“The grass isn’t always greener.”
When you work in audit, you hear a lot about the benefits of working as an internal auditor. However, at JCW, we are on the phone delving into the insights of people who sit on both sides of the fence every day, and the conversations we have with external auditors about why they do what they do is vastly undervalued. Here are the significant benefits we’ve discovered about working as an external auditor based on the feedback from both sides.
Internal auditors often have to do more travel than external auditors.
There’s a misconception that internal auditors have the sought-after stability of working in the same place. On the contrary, the role often involves having to visit each global location, national offices and any other company bases such as a manufacturing site, regularly. In fact, the more senior you become as an external auditor, the more you have a fixed workplace as opposed to multiple client sites; which works for a much more stable home life.
You don’t have to endure ongoing business changes or restructures.
As an internal auditor, you must think strategically and mitigate ongoing risks around business decisions and project planning. However, sporadic changes can interrupt the long-term analysis you're tasked with. You are expected to perform regardless and there are people above your rank and in different teams that will go against your advice. You need to compromise and expect less control over the results you produce. As an external auditor, you have much more autonomy over your work.
You don’t have to deal with the same personalities all the time.
As an internal auditor, you experience a honeymoon period which inevitably fades, and there are negative personality traits and management characteristics in people that you have to endure for a long time. A lousy manager can hamper your career success and dealing with the people who you work with and their ongoing problems can sometimes be more stressful than the job itself.
When something goes wrong, they’ll ask ‘where were the auditors?’
“People don’t listen to you until something goes wrong.”
As an internal auditor, you are expected to be involved in project planning. Some people will go against your guidance, there may be multiple levels involved in project execution that you can’t expect to oversee, and a report of the internal auditor can be influenced by management. Despite this, in the event of a problem management often turn to auditors to ask what happened. As an external auditor, you work on the balance sheet and move on.
“Familiarity breeds contempt.”
How many times have you told your manager, partner or best friend something, only for them to hear it from a 'consulting expert' and listen? While the business relies on you as an internal auditor, frustratingly, people tend to disregard advice from someone they are more familiar with. When a business brings on an external auditor, they hear advice from an unbiased stranger who’s not privy to office politics and the background of the business which can resonate better.
Do you work as an external auditor? What aspects of your job do you like best?
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