billable hours.Β 

Sep 16, 2022 - 4:05pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ironman32

I've worked in audit and know people in audit.Β 

A lot of ex-auditors in CRE ;)

I'm a CPA myself, but more a banking/investing guy than anything else. If I had to draw a line between banking and accounting firms, I'd say the accounting firms had people who are a little more "quirky" which isn't bad, just different.

Not to throw shade, but oftentimes I've heard about people facing some stereotype bias as finance people can view CPA holders as being accounting/audit types. I'm not sure how prevalent it is, and usually it's not a big deal, but it's something for people to be aware of and can just be annoying to get through.

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

  • 1
Sep 16, 2022 - 5:36pm
ironman32, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1. Career wise, it definitely has been a somewhat unconventional path (accounting/auditing, banking, RE consulting). Lot of hustle and right place right time.

2. You're probably right. Again, more right place right time. I know my stuff so that helps, but I probably don't know the "bias" I've received on that end. To a point, I'd say most of my career I have been interviewing; not so much to leave and job hop, but mainly as a way to keep my resume sharp and up to date. So I hit on a lot of job topics if you will.Β 

Sep 16, 2022 - 12:24pm
RandomAccountant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's not bad. Really depends on your team, industry, and what interests you. My main client does a lot of transactions and deals which means a lot of technical accounting work and memos which I find interesting. Other clients are just retail inventory with counts and extrapolations and confirms for large cash balances/level 1 investments, which can be pretty boring although easy. Some clients are hard to work with and aren't very knowledgeable. Others are top notch, make bank, and give you an idea of what you can exit to if you play your cards right. It'sΒ usually pretty flexible and pay is not bad - make around $70k (salary and bonus) as an A2 in a lcol area in the South at my firm. Some firms pay much better than others. Average working 9am to 6pm most days with some short busy weeks for the 10-Qs. Busy season on large accelerated filers is like 10am to 2:00am or 3:00am Monday through Friday in the months of January and February. Most of the firms are still virtual/hybrid - depends on client though. Exits vary but rn I'm consistently getting offers for Senior positions in industry at around $85k to $95k with bonus ranges from 5% to 10%. Higher up is better pay and opportunities but they also get more flexibility - I know several managers and directors who are on month long plus vacays rn. I take around a month off in December and the first week of January.Β 
Β 

Overall I enjoy it enough and it gives a good amount of flexibility to pursue your other interests as long as you get the work done. The skill set and experience is really what you make it. You can definitely cruise or you can put in some effort and get very knowledgeable in your space in both the accounting and business sidelines. Hope that helps/gives you an idea about the job.

Sep 16, 2022 - 12:38pm
abc124356, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Started my career in audit then made the switch to restructuring consulting.

IMO B4 audit is the best place to start for a non target kid. Big 4 audit was often the best path for those of us who didn't grow up with a ton of money (grew up pretty poor tbh) or with parents in the corporate world. Certainly a safe and boring career, but goddamn do the partners make a ton of money. All my partners cleared 1m the year I left

Sep 16, 2022 - 2:52pm
abc124356, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yep same here. Nobody from my school went into banking. I honestly think the accounting majors had better exits at my small non target state school. All the finance kids went to work at a local credit union. PWM if they were lucky, NWM if they weren't

Sep 16, 2022 - 4:02pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ironman32

agreed. Its the starting spot I feel for people (like me) who didn't fully grasp what banking was growing up. I went to a smaller college, and the accounting department was pushed way more than the finance department in terms of jobs.Β 

Yeah, same at my small school. The main exits were military (40%) and engineering. All the business majors were pushed towards CPAs. I think your use of the word 'banking' is a bit generalized. I would refer to it as investment banking as being a bank teller is very different.Β 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Sep 16, 2022 - 4:01pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
abc124356

Big 4 audit was often the best path for those of us who didn't grow up with a ton of money (grew up pretty poor tbh) or with parents in the corporate world.

This is a really good point actually, not to say that there aren't first gen college students getting into IB, but that's not something you can bank on if you're an average person.

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Sep 16, 2022 - 9:02pm
Ehmerica, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Public accounting on the audit side is a great career path. B4 will give you some 'prestige' but smaller shops will get you exposed to a lot of different businesses. Plenty of exit opps as well. Every CPA I know has down very well.

