- For Natasha Serrano, Junior Accountant at PwC, auditing has several exciting perks, such as opportunities to travel, flexibility and regularly working with different people.
- Serrano was originally interested in taxation, but during a summer internship, was told her energetic personality would be better suited to auditing.
- Looking to her future in the accounting space, she doesn’t believe AI will replace human auditors because it is a judgement-based line of work.
Natasha Serrano is part of the future of auditing, and proud to be. As a Graduate Consultant in the private clients division at PwC, she can’t imagine working in any other field. Between full-time work and completing her first module of the CA Program, Serrano is keenly focused on developing her skills in auditing.
Serrano has come a long way from almost failing her first year of university and being rejected for a cadetship at Ernst & Young. This bump in the road to her success ultimately lead her to focus on her studies and pick up more extracurricular activities in her second year. All of her hard work paid off when she graduated with a distinction average in 2017.
During her time at university, Serrano was the President and Co-founder of the University of Wollongong Accounting Society, a CA ANZ student representative, and volunteer at William Carey Christian School as a Mock Trial Coach and the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) as an Indigenous Youth Mentor.
How auditing became Natasha’s passion
After landing the opportunity to undertake a summer internship at PwC, she was able to select her top two preferences of accounting divisions within the company. She ultimately got her first preference - private clients. Upon starting her internship, she discovered there are two areas within the private clients division - audit and tax. She was sorted into audit but felt more interested in tax. She was told that based on her interview her personality was “too energetic” for tax.
“A lot of an auditor’s work actually relies on your clients’ support and collaboration. So, if you can build a good rapport with them right from the beginning, it just makes your job a whole lot easier,” she says.
Strong communication and interpersonal skills are some of the most important traits for an auditor to possess, and Serrano considers communication to be her strong suit: “In auditing, you definitely need to be able to talk to people with ease, which I think I'm pretty good at”.
“Specialising in auditing wasn’t something I planned on, but I ended up really liking it. I don't want to move anywhere else,” she says.
Why no day is the same
You may have heard that in auditing “no two days are the same”. Serrano explains that auditors in private clients spend the majority of their time working from their clients’ offices - and these clients are constantly changing: “You might only work with a client for one, two or three weeks, before moving straight onto the next.”
A good portion of her role involves sourcing important documents from the client, such as a payroll reports or invoices, and chasing them up when required. She says this is a lot easier for auditors when they get along with their client, which is why it is important to establish a good working relationship with them.
Serrano says that the auditing specialisation provides her with a variety of work, which helps to keep things interesting: “When I compare my job to my friends' jobs, I get to work with way more fun people and have more freedom around where, when and how I work. Because I’m always working off-site, externally, I can work quite flexibly – even working from home or on the train. It’s nice and easy.”
“I also get to travel, which is awesome. Next week, I'm actually going to Queensland for a client, and then the week after that I'm going to Canberra,” she says.
Serrano believes that auditors make a difference by creating efficiencies for their clients: “We can get an in-depth look at what's happening within a company to provide insights on things they could be doing better or things that may have gone wrong, or if there are any variances and why that might be.”
The future of auditing
According to Forbes, artificial intelligence (AI) could change the auditing profession through the uptake of natural language processing (NLP) and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies by firms as they can complete weeks of a human auditor’s work in just hours.
Serrano however, does not believe auditing will ever be fully automated because a lot of the work requires the auditor to make judgements and provide advice specific to the client’s situation: “Most clients want to talk to someone who can find meaning in the numbers, rather than just calculating them.”
She says there are also external factors that the auditor sometimes needs to take into account in the way they approach their client, such as family issues: “The things you need to know about the client and consider are quite emotional, and you can’t get that personal touch from software.”
Serrano is currently working towards becoming a Chartered Accountant – she’s studying the first module this semester – and can clearly see her own future in auditing. She is actively working towards her ultimate goal of being an auditor partner.
“I could definitely see myself doing auditing forever. It’s definitely in the cards for me,” she says.
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