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Learning more about our clients

This is in response to the question on how much we learn about the companies we audit.
This was actually a line of defense I used when defending auditing against tax to a co-worker. You really do learn a lot about the companies you audit. The smaller they are, the more you can get your heads around them easily. For the larger billion dollar companies, it takes time, but you will understand how they work. For example, I was on a software company and the client took the time to explain their product to me. I had to read through the accounting scriptures to see how software revenue recognition works, this is the most important accounting and financial aspect of the company. I had to look at the assets the company owns as part of performing audit procedures, and so I gleaned an understanding on what assets the company needed to own in order to function properly. And so on and so forth.
Now from my experience, you really get an understanding of your clients in your second year on any audit. The first year is more of a "let's just get this audit done" year and in the next year, you can focus on accounting issues surrounding the company since you already know how the company works.
Now, are you given a choice as to what industry you can be in? Well, this depends on the firm you choose. Some firms like PWC put you in certain industries and you dont' have much of a choice initially, but can transfer to another one later. At firms like KPMG, it is pretty broad and you can jump around initially. At EY, it really depends on the region you work in. But if you want to transfer industries, you have to actively push for it since they just won't do it for you if it's just a small email request. It's a long process for an industry transfer but if it's worth it, it has to be done.

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