Only two sources I trust, Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures.
Sep 17, 2022 - 10:38am
Bancroft, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Was an auditor. Managed to move to a hedge fund doing TMT long/short equity after a year and a half.Β 

It's not a bad career path at all, whatever people say here. Do your time in the Big 4, move to some controllership role that pays low six figures, punch the clock 9-to-5, have your sh*t... and before you know it, you're a CFO.

There are plenty of hedge fund analysts who can't find work after 36 and are still chasing that one big bonus -- but I don't know of any unemployed CPA's.

Big4 Audit --> TMT L/S

  • 3
Sep 17, 2022 - 12:38pm
jimmycrickets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think audit is a great long term career but I would just hate the first 5-7 years. I remember talking to a girl I was interning under and she said she worked at KPMG audit around 2014-2016. She said she made around $47k total como starting out working 70 hours a week. Yes you can get to $200k a year in 10 ish years working 40 hours a week but I just think doing IB to start out and then a corp dev role at year 6 ish you will be making 140-180k and have been able to invest a lot more upfront early in your career. If you go PE in LMM you will easily surpass the amount you make over audit and probably enjoy the type of work you are doing more. It seems to me as a no brainer but it depends on what you want to do and what you like.

Sep 18, 2022 - 1:02am
abc124356, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Audit comp is much higher now. First years start at like 72k in HCOL. 200k is possible in like 6-7 yrs as experienced manager

Sep 17, 2022 - 4:27pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Gucci Loafers

tech/finance > law/med > accounting

tech/finance>med>law>accounting>garbageman>auditingΒ 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 3
Sep 17, 2022 - 11:12pm
Roger Sterling, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž
Gucci Loafers

tech/finance > law/med > accounting

tech/finance>med>law>accounting>garbageman>auditingΒ 

I'm biased but law sucks. It's too saturated and carries such high school debt. If you don't get into T14, you might as well not even do law

Sep 17, 2022 - 4:22pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Auditing be like:

-

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 2
Sep 17, 2022 - 4:47pm
K-Peezy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm gonna have to respectfully disagree. You know I trust you [Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž] as an OG, but unless you have been on something as big as Halliburton / Baker Hughes merger (to date ourselves)? Payroll audit for Papa John's in PA, NJ, NY is a biaaaatch.

Sep 17, 2022 - 4:54pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

ohhh ok wow

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Sep 18, 2022 - 11:19am
anonguytoibd, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can speak to a fantastic internal accounting team that I worked with. Accounting is shit on by people on this forum for a number of reasons but I can tell you that at one of the companies I worked at, it was perceived to be one of the strongest teams at the entire company. For this reason, they got involved in all sorts of special projects delegated by the CEO and CFO and had a big impact. All their best people got promoted quickly vs. many other groups. Their core strengths, aside from numerical proficiency, were creating sound processes for the entire company and asking thoroughΒ questions which helped keep a problem organization honest, which was and likely is still a huge problem. Without going into revealing details, this broader team created huge headaches P/L wise and for strategic planning and M&A as their assumptions for everything were grossly inflated but hard to verify for a number of reasons. Their c-suite leader backed a lot of these assumptions up and was a political headache. The accounting team was a godsend in dealing with this team and helping with their processes.

Those were the positive attributes of this accounting team but there are some negative biases aside from the typical ones you hear on this site. In accounting, you are mostly looking at historical numbers and ensuring their accuracy. You build a great detective-esque competency plus understand best practices in business operations that translate to a clean P/L. But because of this focus, you don't build a skillset that's forward looking and commercial. This business acumen is gained by thinking and working through growth scenarios. That fantastic accounting team I worked with while great a fixing processes and keeping people honest, was uncomfortable in creating action-oriented forecasts (should we do x or y as opposed to this is what we expect our revenue in Q4 to be) and often prioritized things incorrectly. To summarize, you focus on known things and reduce subjectively in accounting while in any forward looking commercial activity, you focus on the unknown and subjective.Β 

Sep 21, 2022 - 12:53pm
Lester Freamon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Sep 22, 2022 - 8:13pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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