“Audit profession unattractive to new recruits,” proclaimed PWC UK’s boss Kevin Ellis last week.

My first reaction to that is an auditor called Kevin is about as massive a contradiction as imaginable.

Nevertheless, unless you’re religious and believe you will live forever, auditing angels and harps and what have you, Kevin is surely stating the obvious.

It’s a constant puzzle why people choose certain professions, such as dentistry being a standout example.


He became an auditor because he found accountancy too exciting.

Probably found real accounting too hard?

My first job was as an auditor, for a few years. I resigned the day I qualified as an accountant.

When I was doing the job, I hated every second of it. However, I would say now that starting a career in auditing is great training. You learn a lot, which is relevant to running a business. For example, you need to opine on whether a business is a going concern. As such, you should understand business risks – particularly funding and liquidity.

Manufacturing firms typically fail due to either holding too much stock which can’t be shifted, or because debtors don’t pay. Financial services firms collapse due to lack of liquidity in their assets, or an inability to get funding. You could say that this is all obvious, but these lessons are rammed into you, and serve you well later.

Understanding accounting is a great skill to have when running a business. It’s not the only skill you need by any means, but it is useful.

After audit, I worked 24 years working in investment banks. Although I was more involved with risk modelling in banks, an accounting background occasionally helped. I now work as a property investor and small-time developer, and again I think having accountancy knowledge helps, even if it is unfashionable.

It’s easy to sneer at, but the yoof could do worse than complete a trade like auditing. For a start, they might learn some discipline.

He took the first job he found alphabetically.

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