I guess this happens with all professionals, they cannot switch off their profession. Perhaps chefs can never relax and enjoy a meal because they can see improvements, musicians never really enjoy music as they can see how it could be done better. I think auditors have it really rough as they are constantly in audit mode. Combine this with my obsessive and tidy nature – I like things to be the best they can be – and I struggle to relax.

How many times have you sat in a coffee shop and thought – that cashing up is not very secure, that H&S risk is high, that customer and marketing experience is not good? As I get older and get wider and greater audit experience my standards and expectations increase.

This has two major consequences for my life. First I need to have, use and experience, things that are top quality. That does not mean expensive, but good. So I use Apple computers – Windows ones seem untidy and not focused on the user. I drive a reasonable quality car – rattles and a poor driving experience frustrate me. I buy only one type of cat litter for my cats – it is the only one that actually, genuinely, clumps – it’s not even the most expensive – I go to a specific shop that sells that one type. Often I find that fewer, better is a helpful mantra. Far better to wait for a better version of something than live with something suboptimal.

I hope I carry this through into my professional life. I try to get the right answer. This sometimes means a high level review, sometimes a thorough in-depth review. I think the really important thing is to establish a similar zeal and desire in your audit clients. I hope I have been uncompromising on standards with my clients, whilst at the same time supportive and understanding to help them get there. I can live with suboptimal if the intention was to be the best, but I do find it challenging where effort does not appear to have been made.

Perhaps auditors should have a neat and tidy mind, underpinned by a real push and desire to accept only the best. What character traits do you have? How do they fit with being an auditor?

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