How to transfer your Audit skills to Accounting Advisory

Canadian secondee, Alan Garner, sheds light on what Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory Services really do and how easily Audit skills can transfer to the team.  

Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory Services - it’s a mouthful that’s commonly referred to as CMAAS within our firm’s community. The team has a reputation for being ‘highly technical’, however, what you may not know is that most of the people here got their start in Audit. In fact, the majority of the team joined with no deep technical knowledge - after all, that’s what our leaders and development opportunities are here to provide you with!

Working alongside our Audit, Tax and Deals teams, CMAAS work collaboratively to help clients better understand the impact of different accounting and structuring options on capital raising and to create more holistic solutions for their problems, which arise from complex business structures, transactions, and accounting and regulatory change.

But, what does this actually look like day-to-day? Ask Senior Manager Alan Garner and he’ll start by dispelling any misconception that the team functions primarily as Audit’s technical support, before revealing the extensive variety of projects he’s had the opportunity to work across.

“Most people in Audit think Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory Services (CMAAS) spend most of their time responding to technical queries from Audit teams and performing financial statement reviews. While this is a critical role that our group plays, it is only the tip of the iceberg!”

“Since joining the Melbourne office 9 months ago, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects including several financial due diligence projects – some of which involve acquirees in the ASX 100, helping clients complete US debt offerings, several AASB 15, 16 and 9 assessments for various C1 and C2 clients, and writing a number of accounting advices for external clients including one which involved the use of data analytics to help quantify accruals for systemic employee underpayment.”

Alan’s also experienced “a good chunk of time in the market” where he’s hosted accounting workshops with ANZ, Macquarie and various other private equity funds, and has participated in a number of proposals and live pitches to clients. While the team haven’t won them all Alan says the experiences have helped him to “develop business skills in a very tangible way”.

To fellow Auditors uncertain of the skills required to make the move to CMAAS, Alan says not to worry as “you already have them!” Having made this same transition himself, Alan holds first-hand experience of how easily Audit skills are transferred to CMAAS work.

"The most important skills to have in CMAAS are the client services skills you already use on a daily basis in Audit. It will be these skills that will enable you to help your clients, both internal and external, solve their most important and complex problems. You aren’t expected to know all the answers, just to have a passion for client services and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.”

Day-to-day work aside, for Alan it’s the “absolutely staggering and seemingly endless” international opportunities he’s gained at the firm that he’s enjoyed most. So far, this has included a move away from his home office in Calgary, Canada to join PwC’s offices in San Jose, London and now Melbourne.

“In 2011, I went on secondment to PwC US’ San Jose office for a year into their venture capital group, which services some of Silicon Valley’s largest venture capital (VC) firms. I had little to no experience with technology companies of the VC industry and had never even been to California. As a true fish out of water, this was probably one of my most challenging and rewarding experiences at the firm!”

Through his first international secondment Alan gained a “newfound appreciation” for what he could do with his career and “began to take more control” of his client portfolio. This came in the way of joining PwC UK’s BP audit proposal team, which saw him on “several round flights between Calgary and London”. Unfortunately the team lost the audit proposal later that year, but in a twist of fate an unexpected opportunity presented itself for Alan to join PwC Australia’s CMAAS team in Melbourne.

“If someone told me a year ago I would be living in Melbourne, I’d have had to ask them to point it out to me on a map! Even then I wouldn’t have believed them. That’s probably what I love most about the firm, the amount of opportunities available are staggering!”

Alan’s advice to those interested in exploring opportunities outside of the traditional path? ‘Do it!’

“If you’re ever interested in taking an opportunity on, do it! The firm will always have your back and will be there to help you celebrate your successes and learn from your failures...The more comfortable we become with change, the more likely we are to succeed when it inevitably comes.”

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