Joanne Seeds – Making Sense of Numbers!

Dreading Auditors is part of the corporate culture that has been passed down through management to all employees for years.  It is time to change that culture and improve relations.

This is not going to happen overnight.  But, a change in how we view the Auditors and how they view companies they audit, can improve a companies bottom line, tension between the two bodies, and the overall well-being of financial records.

How do we do this?  There are things that both sides can do to improve relations.

As a corporation there are many things that can be changed:

  • Look at the audit as a way to improve, not reprimand departments for failing to meet the requirements.
  • Reward departments for finding problems and coming forward, accepting that issues are a way of life. It is more important to work towards solutions.
  • Don’t place blame.  Analyze the issue for the root cause and work on resolution and controls.
  • Plan into monthly schedules the audit requirements.
  • Document procedures for effective management of processes and to ensure standards are in place and updated regularly.
  • Review controls and narratives to ensure values are traceable to the source, include future review dates.
  • Set standards for creating new reports which meet audit requirements
  • Improve communication of changes within and with other departments.  A change in procedures in one area could affect others.
  • Regularly review procedures for outdated processes.
  • Train staff on new software versions highlighting those changes that might save them time.
  • Technology can be your friend, use it to your best advantage.

Corporations are not the only area where a change in view is needed.

It is also time for auditors to review the way they carry out their functions.  Auditing areas can:

  • Work on changing the “Culture” of auditors to ensure that the collaboration is utmost in their interactions, as opposed to finding errors and placing blame causing defense mechanisms to go off.
  • Develop ways to replace the manual ticking and bopping of numbers on a computer generated spreadsheet, saving time and reducing costs.
  • Realize the limitations of departments, computer resources and size of staff to ensure that the means to the end is within the time constraints and the value added is worth the cost.
  • Be available for questions and flexible on the time constraints.  Clients know you have to have the information, but they have other deadlines too.
  • Help the client to understand the end result of your request, they know their job better than you do and there may be another way to provide the information.
  • Talk to the client, learn what they do.  One of the worst things an auditor can do is follow the same script year after year.  Understanding goes both ways and it will help you develop the rapport with the client.
  • It is very easy to put the client on the defensive without trying.  Be friendly and personable and if you feel the client is getting defensive, step back and understand why they might feel that way.  Remember, the goal is improvement.

At the end of the day, we all want what is best for the corporation.

I believe that this can be done without apprehension and stress created when year-end audits arrive.

We are all learning better ways of approaching people, corporate attitudes are being replaced with new corporate culture and technology is taking us to new heights.

Auditors can still provide impartial results, but do they have to be feared.

A new day is dawning where improvement, understanding and corporate controls can be achieved with more collaboration between auditors and accountants.

Knowledge can be the driving force to stop corporate corruption and improve financial reporting.