This year has presented us with many unexpected challenges – as people and as auditors. With the onset of Covid-19, auditors and accountants have continued their commitment to delivering high-quality financial information and providing stability to our capital markets.
To recognise this, the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) launched Audit in Action (AiA), a sustained and ongoing campaign focused on the multi-dimensional role of auditors. This year, as part of the campaign, BDO firms across the globe are participating in AiA by highlighting the important role auditors have played during the Covid-19 pandemic and how our auditors are meeting the pandemic challenge head-on. At BDO Ireland, we interviewed a number of our colleagues from our audit department and got an insight into their stories during these challenging times.
How were you inspired by your colleagues during these challenging times?
I was inspired by my team adapting as a group to trial and error different approaches to collaborate, finding the most efficient ways to work together. I was also inspired by the positive attitude everyone brings to work and being there to assist when someone isn’t having their best day. Understanding we all have ups and downs is especially appreciated during this uncertain time.
-Megan McLaren, Audit Assistant Manager
Maintaining a cohesive team culture and connection kept us inspired. We held several virtual team meetings every week to brief each other on our work and to see how everyone was getting on in general. My team was very inclusive and I felt empowered and recognised for my work. I also felt supported by my team’s encouragement of open communication.
-Xinyi Liu, Audit Assistant Manager
I have taken inspiration from the work ethic and dedication shown by colleagues with small families during the current pandemic e.g. with both parents working from home without the availability of childcare facilities for long periods in some cases. These members worked tirelessly during out of hours, working early mornings / evenings adapting to the current situation to ensure that reporting deadlines were achieved and we delivered for our clients.
- Chris Fogarty, Audit Manager
I am really inspired by the regular communication and inclusive approach followed in my team all this while we are working from home. I have been empowered by my colleagues to make decisions and take actions which increased my creativity and encouraged overall innovation during this time.
- Mansi Chhabra, Audit Assistant Manager
How did your team support the community during COVID-19?
Our team took part in the BDO Iron Man Challenge to raise funds for CMRF Crumlin, we shared our stories/achievements on a weekly basis. As part of the Iron Man challenge we all tuned in to a zoom demonstration from The Happy Pear, who provide great tips and advice in regard to our nutrition. On our Friday ‘Coffee morning’ zoom calls we chatted about what everyone was doing locally and the amenities/different things the local community was doing. We also concentrated on the BDO community – looking out for each other, learning together, sharing all sorts of stories and helping one another.
-Ronan Harbourne, Audit Director
The firm organised an Ironman challenge which was taken up by almost every member in our team. There was a great buzz and sense of competition within our team which allowed us to focus on something outside of work. In addition to promoting a positive mental health environment while we all continue to work from home, it also raised funds for CMRF Crumlin. So it really was a win-win for all involved!
-Grainne McGuire, Audit Manager
Because technology played a key role in BDO’s ability to overcome new challenges, what are some examples of ways technology has helped our teams navigate these unprecedented times?
The shift to MS Teams shortly before the pandemic has been a massive advantage to audit teams. Having a dedicated MS teams group for each client allows for efficient document sharing to all members of our team and facilitated the opportunity to still interact face-to-face with clients and colleagues despite working from home. Regular contact with clients has allowed for timely interactions, resulting in as little disruption as possible whilst also maintaining the personal touch that is so important for BDO. This interaction has also been key for team development and has allowed us to integrate the junior members of staff and train them as if we were all on site together - it is vitally important that nobody feels isolated despite not being able to go into the office. There has also been a greater emphasis on Cloud software and VPN access to allow for all members of the audit engagement to simultaneously share the same information, allowing the work to flow efficiently.
-Carl Thorne, Audit Senior
I would say it has helped a lot with the audit close process for signing the financial statements and audit reports through the use of circIT. It usually involves a lot of back and forth through emails and printing when getting these signed but by using circIT, it has allowed this to be so much quicker and all being signed digitally. The use of MS Teams and Zoom has allowed us to still have video calls and catch ups with our clients in replacement of not physically being on site as well as internal group/team meetings which are probably happening more often now than before as due to audit staff mainly being out on client site its very rare that the whole team would be in the office at once to attend these catch ups as regularly as we are now.
-Nicole Dunne, Audit Senior
I was in Malaysia back in March when the lockdown happened and I couldn’t travel back to Ireland, lucky due to the power of technology I could continue working from there until I was allowed to fly back. Regardless of the 8 hour time difference, I was able to communicate and continue working seamlessly with my team from the other side of the world. MS Teams is very helpful more than ever for enabling us to have virtual meetings, communicate with clients and also little chats with our colleagues that we usually have in the office during coffee breaks. We also use CircIt to get the documents signed electronically. So no more printing needed which will save a lot of trees! BDO-One-Drive and BDO-DMS the cloud storage also came very handy as we were able to access it from everywhere and it’s hassle free!
-Nurul Mokhtar, Audit Senior
A special thank you to our colleagues for taking the time to share their experiences. Their insights have shown the resilience and adaptability of the audit profession amid uncertainty. We are incredibly proud of the role they have played in serving as a key link in the financial reporting and communication ecosystem.