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Audit Planning

We just had our “planning meeting” the other day, i.e. the meeting where the senior and above in an audit team get together and go through the big issues that need to be tackled for the upcoming audit. I must have zoned off at least 5-10 times during the meeting. It can go head-to-head with boredom at times, but it gives you an understanding of what the partner really cares about. The way I see it now (sure it might change down the road), Partners only care about the hot topics that either the client might be violating or needs to be in accordance with. These hot topics are always in the internal documents circulated to the higher ups to keep them abreast of the happenings. Their capital,i.e. their finances are on the line, so they have an extremely vested interest in making sure the firms don’t take a hit. This pressure then descends onto the senior managers/ managers, who want to make partner and so need to impress the current partners since the partners vote to approve new members of their hallowed brotherhood. So the senior managers / managers start talking about control risks, significant risks and all that other boring stuff, and what they need to do to CTA…i.e. cover their asses. “We need to document the company’s compliance with FAS 100, FIN 46, SOP 97-2…and it goes on and on.” By we, they mean the seniors.
Shit. So the seniors end up getting piled up with “shit” like one of the comments noted earlier. “Write a memo on this FIN, that FAS, this SOP...”, oh and the budget’s been set, so la-de-f’in-da, have fun with it. Now my line of thinking is that the staff can deal with the “significant accounts”- Cash, Revenues, Receivables, Fixed Assets, etc. But trust me, speaking from experience and being on both sides of the coin – senior and staff/associate, the staff can get away with things, and if they’re not doing a good job, then the senior has to step in at fix it, and this adds to the burgeoning list of responsibilities. Then it’s up to us to stay within the budget. Why can’t they tweak the system a little bit to say – “okay, so let’s have the planning meeting, see what additional issues we have to take care of, take into account the new personnel joining the team (lack of experience,etc.), and change the budget.” Don’t make the budget first and then plan it out.

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