To celebrate international youth day, The Accountant and International Accounting Bulletin asks professionals aged under 35 to share their thoughts on the profession: why they qualify as accountants, whether it was challenging and, now that they are in, how they see the profession and where it is going.
Alina Uritskaya Audit director Deloitte UK
I joined Deloitte as a graduate and worked in Saint Petersburg, Brussels and now London. I was recently promoted to director in our FTSE Group. I love yoga and the outdoors, do portrait and fashion photography on weekends and play piano and guitar.
In the 1990s, Russia was going through massive changes, transitioning from the state-planned economy to a free market and there was a high demand for finance professionals and simply not enough qualified staff. A degree in economics and finance looked like a safe choice opening up a lot of opportunities.
Until my last year at university, I initially discounted accountancy because of the stereotypes I had about the profession and chose financial management as my specialisation. I took an optional IFRS course and, to my surprise, realised that it was one of the most interesting courses in my five years at university. The course was taught by an audit director from one of the local firms. She had a great personality and a great approach to teaching. I enjoyed the clarity and logic of accounting, and the challenge and problem solving of complex accounting issues. So I thought joining one of the Big 4 firms and exploring the world of audit could be interesting.
I got my ACCA qualification with Deloitte Russia. Having a degree in finance helped as it covered the curriculum of most of the papers. We were given support throughout – there was facilitator-led revision and enough study leave to prepare.
There have been a lot of ups and downs over the past 11 years but I have never regretted my choice. I worked in three countries and I was lucky to serve for some of the largest and influential clients in the industry (I specialise in energy and resources). Most importantly, I have worked with the most amazing people who have supported and motivated me, and made even the long hours during busy periods enjoyable.
As I had expected, the first few years were really demanding, but the work became more interesting, challenging and rewarding as I became more experienced. I also started to see the bigger picture and appreciate the importance of what we do for public trust in the financial markets.
Audit experience is a solid foundation for any careers. It allows you to understand the businesses you work with inside / out – financial as well as commercial aspects, risk management, control and governance processes.
It is a challenging and yet a very exciting time for the profession. The world is changing faster than ever and the audit profession needs to evolve to respond to these changes.
Advanced analytics will transform the way we do the audit and will allow auditors to cover large populations, identify trends and outliers and focus on items with higher risk. Manual aspects of audit will start being automated (making a career in audit more exciting!) and more time will be spent on estimates, judgements and unusual transactions, providing greater value for stakeholders. This also means that the auditor skillset will change with emphasis on IT skills.
The expectations of the users of the financial statements are also changing and they are looking for assurance beyond the traditional ‘pass/fail’ opinion on the financial statements. Again, this means that the scope of auditors’ work will broaden to include some of the non-financial data, for example, the sustainability report, and CSR, etc.