Why Audit? : An Interview with Sharon Collins

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Recently Gareth Spowart, Senior Public Practice Consultant at iMultiply sat down with Sharon Collins, Partner from Thomson Cooper to discuss why people should consider a career in audit.

Sharon, you joined Thomson Cooper as Partner just over a year ago – how have your first 12 months or so been?

The first few months were hectic as I joined TC with clients, without a full team and with a significant amount of admin work required. However, one of our strengths is the willingness to help each other and ‘muck in’ where required.  This made the transition easier and with the warm welcome from everyone the first few months whizzed by. I very quickly settled in to become part of the TC team and contribute to our growth in audit and business advisory services. Suffice to say I enjoy life at TC.

Lots of newly qualified accountants, especially those who have trained within the audit departments of Big 4 and Mid-tier firms, are very keen to move away from audit as soon as they qualify. What would be your advice be to these individuals?

Audit is often pigeon-holed into something it isn’t where candidates may have been stuck doing specific areas of an audit or have only been involved in the routine audit work. I have always viewed audit as an opportunity to meet clients, build up a rapport, get under the surface of the business and really understand the business and how it works. This is a great way in which to develop business advisory skills and personal attributes. At TC our audit team also have exposure to accounts preparation, tax work and assisting the partners with their client portfolio with regular partner and client contact. A move from an audit only team to a team where there are opportunities to use existing audit skills and develop other skills and areas of experience can be valuable.  There are great opportunities in practice for those who enjoy the variety of work and client contact as succession planning is an issue for many firms.

How would you sell Thomson Cooper as a Firm to a potential new employee?

I wouldn’t want to ‘sell’ the firm as it needs to be the right fit for both candidates and us as an employer. However, I am enthusiastic about what we do here at TC and that is shared across our partner group and team. We have many long serving staff which is a great testament but we don’t rest on our laurels and are currently undertaking a full staff engagement process to help us improve upon what we already do. We are also active members of Accelerate, a UK wide network of accountancy firms, which enables all member firms to knowledge share and have access to training and technical support. It’s a great way of opening up discussions with other firms of varying sizes.

What do you see as the future of audit?

It is an interesting time in the audit sector. As a profession there is a general acceptance that audit will change and we will have to both prepare for and adapt to any changes ensuring that we drive through the audit quality which has been found to be lacking in those very public examples.  There is also the question of whether audit is a one size fits all or if audit compliance requirements should differ depending on the scale of the entity being audited.  Our audits are quite different from those of the Big 4 audits of multi national PLCs but the same underlying principles apply to enable auditors to arrive at a ‘true and fair’ opinion in the audit report. At TC we have an audit committee which ensures best practice within our firm irrespective of the external cold file reviews and ICAS reviews and we are committed to meeting our own internal standards.

What are the progression opportunities for someone joining the Audit team at Thomson Cooper?

You only need to review our partner profiles as many of our partners either trained with the firm or joined the firm not long after training elsewhere to know that where someone has the ambition and skills opportunities are available to progress. We are strong believers in developing skills and growing our own talent and within audit we can provide invaluable experience from working with a wide range of clients and having exposure to non-audit work.

 

If you are interested in joining the Thomson Cooper team, please contact Gareth Spowart, iMultiply Consultant: garethspowart@imultiplyresourcing.com; 0131 603 7745.