- Naomi Kewley CA won Auditor of the Year at the 2020 Women in Finance Awards.
- Auditors should adapt to technology and be flexible about how they work, always keeping in mind their obligations under the auditing standards.
- Kewley says young CAs should work hard, ask questions and find a good mentor to help them succeed.
By Amity Delaney
It’s been a tough year for auditors. Economic uncertainly has meant the judgements involved in auditors’ work have become much riskier and more complicated than in any other year in living history. Physical distancing constraints have meant auditors have had to find new ways to do things that previously were very simple, such as accessing clients’ sites to do stock counts. And, in the context of the auditor’s role in bringing integrity to financial statements, we’re now living in a climate where people don’t know who they can trust.
No one understands this more so than Naomi Kewley CA, managing director of Peak Super Audits in NSW and Auditor of the Year in this year’s Women in Finance Awards.
“A wise person once told me that being a good auditor is all about having two views,” Kewley tells Acuity. “First, there's the details view, where auditors spend a lot of time and assemble evidence for the audit file. Good auditors keep their antennae up when working with the detail.
“Then there's the distance view, where you step back from the whole engagement and look for anything that seems off,” she says.
Even in times of adversity, the key to being a good auditor is to keep learning, Kewley believes.
“Like everyone else, we have to adapt to technology and good auditors are flexible about how they work, always keeping in mind our obligations under the auditing standards.”
Picture: Naomi Kewley CA.
Managing super funds in a pandemic
Peak Super Audits ordinarily manage Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) remotely so in that sense 2020 has been somewhat business as usual. But that doesn’t mean assuming your staff are operating under a BAU mindset, says Kewley.
“In terms of staying well and positive, ours is a small audit practice and I am in close contact with my staff. We all look out for each other and support the industry as much as we can by being there for our colleagues and smoothing the compliance path for accountants and trustees,” she says.
While the ATO has done a good job of working with SMSF auditors to help them understand the issues around COVID-19 and ensure that regulator guidance is on point, Kewley says, it has still been a lot for the industry to wrap its head around.
“It’s been a tough year,” she says. “There have been some significant changes in the SMSF audit space as a result of new rules regarding benefit access, the question of rent relief and loan relief for related party arrangements.
“There have been developments relating to in-house assets, and now a shake up with new expectations around auditor independence,” she adds.
Mentoring key for a successful career in auditing
Kewley credits the mentoring she received early in her career in helping her job growth both as an auditor and as a woman working in finance.
“I benefited from terrific mentors as a young person starting first down the path of SMSF administration and then moving later into SMSF audit. To have someone that you respect, who you can observe and ask questions of and swap ideas with is invaluable.”
She advises young CAs to seek out mentors who are willing to share their experiences. “And be ready to give back. There will be things you can do to help them in return.”
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