The auditing profession is perhaps the one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but why? It is one of the most important aspects of business. The world’s most successful companies rely on expert insights and analysis from auditors to provide credible financial statements and give shareholders the confidence that the accounts are accurate.
Meticulous and proven standards, controls and systems need to be in place to ensure any investment decisions can be made with confidence. For the world’s middle market businesses, accurate auditing is vital to support them on their growth journey.
In my role as Chairman and Founder of RSM Botswana I am responsible for the oversight of the Firm, client and human relations development, as well as governance, risk and compliance. My responsibilities may have evolved over the years as my career progressed, however my heart has always been in auditing, and I am proud to be in this field.
Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of the work, the achievements and hard-earnt skills of auditors can often go unnoticed. I believe it is important to share our career experiences to celebrate the profession, lift the lid on our achievements and encourage the next generation to embark on what has been for me, a very fulfilling vocation. So, that is why I am sharing my experiences here in this blog.
Why I am proud to be an auditor
I am proud to be an auditor because the very thought of audit increases my level of consciousness and alertness. Audit is often criticised as a post-mortem exercise. While that can be true, audit can also be performed pre-mortem by taking logically sound, rational, and objective decisions avoiding emotional, erratic, and compulsive ones. When that happens, the auditor, when he or she audits, will only give clean reports which is very important.
So, audit is more than a subject or profession. Audit is a mindset, a point of view that has no point of view - meaning, a mindset of purity, objectivity, and unbiasedness.
I am so glad that I chose audit and that I am still bringing auditing skills into whatever I do, including non-audit work.
The importance of role models
I come from a family of teachers and most of my relatives are intelligent, however they would not be considered affluent by most. Originally, I chose to specialise in the audit discipline because I hoped it would offer long-term financial security. I trained under a practitioner who hails from a wealthy community with wealthy clients. That practitioner has always been my role model because he taught me that wealth is not only found in money but also in mind, your approach to life, and attitude. He taught me that we need to like numbers because they tell us a story, good or bad, but accurately and without bias.
Staying at the top of your game
An hour of meditation and an hour of physical exercise each day - these two practices have been helping me stay on top of my game by finding time to choose between stimuli and response. Whenever I become dissatisfied with anything, I take it as stimuli. As an auditor, one gets to work with non-auditors and auditors-to-be. So, these practices help me connect with people around me and to grow with them. These practices also support an investment in formal learning I have made in order to continuously improve myself and allow me to keep pace with changes in technology and global business environments.
Collaborating with my peers
I served as the President of the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants and was a member of its council in various capacities over the last 10 years prior to that.
During my tenure, I contributed to surveys conducted by the World Bank on Observance of Standards and Codes in Botswana. I was part of the Ministerial Task Force reviewing the legislations on accounting, auditing, financial reporting and proposing new Acts which are all operational now. They were later termed the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants Act and Financial Reporting Act.
In addition, I also contributed to the review of the Botswana Companies Act. As the Head of the Tax Committee of the Institute I was responsible for certain amendments to the Income Tax Act.
Today I am in the process of presenting a new proposal to the Botswana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Business Botswana), which will consider seeking allowances for angel investing to encourage entrepreneurship in Botswana.
Instilling trust and confidence in clients and colleagues
There is no big trick here – I follow the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (IFAC). The rules are not easy to follow and that is why there are safeguards. I follow the safeguards rigorously and unashamedly, and make sure I do this for others and not just for myself. It is important that if you do anything for yourself against public expectation or clients’ expectation, you must disclose this openly and unconditionally. So long as you are the auditor, a financial incentive is clearly number two and never one. If you are keen to change that as a priority, change your profession. The trust you earn from this work can bring you much more than money.
Why a career in auditing is a great choice
You are dedicated to ensuring that investment funds flow to the right industry, sector, and company at all times. You are committed to your work, principle, profession, and institute rather than a company or a particular director or a particular shareholder. Your mere presence can deter wrongdoing. Ethics makes the knowledge complete. Indeed, I believe being an auditor is a safeguard to being a good person. The best part is when the board feels as if you have added credibility to it, when you have in fact, added credibility to financial statements. There are quite a few best parts when I consider it. It also teaches you how to be a good auditee before a quality assurance auditor.
Of course, you do need the right skills and mindset to be successful. You need the ability to review a finding or methodology once or twice, or even three times (or as many times as needed!) by yourself and through others, and then remedying any inconsistencies in order to form an unbiased view or a position that can be successfully defended against, and at any time.
This is precisely the process that successful people and companies employ to mine nuggets for growth and prosperity. If we make a conscious decision to grow and transform as a Firm or a Network, then we must go through the same process. This really is a great skill that is useful for our clients and for ourselves, equally.