Working as an external auditor is a great career choice. The job is in-demand. As long as there are businesses, there’ll be a need for financial services.
You can also expect a good salary, as well as ample opportunities to continue your education and development.
Working as an auditor at a Big 4 firm is especially favorable since these companies train their employees extensively and expose them to many different clients and industries.
However, because of attractive exit opportunities for auditors, especially if they’ve been working at a Big 4 company, many of these professionals choose to leave the profession after a few years.
If you’re wondering “What other jobs can an auditor do?”, read on. Below I list four exit opportunities for auditors.
When To Leave Big 4 Audit
As an auditor at a Big 4 company, you have many possible career trajectories to choose from. One option is to stay with a firm with the goal of eventually becoming a partner.
However, only a small percentage of all starting trainees make it to partner. The reason for this has nothing to do with skill or work performance. It is rather because there are so many attractive Big 4 audit exit opportunities.
Don’t discount mid-tier and smaller companies, though. While auditors who work for such companies may not enjoy the same abundance of choices, they still have several audit exit opportunities.
So, when is the best time to pursue these audit exit opportunities? Is it advisable to leave early on in your career or later on?
The good news is that you have options.
The first exit point is after two to three years of experience when you’re an associate. After gaining a few years of working experience, you will have the know-how to move on to another role, while avoiding the danger of out-pricing yourself on the market.
Others, however, choose to shift to another career at manager level. With four to five years of experience under your belt, you will be an expert at leading teams and building strong client relationships, which will open up many audit exit opportunities.
Career Paths for Auditors
Here are a few examples of careers that auditors can pursue. When choosing an alternative career, you should consider factors such as work-life balance and salary.
You should also think about whether the job is a good fit for your personality. If necessary, you can always upskill yourself.
Transaction Services (TS)
If you’re looking for a front-office role, a career in transaction services may be a good choice. These professionals support and guide companies during business transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions.
One of the most common tasks that a transaction service provides is due diligence, which involves creating reports that verify the viability and legality of a transaction.
Since this is a fast-paced profession that offers variation in work responsibilities and tasks, it’s an attractive option for auditors, especially those who wish to leave the profession early on in their careers.
Since the Big 4 companies offer transaction services, you can try to make a move internally if you’re working for such a firm. Or, you could apply externally if switching internally is proving challenging — which is often the case at these firms.
If you’re applying externally, supplementing your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification with a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation will be helpful.
For many auditors, consulting is an attractive exit opportunity since it has a much bigger scope than auditing.
While auditing involves reviewing a company’s financial statements to ensure that they are accurate, a consultant identifies key risks and issues in a business and then provides solutions.
This type of work is normally project-based, and since each project is different, your responsibilities and focus will differ from one project to the next.
There are many different types of consulting jobs. Apart from working as a financial consultant, which will be a smooth transition from auditing, you can also focus on other aspects of a business, such as strategy, operations, management, and technology.
As is the case with transaction services, you can attempt to make the shift within your company if you’re working for a Big 4 firm, or another company that offers consulting services.
However, Big 4 companies sometimes place a limit on the roles that auditors can apply for. If you really want to change roles internally, your best move would be to network like there’s no tomorrow.
Letting the right people know about your intentions may just open doors for you. Otherwise, you’ll have to apply at another company.
Obtaining an MBA from a top business school will definitely boost your chances of gaining a consulting position.
Moving from an external auditing role to internal auditing is also a great option. Internal auditing is an ongoing auditing function that’s performed by an auditing department within a company.
Through internal auditing, a company can gain assurance that its governance processes and risk management are operating optimally.
As an internal auditor, you will be able to leverage a lot of the knowledge that you gained working as an external auditor. Plus, you will also obtain an in-depth understanding of how a business works.
You can either move into an internal auditing position within a Big 4 firm or you can move into an in-house role at a company.
In a Big 4 firm, internal audit will be more focused on consultancy work, which means that you will be advising clients on company processes rather than working with financials.
The type of work you’ll do will vary from client to client. While some clients will want you to check all processes, others will want an internal audit on specific processes.
While risk management and internal auditing overlap, they are distinct professions.
Internal auditing includes evaluating risk management processes and giving assurance that these processes are effective. Internal auditors also monitor risks across a business and create holistic reports.
However, internal auditors do not impose risk management processes, take decisions on risk responses, nor do they manage risk on management’s behalf. These are the duties of a risk management team.
Depending on your role, you may either be responsible for defining an enterprise-wise risk framework, or you may work within a specific business unit of a company.
Operational risk is a popular career path for auditors, especially when moving into the banking sector from a Big 4 company. However, you can also move into risk management at a Big 4 company.
As part of the enterprise risk management team, you’ll help organizations integrate risk management into their business and strategic processes.