Upskilling your people enhances the overall quality of the services performed by the audit profession, reduces risk of non-compliance with regulatory and legislative requirements, and more importantly, creates ongoing succession plans within not only your audit practice, but within the audit profession as a whole.
With the audit profession facing talent and staff shortages, upskilling your people is key to staff retention and closing this talent gap. When your employees are well trained, they are happier, work more efficiently and make fewer errors, meaning your practice and the profession also benefits from satisfied clients, due to higher quality services being performed.
Further to this, training and upskilling your team can lead to additional service offerings and specialisations, such as IT Audits and Sustainability Audits. These opportunities already exist given the upcoming requirements of ASA 315 Identifying and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement, and discussion already underway regarding the future services of audit practitioners when it comes to sustainability matters.
At National Audits Group we believe it’s critical to invest in the people of today, to ensure we have the necessary resources for an even greater tomorrow.
Outlined below are some key matters we recommend you consider when developing and implementing your training plans.
Timing & Capacity
More and more the audit peak season is becoming non-existent with high-pressure, and deadline driven work needing to be completed all year round. Therefore, the success of training and upskilling your people is critical, as it can impact their ability to not only retain information, but also implement revised workings to improve and comply with necessary changes.
For training to be effective, you need to ensure your team has capacity and the ability to limit distractions when training is being held. More importantly, this mindset must come from the top down, with managers and directors leading and promoting the importance of training, and that it is OK to have tools down so you can get the most of the training. Remember, “What you put in is what you get out”.
With webinars and other online forums for training becoming more and more accessible, you also need to ensure you limit training fatigue by scheduling out your teams training over the course of the year. The timing of training required should also coincide with the timing of changes and updates within the profession for a more effective outcome.
Most recent changes made within the Australian Auditing Standards have taken effect for financial years beginning on or after 15 December, which will impact your 31 December clients. Therefore, the period from October through to December is usually when a practice should focus their training towards audit standards, methodology, and procedures.
Further, software providers such as CaseWare release their annual updates to their audit working papers and financial statements modules in October, which also includes enhancements to the program based on the required changes. The implementation of these changes requires time and capacity to update which can’t be performed without prior understanding.
Whereas, most recent changes made to Australian Accounting Standards and other regulatory and legislative requirements, have taken effect for financial years beginning 1 July, which will impact your 30 June clients. Therefore, the period from April to June is usually considered key from this perspective.
Legislative and regulatory changes aside, it is also critical your practice ensures an equal amount of time is invested in the development of your teams’ professional skills throughout the course of the year. Professional skills are key to any business as they have an emphasised focus on teamwork, problem solving, communication, adaptability, critical thinking, time management, and so much more.
Not all training needs to be outsourced, and not all team members require the same level of training. This gets back to “Having the right people, doing the right thing, at the right time.”
Understanding the current needs of your team is critical not only at a team level, but at an individual level as well. At National Audits Group we have our team conduct a personal SWOT Analysis on an annual basis to gain a more in-depth understanding of their skills, areas for improvement, opportunities ahead, and potential challenges which require our priority.
Over the years, this process has led to open and safe discussions being held with the team regarding their training requirements. As individuals we tend to focus more on the negatives and areas for improvement, so this process also allows the team to take stock and acknowledge the strength of their current skills and experience, and to look forward knowing the opportunities these strengths have already created.
When people are given responsibility over something they are passionate about, they are more likely to feel empowered and valued within the team. At National Audits Group we have designated for-profit and not-for-profit specialised teams, which are then further supported by internal ‘industry champions.’ Industry champions are those who have taken an interest within a particular industry, for example, registered clubs, aged care, AFSLs, who then lead the teams overall understanding of the industry, legislative, and other key matters, for the betterment of the team.
Internal technical sessions and on-the-job training should also be a critical component of your training plan, which is not limited to a certain level of staff. At National Audits Group, our mentality is that you can’t put a price on the importance of your team (including Directors and Managers) sharing their own knowledge, skills, and practical experience with other team members. We lead our employees to invest in one another, and that their success is our success. Internal technical forums also allow the team to not only come together as a collective, but to enhance their professional skills by presenting technical and industry-based matters at these sessions.
Lastly, consider assigning a Technical & Standards Director and member/s of the team to lead and manage the training schedule. This leadership should also include updating and maintaining systems, processes, and methodology, as this is critical to the quality of the work being produced.
“More hands make light work” so empower your team by having them involved and invested every step of the way.
We are only limited by the barriers which we create. As a profession we are not alone in dealing with the challenges of ongoing training, staff development, changes in legislation, and an overall increased focus on audit quality. We only know what we know, and if we limit the sharing of knowledge, resources, and experiences internally, we are missing out on incredible opportunities to synergise and work closely with others across the profession.
- reaching out to those SME’s and sole practitioners within your region to share and gain access to skills and experience outside your practice;
- Not only attend, but present at industry events to share your experiences, expand your network, and provide/gain further support; and
- Join your local CAANZ or CPA Committee’s so you can provide feedback to the regulatory bodies and support to those operating within your region.
At National Audits Group, we understand firsthand the challenges SME’s and sole practitioners face when it comes to operating in a high-pressure and deadline driven environment, whilst also ensuring there is a continual investment in the development of our people, systems, and processes.
We strive in synergising with other practitioners, whether local or otherwise, to reduce the legislative burdens caused by change, and to upskill our teams based on shared learnings.
If you or your practice is interested in working closely with National Audits Group or would like assistance or guidance in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us directly on 1300 734 707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danielle Nye | Director, National Audits Group
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