Auditing Busy Season: When is it? (What is it?) Explained

Auditing busy season is infamous with audit. It gets its name because frankly, it’s the busiest time of the year will touch on. We’ll go over the audit busy season, some other busy times of the year and what exactly to look out for in busy season.

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When is Auditing Busy Season?

Busy season for auditors is typically mid-February to the end of April. This is driven typically by the financial year ends of companies. It is pretty standard that that’s companies have December 31 year-end financials. Some regulatory reporting requirements may state that the financial statements need to be prepared by three, four or six months after year-end.

Don’t expect to get time off for a ski trip or vacation during busy season. Generally, employers block off busy season and don’t let accountants take time off. It’s no doubt the worst time of the year.

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What is Audit Busy Season?

So now that we know when audit busy season is, what exactly takes place? Audit busy season is the time of year when overtime and extra hours are worked to finish up audits for issuance.

While a bunch of audits race to meet similar deadlines, it puts audit, staff, managers, and partners under tight pressure. Imagine being on two or three audits all issued around the end of April. It is hectic!

On top of that if you are at a small firm, then they may have you helping on taxes as well. Smaller firms tend to use auditors in both a tax and audit role. At the end of the day, firms want to see that their employees are billable. 

Many employers will even schedule employees for a higher targeted number of hours in busy season, in their scheduling program. You might be used to seeing 37.5 or 40-hour weeks. During busy season, this can be anywhere from 50 to 65 hours at a lot of firms. It’s well known that some big 4 firms even schedule much higher than this. You can hear testimony after testimony of auditors who have put in 100-hour weeks in busy over on Reddit. We know what you’re thinking though, “ that’s crazy and it is time to quit if that happens.”

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What Happens in the Fall in Audit?

 Once you get out of audit busy season, the hours part isn’t as bad. Mind you there is no more free food, Work, dinners, or in-office massages. Typically in the fall auditors work on the planning portion of engagements. It is the time to get ahead on engagements and prepare for year-end. With no deadlines looming, these hours are usually much better. There is an exception though.

 It is possible you get stuck on an audit that issues in Q3 or Q4. One industry that often has Q3 or Q4 audits is banks. As a staff, you don’t want to be in a position where you are working a busy season in Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4. This can happen if the firm is understaffed, or there are more clients than a firm can handle.

There is even the case that if you are an exceptional worker, you may get put on more clients. This only leads to overwork. So while the fall is generally better for auditors, it is not always a given.

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Busy Season: It is Predictable

At least with the busy season you know it’s coming. You basically signed up for it if you get into auditing. Many accountants speak in terms of busy seasons. 

“I’ve been at this firm for two busy seasons.”

“That partner has over 15 busy seasons under his belt.”

Sometimes it is just a way to count how many years you have worked Saturdays. To other accountants, it is like a badge of honor. With busy season coming up, you’ll hear the office energy pick up a bit. “Oh, are you ready for busy season?” accountants will each other in the break room.

Prepare mentally for the busy season and you’ll be just fine. You might not want to do too many of them though, although some accountants have no issue with the audit, busy the season.

How to Deal With Audit Busy Season

By knowing you going into a busy season, you can mentally prepare ahead of time. There are plenty tips for surviving an audit busy season, but often the best one is to take time for yourself. 

Remember that there’s always gonna be more work tomorrow. You’ll have to rely on teammates to get things done and audits issued. You can’t do it all yourself. 

An audit busy season comes with stress, but if you can look after yourself, exercise, and eat well then you’ll be better prepared to deal with the busy season of audit. On average, you are looking at 3-4 months of the year and for some roles, it can be up to 6 months.

Auditing Busy Season: Final Thoughts

Audit busy season doesn’t last forever. While it can be mentally taxing and tiring,  you know what you are getting into by taking a job in audit. By now you should have a good mental picture of what a year looks like in audit. It will be harder on the front end, but it should be easier at the back end of the year. Don’t get stuck working in a year-round busy season and you’ll be able to survive audit.

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