My Early Days in Accountancy: The World of Audit
July 02, 2024

My accountancy career started in the exhilarating (OK it wasn’t) world of audit which basically revolves around checking other companies’ accounts and looking for the errors, non-intentional or otherwise that organizations may be making in their public pronouncements of their financial results. Of course, not many did, at least not in the ones that I worked on, but that didn’t stop us from trawling through endless pieces of paper, sales invoices, purchase invoices, bank statements, legal agreements, and the like looking for those errors thereby saving the world from the cataclysmic horrors and havoc that a minor misstatement in the closing stock figures of a Sheffield department store would unleash. 

The Age of Paper: Lever Arch Files and Endless Documents 

But it was all based around paper often contained within the good old lever arched file. Back then we dreamed of the utopia of a paperless office but thought it impossible – after all, companies had to keep financial records for 7 years and we would always need those bits of paper to refer back to in order to prove to auditors (or even worse the VAT inspectors at HMRC who were viewed rather like Harry Potter viewed Dementors) that the hotel cost in Bognor Regis for the MD was indeed wholly and exclusively for business purposes and the VAT was correctly calculated. 

A Paperless Utopia: The Digital Transformation 

And yet now that utopia is here. I was looking around our office the other day and it struck me that we have no paper at all in it. None. Nada. Zilch. We have a photocopier and printer that I cannot remember the last time it was ever used. No parts of the Amazon rainforest were cut down in the making of our finance function and seeing a lever arched file now makes me smile wistfully at times gone by. The good – or in this case not so good – old days. 

The Digital Revolution in Finance 

How have we done this? Easy – through digitization and the development of easily accessible software to ensure that the processing of mundane accounting transactions can be conducted electronically. No more searching around for the purchase invoice that went to Alan in IT six weeks ago, but it hasn’t come back yet because – well we know what Alan is like, don’t we? He’s probably put it in the drawer along with all the other warranties, paper clips, bits of chewing gum (some even unused), staples, coins from at least 5 different currencies, cup a soups, IT for Dummies books, and endless user manuals. Until he finally remembers it one day and dutifully returns the invoice to finance with his X mark indicating that yes indeed the 10 floppy disks he ordered were received thank you very much and you can go ahead and pay the supplier who has been mercilessly haranguing poor Connor on the Accounts Payable team wondering when he is going to get paid…… 

Embracing the Paperless Future 

Yep – I don’t miss that time. Not at all. I’m done with paper, done with lever arched files, done with wondering what that strange yellow stain on that invoice is from and I’m certainly done with Alan from IT. 

The Case for Digital Finance Solutions 

The technology available now makes finance work far more effectively than it ever did and I for one get down on my hands and knees every day giving thanks for that. If you’re one of those not using it then I’d strongly urge you to reconsider. You won’t miss the paper – honest.