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Recommendations for the busy audit season

The audit season is fast approaching. The busy season is the most frantic time for accountants and audit professionals. The sheer volume of work can create uncertainty, even among experienced professionals.

Why is Audit’s Busy Season Stressful?

The demanding nature of the busy season becomes evident as workloads soar, deadlines approach, and auditors encounter unforeseen challenges and last-minute client requests. Auditors may extend their work hours, including weekends, to ensure timely completion. Delivering precise and reliable audit opinions carries a substantial responsibility, bearing significant consequences for both auditors and clients.

The busy season is a crucial and high-pressure period where auditors must manage multiple engagements, maintaining professionalism, and providing top-tier audit services. The convergence of heightened workload, tight deadlines, and elevated client expectations can form a perfect storm of stress and fatigue. However, it is during these high-pressure moments that the genuine resilience of accountants and auditors becomes apparent, as they work diligently to ensure financial accuracy and compliance.

By implementing smart strategies and adopting the right mindset, you cannot only withstand but also thrive during this challenging period.

Thoroughly review your processes. Start by evaluating the previous tax year, re-evaluate what was effective and what wasn’t, and make necessary adjustments. Next is to assess the overall client experience by considering the following questions:

1. What is your approach to scheduling appointments?

2. How do you handle communication and document sharing?

3. Where did bottlenecks occur in the last audit season?

4. In what ways can you better cater to both your clients and your staff?

Revisit your client list. Just as you review your processes, it's equally crucial to examine your client list to proactively address potential issues. While one might hope every client is pleasant and easy to work with, the truth is that there are inevitably some challenging clients.

This is the opportune moment to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of dealing with "problem" clients. Consider either ending associations with them before they consume more of your time or informing them of new policies (if any) that could prevent issues this time. Initiating such conversations may be challenging, but parting ways with more troublesome clients frees up time to collaborate with high-value clients, leading to reduced stress — a sentiment appreciated by every accountant and auditor.

Assess your capacity. While many auditors and accountants acknowledge that working long hours for a few months each year is considered normal, it is not a healthy practice and often results in burnout. Although we are aware of this pattern, every year, we convince ourselves that we can "take on one more client," even though it doesn't truly benefit us.

Rather than overloading your team, invest time in identifying the additional staffing required. Focus on building your capacity so that you can make informed decisions about whether to hire, delegate, or outsource as needed and when feasible.

Get ready for the upcoming audit season. Begin by dividing your tasks into manageable components. Develop a comprehensive schedule outlining the tasks and their respective deadlines. Prioritize your tasks based on urgency and complexity. Organizing your workload in this manner equips you to navigate the demands of the busy season more effectively without feeling overwhelmed.

Embrace technology. The pressure for completing work will always exist, and this is where technology can play a pivotal role. Technology proves invaluable in document management as well. Certain solutions enable the consolidation of all data into a user-friendly workbook, facilitating seamless access and collaboration for everyone, whether they are in the office or working remotely. Technology enhances efficiency by automating the matching of data from various sources. This guarantees data consistency, reduces the risk of errors in financial reports, and streamlines the workload for you and your team. Smart automation can facilitate thorough checks of financial statements to ensure consistency with the prior year, proactively pinpointing anomalies that necessitate further investigation.

Promote effective communication and teamwork. Feel free to connect with your team and clients openly. Keeping everyone informed and managing expectations is crucial. Ensure that everyone is aware of the situation and feels at ease expressing any concerns. Clear communication is not only essential for efficient work but also for maintaining a positive team atmosphere. To truly excel during the busy season, focus on cultivating a supportive team environment. This involves collaborating, exchanging knowledge, and providing assistance when necessary. Regular check-ins are an excellent way to keep everyone updated, share insights, and address challenges collectively. Remember, you're a cohesive team, and there's no challenge too great when everyone works together.

Auditing is inherently challenging. No audit client is identical, and each presents unique challenges for audit professionals. The busy season intensifies these obstacles with tight deadlines and a substantial workload for auditors. Adhering to these practices might not only help you navigate the busy season but also enable you to deliver more efficiently and successfully.


Cristina Joy Dumayas- Cancela, CPA, is a Senior Partner and Head of Operations of Paguio, Dumayas and Associates, CPAs (PDAC) and a member of ACPAPP. The views and opinions in this article are hers and do not represent those of PDAC and ACPAPP.

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