Working as a Public accountant – and how to become one

Why on earth would anybody want to be an auditor after studying many years accounting and law? Endless piles of binders and documents stored in dark, dusty cellars. Huge responsibility that clients financial statement information is correct (you can go to jail if you make a mistake) and very long workdays. It sounds like a horrorstory, but is it really that bad?

During last decade auditing has changed a lot from its stereotypical view. Digitalisation has done a lot and today there really aren’t big piles of paper and files anymore. Everything is becoming digital which means that like everybody else who are handling lots of data in ones job, an auditors job is becoming more and more consultant kind of a job.

With great power comes great responsibility. I could say that an auditors job is not for people who are afraid of taking responsibility for their own work. As a public accountant you really have ”great power” with respect to your clients. You’ll be the one who lets the company and for example its accountants ”off the hook” when you confirm that the information in the financial statements is right and they give true and fair view of the companys financial postition. There are investor money connected to companies and investors make their decisions strongly according to the information in financial statements. That’s why when the auditor confirms the information, it really must be right. And that’s why the consequences are so serious if an auditor makes a bad mistake.

An auditor’s work is actually seasonal. Most of the companies’, the auditor’s clients, financial year is the same as calendar year so it means that the most urgent period for the auditor is from January to the end of March. On that period auditors often do 12-hour-workdays 5 days a week but the good thing is that it’s only that period. In the summer there really isn’t any work to do so then there’s lots of time to have a vacation.

So what kind of a person must one be to have a chance to become auditor? Suomen tilintarkastajat ry describe on their webpage (http://www.suomentilintarkastajat.fi/yhdistys/ammattina-tilintarkastaja) that it’s important to have numeric understanding and problem solving skills to be good at the auditor’s job. Auditors also work in teams and most of the job is done in interaction with clients so good social skills are definitely an advantage. (http://www.suomentilintarkastajat.fi)

To get started on your becoming an auditor process you should contact for example the Big4-companies. Big4 is a term for four biggest authorised public accountants which are PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young. Those companies have trainee programs almost every year and they are hiring dozens of trainees so it’s the most common way to become an auditor. (https://www.pwc.fi/fi/rekrytointi/kisalli-ohjelma.html) At first you should certainly have a business degree at a university or a university of applied scienses so you have a chance to pass the paper elimination.

When you have entered the trainee program it’s basicly an open road. There is a long career path which you can climb step by step for example become a partner one day. When you have entered the trainee programme, the rest of the learning takes place inside the job. Later you have to pass a couple of tests (Finnish auditor examinations arranged by Finnish patent and registration office) to improve your skills in your career. The tests are pretty challenging but if you study hard and work even harder it’s possible to pass them. (www.prh.fi)

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