Every semester I look around the classes I lecture and see the faces of the students sitting in front of me. I see pretty much the same thing every year, from most students. The faces may change, but the expressions are fairly similar. The expressions generally say the following:
“I REALLY don’t want to be sitting in an Auditing lecture, but I guess I don’t have a choice”
“Go on, I DARE you to try keep me awake for the next few hours!”
“This is the most boring, most irrelevant subject on earth, why on earth do I have to study this stuff?!”
and my personal favourite:
“Nothing personal, but I really wish this lecturer would pass out or something so we can get out of this class faster!!!”
There are a few students who clearly enjoy the subject, but they generally keep it quiet and whisper in my ear after class that they secretly enjoy Auditing, but I mustn’t share this with anyone! Scandalous!
Every semester I have a chat to each of my classes to try get them to see the value in their Auditing studies, so I thought I’d share some of these points and discussions with you.
So why don’t students like Auditing?
I’ve been lecturing Auditing at various levels for over 15 years, and I come across the same sentiment repeatedly. Students inform me they don’t like Auditing. A lot of them inform me of this before they’ve even started studying the subject! When I ask them what Auditing is about… they can’t actually tell me, but they do know they don’t like it! Why? They’ve heard so many fellow students complaining about it, that they’re not prepared to give the subject a chance. They adopt other students’ opinions as their own! (Reminds me a little of peer pressure!)
For the students who are studying it, there is a definite resistance against the subject, and a lot of it comes from the fact that it seems as though the work you put in doesn’t really pay off. That’s enough to put you off a topic. But why does this happen? Why is Auditing so DIFFICULT?!
It’s quite simply an expectation gap. Most students get into Accounting studies because they were good with numbers at school. Science, Maths, even Accounting. If you were strong with formulae and numbers, you were probably pointed in the direction of Accounting studies. Then, without any warning, you’re thrown into Auditing… and all the strengths you thought you had disappear out of the window!
Auditing is a communication subject. It is not formula driven, not numbers-based. It requires COMPLETELY different skills to Accounting. So if you got into Accounting for the formulae, numbers-based components, it is to be expected that Auditing won’t come naturally to you! This doesn’t make you incompetent, it just means that you need to learn different skills.
Accounting students are generally perfectionists. Most students want to know EXACTLY what they’re doing before they attempt a question… and with Auditing… that could be NEVER! You never feel like you know enough to attempt a question, and this doesn’t sit comfortably with perfectionists, so students revert back to studying something else they feel more comfortable with.
Is Auditing at all relevant to you?
This is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times over the years, by students who tell me they don’t plan on staying in Auditing practice after qualifiying.
My answer? “Auditing is probably the MOST relevant subject you study!”
No, I haven’t gone mad… I promise you! Think about this… as a professional who plans on working in finance, (in any capacity, in any industry) here are a few things you need to be able to do…
- Understand the risks associated with running businesses
- Understand the flow of information through a business
- Understand how to develop and grow a business by identifying things that could go wrong, and figuring out how to prevent them
I think we can all agree that these are extremely important, high-level skills that you’d need to run your own business, or anyone elses! Where do you get taught these skills? Tax? Accounting? Financial Management?
Auditing is the only subject you’ll study that will teach you how to assess a company and identify what’s actually going on inside that company. It will teach you how information and systems should work, to make sure you know how systems in a business should be set up, and what may go wrong if it’s not done properly.
Ask yourself… what makes a better businessman / businesswoman? Being able to calculate a figure in the financials? Or being able to assess the efficiency of the business and recommend improvements?
By teaching you how to ‘check’ something, you have to learn how it should be done as well!
Am I saying that your other subjects are worthless? Not at all… they are important, but get used to seeing the combined value to you as a professional of all your subjects!