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University students and graduates looking for a career in the financial sector should be able to differentiate between two very similar roles: auditing and assurance. Auditing and assurance are demanding occupations offering lucrative salaries and promising professional development. While there's a lot of overlap and many similarities between the two departments, knowing the crucial differences can prevent a costly career mistake.
Auditors assess the quality of financial information and how well this information is conveyed throughout a department or an entire company. This assessment is conducted by observing the response to test scenarios and compiling a statistical report. Auditing is most commonly used in accounting to evaluate the quality of financial record-keeping. The auditor investigates the accessibility, clarity and accuracy of financial information.
Assurance services specialize in assessing and improving the quality of information within a company or department. This applies to financial information, customer feedback, employee feedback, almost any area where information is required to make crucial business decisions. Making decisions based on imperfect information can lead to inefficiency or serious mistakes in company policy.
Requirements for Assurance Services
Anyone looking to work in assurance services is usually required to have significant experience in a particular business sector, depending on the kind of assurance company. In addition, there are specific qualifications related to assurance that some assurance companies may require. The possible exception to these requirements are major assurance firms which offer graduate training schemes to finance, business or economic graduates.
Requirements for Auditors
To become a certified auditor, candidates are required to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, a character reference from tutors or employers and at least 24 hours auditing experience. The last requirement often comes from an internship at an accountancy firm. Once certified, the candidate is eligible for an entry level auditing position.