Accounting according to Investopedia is defined as the systematic and comprehensive recording of financial transactions pertaining to a business. It goes on further to include the process of summarizing, analyzing and reporting these transactions.
This means invariably that the informal end of day calculation or summary a cloth seller in *idumota market carries out, as well as the formal quarterly reports a public company may be producing are all to the same end – Report! One of the major reasons for accounting whether formal or informal is to give report i.e. enable owners understand and be aware of the occurrences in the business.
What brings about the major difference between the formalities of the public company and the informalities of a sole proprietor in idumota market in accounting for their transactions is the volume, nature and complexity of transactions, therefore creating diverse accounting systems.
This brings us to the various branches of accounts, or the various types of accounting. Contrary to general opinion that some of these forms of accounting are professions in themselves, my understanding is that they are intertwined with accounting as they are in one way on the other related. Some of these branches or forms as I call them are taxation, auditing, stockbroking, financing, investing etc.
The focus of this write up is on one of these – Auditing. Wikipedia defines auditing “as a systematic and independent examination of data, statements, records, operations and performances (financial or otherwise) of an enterprise for a stated purpose”. The key words are ‘systematic’, ‘independent’ and ‘stated purpose’.
‘Systematic’ means it has a series of processes and is predefined, ‘independent’ means that it is carried out by an external body in relation to what is been examined and ‘stated purpose’ means there must be a specified outcome (result) at the end of the process.
TYPES OF AUDIT
There are different types of audit – Internal audit, Statutory audit, Interim audit, Systems audit, etc. what makes them different is the stated purpose (specified outcome) of the process at the end of the audit. People who engage in providing these services are called Auditors.
ATTRIBUTES OF AN AUDITOR
For one to be an auditor, one has to understand the ‘data, statements, records, operations and performances’ which one is auditing to be able to give a result. Auditors are usually required to have vast knowledge as they are called upon at any time.
To become an auditor, particularly in terms of accounting, a person must be very inquisitive, i.e. have an inquiring mind, must be very analytical and see relationships from seemingly independent or unrelated items (some of these skills are tested in aptitude tests of quite a number of accounting firms). The person should be meticulous and have integrity.
Due to the current situation of in Nigeria today, quite a number of auditors are from science or have science backgrounds, not minding that auditing is social science related. However, they are thriving well, a major contribution to this success is their membership of relevant professional bodies – made possible by completing various stages of examinations.
Therefore it is advised for those that have started considering this route from a pretty early stage i.e. pre-university or even whilst in the university, to begin the examinations of professional bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), etc. if possible while in the university. For those who are taking accounting as a degree in the university, exemptions are granted so as to begin writing from the professional stages after showing evidences of having completed a degree in Accounting.
There is an opportunity for everyone irrespective of field of study, even beginners in the accounting sector – with proper guidance.
Please note that the examinations are not prerequisites to working in accounting firms but they give an edge; ground individuals in the theoretical knowledge learnt and also give opportunities to rise to the peak (partnership) as well as possibility of owning an accounting (audit) firms in the future.
Before or after completing obtaining a first degree from a tertiary institution, it is good to have begun articleship (practical learning under an experienced and qualified accountant) in an accounting firm, where real life situations will be experienced.
There is a whole lot to learn, however I hope some of these points will be useful for someone considering a career as an accountant cum auditor.
*idumota market mentioned in this article is a popular market in Lagos Nigeria.
Dayo Macaulay. She is a qualified accountant and a graduate from University of Lagos with a degree in B.Sc. (Ed.) Economics, currently working with PKF Professional Services.
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