So you’ve made it! Successfully passed the recruitment process, and your first day at Audit Scotland is fast approaching. After four years of ‘enjoying’ the student lifestyle it is a daunting prospect starting at a professional organisation like Audit Scotland, but let me alleviate any fears you may have about stepping into the world of audit.
October – December: settling in
Having started in October 2013, my first month at Audit Scotland flew by as it was filled with corporate induction meetings and getting to know the team I would be working in. The corporate inductions were held with the whole of the 2013 trainee intake and allowed me to gain a much better understanding of the work Audit Scotland does, and how I would be contributing towards it, as well as getting to know the other trainees in my year.
With the corporate inductions out the way, and the systems training completed, it’s time to get stuck into some audit work – it starts that quickly! As soon as you are part of a team, you are let loose and given real responsibility with audit planning work required for the year ahead.
October is a great time to start as it allows you to settle into work, but it’s also not too far away from Christmas time, so it’s not that long until you have some time off to spend with friends and family. Don’t forget the merriment of festive team and office lunches!
January – September: time for the audit testing
With the festive period over it’s time to get back in the swing of things in January, preparing for interim audit visits and completing controls testing with the clients you will be auditing after the financial year end.
As part of the Central Government team, I am very fortunate to work with a number of different clients, so during this period I am kept busy, moving from one client straight onto the next and working with different colleagues. The interim audit visits provide a good insight into the controls which clients have in place for their financial processes, and it provides an idea of what testing will be completed during the final accounts audit.
April to September is the busy period for Audit Scotland, with final accounts audits being conducted. This requires transaction testing, reviewing of draft accounts and preparation of the audit reports. Something that has stuck with me since my first final accounts in 2014 was being told that every line in the financial statements needs to be tested, and it made me realise how many different areas there are to look at. It definitely keeps the work interesting, and at the end of it all when the audit report is produced, you can see where your work has contributed to the outputs of the audit.
September – December: ICAS!
After the busy period during final accounts, September, the start of ICAS, creeps up on you like a highly skilled ninja. The Test of Competency course comprises of six exams that are sat in December on three consecutive days. Definitely not spread out like the majority of uni exams!
September to December is a mix of ICAS classes lasting between two to four weeks at a time, and time back at work. The training set up at Audit Scotland is excellent, as there are no work distractions when you are on study leave, allowing you to focus completely on getting stuck into ICAS.
There’s no getting away from it, this is an intense time of year with studying taking up the majority of your free time, but after the exams you know you will be rewarded with another round of festive team and office lunches, and time off over Christmas.
January – now: the same again, but not the same
Come January, it’s back to work again, and you would think it would be back into the same work as last year, but no. So far this year, I’ve found myself working with the same clients, but on different areas of the accounts, allowing me to broaden my experience in auditing accounts. You’ll find yourself putting your ICAS learning to use, helping you get a better understanding of the tests you are working on. With ICAS Test of Professional Skill starting in July, there will be time to complete another set of final accounts before breaking off for two months of ICAS studying. Oh I can’t wait!
The important stuff: the social aspect
Now to the important bit of any new place of work, the social life. Audit Scotland has a very active social life, with the social committee organising numerous events throughout the year, including quiz nights, bake sales, bowling and the Christmas lunches. As well as that, you’ll find the trainees at Audit Scotland are a very sociable bunch, always willing to meet and catch up with each other.
My first 18 months at Audit Scotland have definitely been an excellent experience, having worked on a number of different audits and experiencing some great social events with colleagues, and I am definitely looking forward to the challenges of completing my ICAS studies and gaining more experience of audit work.
About the author
Mahrouf Shafi is a graduate trainee who joined Audit Scotland in October 2013 from the Bank of Scotland, where he worked for 15 months after completing his degree in Accounting and Finance at Heriot Watt University.