Why combine auditing and consulting? Both are aimed at the same interlocutors, medium and large companies that have the obligation to “show their financial credentials” and interest in permanently having experts in various fields such as strategy, management … But the companies of audit and consulting should not be confused or combined. . Their fundamental missions and their respective actions are distinct. As evidence: if some audit firms do consulting (in some areas only), pure consulting firms never do audits.
Audit: the business figure in the fire
From the English “account verification”, the audit is interested in the financial performance of the company. Therefore, the audit concerns all the professions of figures (accountable, chartered accountant, auditor, etc.) and financial (financial director, DAF) applied to the company. There are a multitude of financial audit firms, the most well-known of which are those named Four big ones, namely: EY, KMPG, Deloitte, PwC. We can add the company Mazars in France.
These companies have the largest CAC 40 companies, large SMEs and ETI as clients. They check the accuracy and compliance of a company’s accounts : the accounting and financial management of a large company must in particular comply with an international standard called IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). The audit firm must be imperative independent company. It is a legal obligation without which the impartiality of the auditors could be challenged! The legal audit of the accounts of a company can be defined as the independent control of the financial situation of the company at a given moment, to constitute an objective and safe basis for the decision of investors. In effect, audit firms act as trusted third parties for potential investors. If the accounts are not “honest”, the investments stop; matter of caution.
The audit thus allows to verify the sincerity of the accounts. But then, what is the difference with accounting? We risk an analogy with public transport: the accountant is the bus driver (the passengers are the employees); the auditor is in charge of the technical control. If the audit firm identifies errors, the company’s management controls and accountants must respond to the points raised by the auditors (name of the audit firm’s consultants). If the answers thus provided to the auditors are non-existent or insufficient, the latter cannot validate the accounts of the company. It is important to understand that the audit firm is not there to sanction the company, that is not their role. Its function is to ensure the regularity of accounts. Some audit firms have gradually expanded their offering to offer their clients consulting solutions that go beyond mere financial expertise. In this case, the firm abandons its specific audit mission to enter that of the board. And when the advice concerns support in financial matters (tax optimization, asset management, external growth, mergers and acquisitions, etc.), audit firms are supported by commercial law firms.
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Consulting: multifaceted expertise
Unlike the audit, the consultation is not a legal obligation. The consultant analyzes, diagnoses and then recommends actions aimed at improving one aspect or another of the company’s operation. This can concern a large number of domains: organization, management, human resources, marketing, strategy, digital transformation, engineering… There are many consulting firms. The most famous: BCG, McKinsey, Cap Gemini, Accenture… Each one has its specialties. In contrast, consulting firms do not intervene in finance.
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