Audit managers are responsible for overseeing internal operating controls, processes and practices. They may also recommend changes and enhancements to existing policies and controls to make sure they are current, adequate, functional and utilized in accordance with standards established by the government and the company. Some audit managers will manage a team of junior auditors or accountants, reviewing their works and providing guidance.
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While the day-to-day tasks of an audit manager will vary by industry, company size and location, in general they will be responsible for the following:
- Planning and performing operational and financial audits
- Identifying business process risks
- Developing testing methodologies to evaluate the adequacy of controls
- Documenting the results of the evaluations
- Developing recommendations and reports based on audits and presenting these ideas to senior management
- Formulating professional development and educational plans for junior staff members
- Planning and allocating resources and individuals in accordance with skills and schedules
In addition to the skills listed above, today’s audit managers must be as technically proficient as they are mathematically proficient. That’s because there are thousands of tools and software programs available for auditors, and many of them have become ubiquitous in the corporate landscape. Thus, exposure to major enterprise resource planning systems like SAP and Oracle as well as other technologies is critical to success and ongoing career progression.
In order to be successful in an audit manager role, you should possess or develop some or all of these traits:
- In-depth knowledge of GAAP guidelines and Sarbanes-Oxley rules and regulations
- Strong background and experience with audit methodologies and techniques
- Prior success conducting external or internal audits
- Ability to build relationships while asking tough questions
- Excellent written and oral communication ability
- Strong time management and organizational skills
Unemployment rates for auditors remain less than half the national average for all other occupations, and the demand for audit professionals is increasing. That’s because, in the face of new, complex and challenging laws like the Affordable Care Act and Sarbanes-Oxley, companies are becoming increasingly aware of the potential penalties of noncompliance. Thus, businesses are developing internal audit teams, and these teams require managers to lead them. In addition, activity levels for external auditors are picking up, and they are targeting experienced audit professionals with managerial backgrounds.
According to our nationwide hiring data, auditing managers should expect to make an average base salary of $108,011 in 2014, while the expected base salary range is from $82,198 to $143,032. This represents a slight decline from 2013, when the average base salary was $112,463.
Successful audit managers can advance to even more lucrative positions. Auditing directors (often the next step up the career ladder) earn an average of $131,604 while corporate compliance executives make an average salary of $194,173.
At a minimum, audit managers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in a specialty area such as accounting, finance or business administration as well as eight years of hands-on accountancy or auditing experience.
However, at larger companies, you may be expected to have earned a master’s degree or an advanced professional certification as a certified public accountant (CPA), certified internal auditor CIA) or certified information systems auditor (CISA).
Your technical aptitude and resume will earn you an interview, but your answers need to be strong in order to land you the job you are after. Here are some questions you can prepare for in advance:
- What do you do if you have to audit a department where employees are unhelpful and deadlines are delayed?
- Have you ever discovered a seemingly small error or detail that helped identify a major issue? Tell me about that.
- How have you worked with colleagues above and below your level in the past?
- Can you tell me about a time when you identified control weaknesses?
- Have you ever been asked to audit an area that you had little experience in? How did you handle the situation, or how would you in the future?
- How have you, or how would you, deal with an investigation of a fellow accounting or auditing colleague?
Along with these interview questions, you will likely be asked to perform auditing exercises such as proofreading tax returns or loan applications, reviewing and responding to prior audit results or reviewing notes for sample audits and making improvements.
Building your network can help you learn new skills, keep you abreast of the latest rules and changes in auditing and enhance your chances of advancing in the future. Fortunately, there are many professional associations specifically for auditing professionals. They include:
- The Institute of Internal Auditors
- The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
- The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics
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