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A Day in the Life: Senior Auditor With 10 Years of Experience at a Big Four Accounting Firm

8:00 a.m.: I like to get into the office early. I check my e-mail and voice messages and head to the cafeteria for breakfast, which I will devour at my desk while working. The next two hours should be quiet, so I can get much done without being disturbed. Based on my workload, I anticipate having one hour of availability today. So I e-mail the HR representative and inform her of this fact. For the next hour I read my e-mails, come up with the plan for the day, and second-level-review staff work. I notice piles of paperwork around my cubicle and make a mental note to straighten up my desk in the near future.

10:00 a.m.: Still reviewing the work done by one of my staff members. The review process is dragging since the work is subpar, requiring numerous corrections. This particular staff member is not very attentive, and his work contains numerous errors and omissions. I e-mail him to set up a meeting at 2. At 10:30, I attend the planning meeting with my entire team. The manager is leading the meeting, and explains our tasks and sets the timeline. The client under audit has few internal controls in place, which means we can’t rely on the reports provided by this company. This means that heavy emphasis will be placed on substantive testing. Particularly, we need to check most interest accrual calculations since this area was found to have numerous errors during last year’s audit. The manager speaks to the team until 11 and then asks me to take over the meeting, since he has a client meeting at 11:30 and has to leave.

11:00 a.m.: Once the manager departs, I continue the meeting and allocate work to staff members while providing them with detailed instructions. This is a large client so our audit team consists of five staff members, one senior (which is me) and one manager. Of course the partner will get involved at some point during this audit. However, his involvement will be at a very high level, and I don’t expect to interact with him frequently. At 11:30, the meeting is over, so I dismiss the staff members and return to my desk. I am currently working on three engagements, and I find e-mails regarding all three. Some of these messages are from my managers and some from the clients.

12:00 p.m.: I reply to e-mails and speak on the phone to clients.

1:00 p.m.: I don’t have time to take a long lunch. I run to the downstairs deli to purchase food, which I eat at my desk. While eating, I surf the Web and catch up on the daily business news. Keeping abreast of current economic developments is important in my field.

2:00 p.m.: The staff member stops by for our scheduled meeting. I explain that he made some mistakes and needs to be more detail oriented. The staff member seems to be visibly upset. Apparently he spent a great deal of time working on this project and was under the impression that his work was flawless. I take the time to encourage him and make a mental note to be gentler with him in the future. I also dedicate the next hour to his training. Specifically, I teach him how to test various profit and loss transactions and how to calculate accrued interest on debt securities.

3:00 p.m.: I attend an in-house training seminar led by one of the firm’s partners. I learn about the newest Financial Accounting Standards Board pronouncements and how they apply to my clients. The instructor asks the students to perform exercises designed to reinforce the topics covered. The two hours fly by fast.

5:00 p.m.: Receive a call from the human resources representative wondering whether I still have one hour of availability. If so, she has a small project for me. I review my schedule and tell her no. For the next two hours I document the audit plan for one of my upcoming engagements and fill out the appropriate forms/checklists. Some of these forms are more than 50 pages long. Undoubtedly, I am in for a long evening.

7:00 p.m.: Get a call from a coworker who is heading out for drinks. We decide to meet at 8:30. I wrap up my work and e-mail my managers with an update on each of my three engagements. As I am heading out at 8, I realize that a few other seniors are still in the office. Guess my workload isn’t bad in comparison to theirs.