The only phrase that scares accountants more than the phrase “social hour” is “annual audit”. It’s not that accountants aren’t social, it’s just that they aren’t social. In terms of the annual audit, this is a cruel and unusual punishment exacted on the accounting industry by non-accountants. It’s accountant versus accountant. Visor against visor. Poor communication skills vs poor communication skills. It’s not pretty, nor is it fun. I believe that audits were invented in order to pit accounts against themselves in order to eradicate us from the face of the Earth, or at least the business world.
It didn’t succeed.
Instead, it just made the accountant’s life more miserable and, yet, we tolerate it. Having worked in the world of accounting for 15 years I’ve been through my fair share of audits; none of which I’ve enjoyed. Regardless, of whether I enjoy them or not, it’s part of my accounting life and, as a way of helping my fellow accountants through these times of misery, I have answered some poignant questions regarding the audit process, and auditors in general, in order to lessen the degree in which others have to suffer.
My company is about to be audited, what should I do?
Close your business.
That seems a little extreme. Isn’t there something else I can do?
What is the purpose of audits?
The purpose of an audit is to ensure that the financial statements of a given entity are materially accurate and are represented in accordance with GAAP and any other applicable accounting standards. Also they increase the revenue of the mental health profession.
What is GAAP?
I have no idea, but if I had to guess I would say that it is an acronym that stands for: Got Another Accounting Problem
I’ve never been through and audit; what should I expect?
Audits generally go like this: The auditor (or auditors) show up at your place of business. You stare at them. They stare at you. A tumbleweed flies between you. A whistling, reminiscent of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, is inexplicably heard. Your coworkers are seen rushing into their offices and slamming their doors. Suddenly a paper shredder is heard and all hell breaks loose. #2 pencils are drawn. Visors are lost. Ledger paper lays on the floor in tatters. Tears are shed. No one is ever the same again.
Aren’t you being overly-dramatic?
How dare you! I suffer from PTAS (post traumatic audit syndrome) and I assure you that the nightmares I have every night are not overly-dramatic, but a result from the horrors that I have seen. The horrors!
Is it bad that I hate auditors?
Yes. Just remember what Dr. Dre (or was it Richard Nixon?) said: Don’t hate the auditor, hate the audit.
Have you ever enjoyed an audit?
Even a little?
I’m an auditor and I get where you are coming, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk in our shoes?
Yes, and it always leads to fungal infections
That’s not cool.
Neither is your toe jam.
Have you ever considered being an auditor?
Yes but then I remembered a line from Young Guns (or maybe Young Guns 2?) that went something like this: “I’d rather drink turpentine and pee on a brush fire…”
What does that mean?
I don’t know but it sounds unpleasant enough to not do it.
What happens if I fail an audit?
You will be ridiculed and banished from ever doing accounting again.
So I should try to fail an audit then?
At all costs.