It’s Bob’s first Auditors Anonymous
meeting and, unfortunately, his is a typical story. Sure, he started out doing a
few audits just for the fun of it — performing a quick review, asking a few
questions. Maybe he prepared a few
statements just for kicks, ignoring the
next morning’s writer’s cramp. But soon
it was an obsession — a need for that
adrenaline rush of being in control, but
not really accountable.
And there are thousands just like Bob:
People who thought they were auditing
for controls, but finally realized it was the
audit that controlled them.
For example, Phyllis started out volunteering at her children’s school by helping prepare a budget, then realized she
was spending 20 hours a day auditing
every expense — and her kids had left for
college 10 years ago. And Jeff agreed to
look over the meeting minutes for his
homeowners association’s meetings, and
eventually found himself hung in effigy
at the local park.
You could be one of the many people
who, on the outside, appear to be leading normal lives of quiet acceptance, but
on the inside live with the lust to question
every detail of every transaction. It could
be time to start asking yourself, “Am I
The people around you can provide
hints that there is a problem you don’t
recognize even if they are providing
excuses for your behavior. Your friends
may say things like, “Oh, we always do
a few audits, for old times’ sake.” Your
neighbors may say, “I’ve seen him do a
few audits, but we all have our vices.”
And your co-workers might add, “Sure,
he does an audit now and then, but it’s
part of his job. Hey, everyone has to do
an audit to get ahead. Anyone who
doesn’t do one isn’t considered part of
the gang.” These friends may only be
facilitators, helping you rationalize the
problem you can’t quite see.
There are no easy answers. You may
be the last one to realize you’re an auditor. But take the following test; it may
help you decide.
‡Do you ever wake up in the morning
and feel you can’t get up without performing an audit?
‡Have you ever decided to stop doing
audits for a week or two, but found
yourself desk-deep in workpapers
after only a couple of days?
‡Do you envy people who can audit
without getting into trouble?
‡Do you miss Y2K
‡Has your auditing caused you trouble
‡Do you hide audits around the house?
‡Do you tell yourself you can stop
auditing any time you want, you just
don’t want to yet?
‡Have you missed any holidays or
vacations because of auditing?
‡Have you ever felt that your life
would be better if you did not audit?
‡Do you find risk assessments lying
around the office, but don’t remember completing them?
‡Do you wish people would mind their
own business when it comes to your
‡Do you know the full names of every
audit committee member, but struggle to remember your spouse’s?
If you answered “yes” to four or more of
these questions, you are probably an auditor. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You
probably know other auditors and aren’t
even aware of it. They have learned to control themselves. You can, too.
If you think you are an auditor, it is in
everyone’s best interest for you to get help
now. Make the right choice, and you can
once again become a productive member of society. Otherwise, you may find
yourself on a street corner holding a sign
that says, “Will audit for food.”
To comment on this article, e-mail the author at
FEBRUARY 2004 INTERNAL AUDITOR