Who´s Hot and Who´s Not? - The most desirable characteristics and profile in the audit profession
Background: As soon-to-be auditors many questions appear with regard to the profession and what is required of us who plan to practice it. At the same time as it is apparent that among students, being an auditor is coming into vogue, the negative focus on auditors is greater than perhaps ever before and this places us before a substantial challenge. How does one live up to existing expectations and what is needed to achieve professionalism in view of harsher business environments? An auditor today needs the ability to develop successful relations with clients as well as the ability to stay updated with respect to the most recent rules and regulations, this in order to appear knowledgeable and trustworthy. Hence, the modern auditor is not only an assiduous monitor of business documents and a number-cruncher, but also an adviser who works in close contact with people. As a result of this development it is reasonable to assume that now there exist other demands on the auditor’s competence and personal qualities. Research Issue: Considering these new demands, there exists a definite incentive to study what the situation looks like today, focusing on what characteristics auditors possess, what characteristics they should possess, and what attributes related to the profile are more desirable. This leads us to our two research questions: “What characteristics should an auditor possess?” and “What auditor profile is desirable?” Methodology: The research is based on primary data collected through two surveys carried out among 55 CPAs and 42 audit clients in Sweden. Results and Conclusions: Our results show that although some characteristics are considered important by both auditors and clients (such as analytical skills and problem solving skills), the auditors have emphasized the importance of soft competencies (such as communicational skills) while clients have focused more on hard competencies (such as the ability to update professional skills). Both auditors and clients were largely indifferent to the auditor profile. We discovered that neither age nor appearance were considered to have a significant influence on trust building or perceived professionalism. Gender was in this context considered least significant, whilst title was considered most significant.
Göteborg University. School of Business, Economics and Law