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    For Once, a Burned Out Auditor Wrote an Honest Answer to a Stupid Question

    By | November 28, 2016

    A large part of any accountant's job is to write boring answers to boring questions. Most people meet an accountant and think, "Oh, you're good with numbers," and while that's a safe assumption, what really lurks underneath is a masterful chronicler of complex rules in the most banal language possible.

    For those accountants who haven't completely abandoned their right brains, writing memos on matters such as internal control procedures or tax law interpretations is an especially painful exercise. For others, the desire to answer dull questions with unfiltered responses burns deep. I know this because I experienced it personally, but also because we've received excellent examples of it.

    Here's one from a "burned out" Big 4 auditor who had to "document that a company’s management somehow has appropriately determined that accounting information/data is reliable and complete":

    For those not football literate or recently briefed on Tony Romo, refer to this.

    Although it might be unwise to submit this to a superior for review, we understand the need to get these things out of your system now and then.

    I imagine there's a vast treasure of snarky accountant responses to questions just like these out there. If you're a regular creator of them and think you can top this, we'd love to read your stuff.

    • Big4Veteran

      I remember a long time ago I wrote a snarky response in my audit documentation, fully planning to re-write it before my senior did her review. I think the question was whether internal audit was deemed competent and objective. I documented “No, based on our review of IA’s workpapers and interactions with their personnel”, or something to that effect. Of course, the correct answer to this question was “Based on our review of IA’s workpapers and assessment of their qualifications, we deem IA to be highly competent and objective and will therefore place reliance on their work.”

      Of course, it slipped my mind to make this correction. Long story short, the senior called me over on the day that we were issuing the audit report to question me about my snarky (i.e. accurate) documentation.

      • The Horniest Partner

        Bad boy, your original response would have caused the senior to do more work. Keep to the canned responses.

    • The Horniest Partner

      Like I have said before, this audit profession is a nice racket. 99% of the time 98% or the audit work we do will never see the light of day after the report is issued with PCAOB, peer review and other regulators taken out of the equation. I say go ahead, make some snarky comments here and there. Makes the job more interesting.

      • Adam Hill

        Had another staff that knew he was out of there after the particular job. Instead of writing PFI (pass further investigation) after every conclusion, he switched to FI (fuck it).

        He is probably a millionaire by now.

    • billbrasskey

      I had an audit procedure that asked me to “Define an unexpected balance and scan the detailed listing for unexpected balances”.

      My response was “An expected balance is any balance associated with an asset class that an auditor would not expect to be held in the PPE accounts of a mining company. Examples may include; however, are not limited to items such as; diamond-encrusted speed boats, alpaca farms, and booby tassels.”

      It passed review.

    • McValue Meal Audit

      haha fantastic!

    • OldRetiredAccountant

      First, you have to understand that I was an auditor a LONG time ago, before some of you were born. Our workpapers were literally made out of paper, which were mostly handwritten, put into a binder, and then reviewed by the senior, manager, and sometimes partner, who had to initial the workpapers to signify that they had reviewed them and were ok with them. Well, we had a manager who had a bad habit of just initialing workpapers without really reviewing them. So one day late in the audit, the senior took a workpaper and stapled a soft tortilla shell to it and put it into the binder. Sure enough the manager thumbed through and signed off on the workpaper without even looking at it.

      • The Horniest Partner

        I remember those days. I also remember some young rebel using Excel to prepare a wp rather than use a pencil and green columnar paper.

      • Rtruth12

        Sounds like KPMG circa 2009 (when I left)

      • Jess

        Bless your soul.

    • Disconnect From

      One time there was a question in the audit procedures guides which asked if there were any conflicts of interest that have arisen between the client and the firm since the prior year engagement. It just so happened that the client had only paid 25% of the prior year engagement Billings. I wrote it up as such:


    • In truth it is a poorly phrased question. It should have read something like “what system controls ensure…”. This said, we’ve all been there, idiot review points from Supervisors who should read the working papers in the first instance and because of their seniority and experience understand the systems under review.