24th February 2017

My First Months in Financial Services Audit

I joined the Financial Services Audit team at Mazars (London) as part of the Graduate Scheme in September 2016. The first three months have been a whirlwind of new faces, confusing documents and exams. Whilst it has been demanding, I think I have learned more in those 3 months than I did at university. When they say it’s a steep learning curve, they weren’t joking! At the same time, the vast majority of people at Mazars were in your position at some point and worked their way up through the company, and so understand what it’s like to be in your shoes. Everyone is very supportive and they make sure that you get as much out of your first few months as possible.

The first week was spent building up our understanding and appreciation for Mazars and the services they provide (if you were wondering this yourself, I suggest having a look here: http://www.mazars.co.uk/Home/Our-Services). This was a nation-wide event, meaning we were able to meet our colleagues from across the UK and get to know them through various events throughout the day and night, such as team challenges and a quiz night. The following week, we were in college with BPP studying for our first exams as part of the ACA! This is the Chartered Accountant qualification for those studying under the ICAEW. For those studying the ACA (generally this is Audit, FS Audit, and some Tax graduates and school leavers), this was the Accounting and Assurance papers, which gave us a good grounding for the job and meant we had the rudimentary knowledge to ease ourselves into the first week on the job.

The work you do on the job depends on which clients you are booked on. Irrespective of which clients you have, you will report to the more senior members of the team and assist them with whatever tasks are needing to be done. Examples of responsibilities I had during my first few weeks included writing bank letters (documents requesting information from a bank), reviewing draft financial statements, summarising Board Minutes, and training (on your service line and Mazars practices). Whilst you learn a lot from having a range of clients, the job becomes really interesting when you are booked to a client for longer periods of time. One of the great parts of the job is that a large part involves understanding how businesses, and specifically your clients, work and the longer you are on a client, the more in-depth an understanding you can build up. In this way, a career in Audit sets you up with the skills to be able to take on jobs in any profession and in any industry.
In Financial Services Audit, the two main types of clients are Insurance companies and Banks. Whilst you will be able to gain exposure to both of these, you will generally begin to specialise in one, based on the jobs you work on through the year. I have been lucky enough to have been put on one of the largest Insurance clients for a large part of my first year, meaning that I now have a good understanding of how the company (as well as the industry) works despite having come in with no previous experience.

Whilst there will be times you are based in the Mazars office, large portions of your time will be spent working at your clients’ offices if you work within Audit. There you will spend time meeting with senior management, including Financial Directors and heads of departments, to ask questions and gain evidence to support the main purpose of an Auditor – to give an opinion as to whether the client’s financial statements give a true and fair view of the company’s financial position. Whilst a large proportion of Financial Services clients have their offices in London, our speciality (being one of the only dedicated Financial Services Audit team for Mazars in the UK) means we often have clients elsewhere across the country. If this is the case, Mazars put you up in a nearby hotel to ensure that you are comfortable and happy.

There is a good reason why being an Auditor is a well-respected career – it is a tough balancing act between working and studying. The ACA is a 3 year qualification which entails taking periodic exams whilst working. This means that you will need to dedicate some of the evenings and weekends to studying. However, Mazars understand that this is difficult and provide you with extra days of holiday which you can take to study towards your exams. Even though it can be a challenging few years, the qualification is highly regarded by employers and you have the rest of your graduate/school leaver intake (as well as the company as a whole) to support you through your exams.
Of course, the job doesn’t end there. There are also a host of other aspects you can get involved in during your career at Mazars, if you so choose to. Just in my first few months I have: • Written for the Graduate blog (you might have guessed that one!)

  • Taken part in the Mentoring Scheme for applicantsRepresented Mazars at various careers events
  • Represented Mazars at various careers eventsHelped out at Assessment Centres
  • Helped out at Assessment Centres
  • Assisted in internal work on Business Development

There is also a well-established Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) group, who give back to the wider community through a range of activities. Some of the recent outings included the Pensioners’ Tea Party and Food Bank Challenges. Everyone at Mazars has one extra day’s holiday they can use to take part in CSR events.
Moving from education into the world of work is never going to be an easy transition, but Mazars have made every effort to ensure it is as smooth as possible. When I was making the decision as to which company would be best suited for starting my career in Financial Services Audit, it wasn’t actually any of the aspects mentioned above which swayed my decision. In the end, it entirely came down to how approachable and friendly everyone was that I met from Mazars, and that continues to be the reason that I recommend Mazars to those looking to start a career in professional services.

Emma Riley
Corporate Assistant in Financial Services Audit, London office

  • Audit
  • Financial Services
  • Graduates
  • London