As a CAE I get to investigate actual and potential cases of fraud. Mostly small case theft (yes people really do risk all for that), but also nasty physical thefts, financial wheeling and dealing and more imaginative scams. Now whenever I hear of an incident I do not naturally assume that the events are a mistake, or that an error has been made, or that the people are victims of circumstance or society, I assume the worst.

Is this healthy audit skepticism or is it cynicism? Have I become so used to forming an opinion (always based on evidence) that I have become judgemental? Perhaps. I was once told that I was too risk-based. By that they meant that I saw all things through a lens of risk. It is true that when I go into a restaurant or shop I see risk and risk management, profitability, and business models. Does this mean I cannot see things in a ‘real way’. Perhaps it is in the same way that a chef cannot enjoy a meal without seeing the detail of how it was produced and eat it at ‘face value’ or a musician enjoy  a performance even if it is not perfect.

I am not sure that I can switch off the auditor in me because it is a way of thinking. I am not going to try. Skepticism is a core part of objectivity and independence, both values I signed up to in becoming a professional auditor.

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