With the rising changes on compliance and technology, auditing is one of the most important functions in any organization. However, running an audit firm requires more than just knowledge and skills, you also need to have a clear vision for your business. The following checklist will help you build a successful audit firm:
Accelerate employee learning
Employee training is an essential ingredient in improving performance. Whereas you are required to recruit qualified employees for regulated services, there is a contrast in learning and knowledge developed in school and in work life. To ensure that your staff are well trained, you should:
- Train them to be flexible and adaptable. This will help them to handle any situation in the audit process. They should be able to adjust their working style as needed, depending on what type of client they’re dealing with and how things are going in general.
- Train them to be empathetic. Empathy can make all the difference when it comes to creating a positive experience for clients during audits, so it’s crucial for employees who interact directly with clients to have this skill set prioritized.
- Teach them how to work under pressure when necessary, or even better yet, how not to let stress affect their performance negatively. When people feel stressed out by an audit or a big presentation due the soonest week, they not only look more exhausted but also lose focus and confidence because they’re worried about everything else going wrong.
It’s essential to keep up with the latest technologies and developments. It’s also vital for your employees to learn new skills and hone their existing ones to continue to work efficiently.
There are several ways you can encourage learning at your firm:
- Set aside time each week for personal development. This is called “mentoring time” in some industries
- Run training sessions regularly on emerging topics for example: changes in standards, data analytics, cybersecurity etc.
- Encourage employees to go back to school if they want a new qualification or additional study
Deliver on quality assurance
Through quality prioritization, your firm will be to build a huge amount of trust and loyalty across your client base. Quality assurance is a continuous process, not a one-time event. It involves ensuring that the quality of your audit work and the audit team consistently meet or exceed applicable standards. It’s not limited to just the audit but also includes all aspects of the firm’s culture and approach to providing services to clients.
In addition, if there are any changes in standards and rules affecting what must be included in an audit report, such as a new emphasis on disclosure, then these changes need to be communicated among staff members. The firm administrator must ensure that staff receive training on an ongoing basis and as required by the marketplace demands. You should consider adopting appropriate technology to support achievement of quality assurance in your audits.
Exceptional customer services
Customer service is more than just answering the phone and taking messages. It’s about offering an excellent experience for your clients. It’s about making them feel valued and essential, so they’ll keep coming back again and again. Give clients more than they deserve, even if it is just a small gesture of appreciation. They will never forget how much you appreciated their business, which will go a long way toward building loyalty with them.
You have an obligation to give your clients the best possible experience, including paying attention to every step in the process of working together, right down to communication with other team members on your end. The easiest way to market your firm is to provide exceptional services, because a delighted client is a sales person on steroids; they will pass word of mouth referrals at no cost to you.
Play the long game/maintain integrity
Trust is hard to come and easy to lose. Rapid changes in the marketplace have led to more a discerning clientele that is more unforgiving on unethical business conduct. Firms must therefore put plenty of effort and resources into proving they conduct business in a morally sound way. Integrity in business can be a competitive advantage.
Integrity in business boils down to making uncompromised decisions guided by your internal compass. Your internal compass for the firm are the values that you hold dear. Integrity also relates to the actions of your firm takes as a whole. Doing the right thing in the face of so many industry and marketplace challenge is sometimes feels like a shooting your own feet. However, if you and your employees display moral conduct in dealing with clients, third parties, and internally with each other, your firm is likely to perform better in the long run than if the opposite were the case.
Provide value for money.
When you’re running an audit firm, it’s essential to ensure that your clients receive value for money. Audit firms charge for their services and the time spent working on a project. You should therefore be able to explain how you will deliver value to your clients.
To do this, you first need to understand their needs and where they want their business to go. It’s also crucial that you understand the client’s business model as well as their financial position and growth strategy so that you can identify any potential risks in advance of starting any work together.
Once all these things have been established, then it’ll be easier for both parties involved in working together on a project:
- Understand what financial goals your client has set themselves. This helps determine whether or not there are any areas within a company that might need addressing due to non-compliance with specific regulations/standards; but also allows an opportunity for improvement where possible through constructive criticism given by an external party such as yourself if necessary.
- Determine whether or not risk appetite is appropriate, i.e., how much risk do people want/need? After understanding which industries they operate within.
You can offer value-added services to your clients. They may not realize they need the services you are offering, but once they try them, they will be thankful for them. You should provide more than what the client expects and even more than what they need or want.
Build a strong relationship with your clients.
You can only provide value for money by building long-term relationships with your clients. You need to understand their needs, provide relevant solutions, and be honest and transparent when it comes to the challenges they face while doing business in this industry. If you want to build trust, then be available and accessible at all times; keep them updated on how things are progressing; be proactive when handling issues; respond immediately when problems arise; ensure that everything works smoothly before moving on to something else; communicate clearly about costs; and finally, don’t try selling too many services or products unnecessarily. Stick with what you know best!
It’s not enough to just understand the different types of clients you serve; you must also be able to anticipate what they’ll need from your services in the future. You should understand their businesses, industries, competitors and customers, employees, suppliers, regulators, and so on.
This knowledge will help you provide relevant solutions for each sector of business and provide those solutions when they are most needed by your clientele. The more information you have about these subjects, the better equipped you’ll be to deliver value-added service that appeals directly to what matters most for each type of organization in its own industry niche or vertical market segmentation schemes.
Keep a healthy work-life balance.
Keeping a healthy work-life balance is one of the most important things you can do in order to be successful in business, but it’s also something that is entirely up to you. Mental hygiene is gaining prominence and for the right reasons; the traditional work place is too toxic. There are many different ways to define what constitutes a proper balance, and some people have different ideas than others. In fact, there are some who think that having no life outside of work is an ideal existence, but this is not likely to result in longevity and good decision-making skills down the road.
Whether your ideal balance involves working every waking hour until all your clients are taken care of, finding that sweet spot between work and free time can make all the difference when it comes to keeping yourself motivated and energized on a daily basis. It’s important for everyone, to take time each week away from their desks so they don’t burn out or get sick due to the work environment.
Be active on social media.
Use social media to connect with your potential clients and employees, as well as the community in which you live and work. Social media can also help you connect with other people in the industry who may be able to refer business your way or share tips for improving how your firm operates. It can also allow you to follow what competitors are doing so that you know if they’re making any changes that could affect yours, such as switching technology platforms or updating your pricing structure.
The audit industry is changing rapidly, but the fundamentals of running a successful audit firm remain the same. If you want your business to thrive over the long term, you need to focus on providing high-quality services that align with your client’s needs.