Blog Archive

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Proud to be an auditor

by Joe Adams, Managing Partner and CEO of RSM US LLP

My audit career began as a freshman at DePaul University in Chicago when I selected accounting as my major. I chose it because my brother was an accountant. Little did I know then the profound impact that choice would have on my life and my career.

In fact, after I took my first couple of auditing classes, I was pretty sure audit wasn’t for me. While I did well, I was really more interested in the operational side of the business. So much so that I stayed on for an MBA after getting my undergraduate degree in accounting.

But as you’re building a career, you’re also building a life. When I graduated with my MBA, I had a young family to support, so I began a career as an auditor because it would provide me with good experience and a solid income. I joined RSM (which was then known as McGladrey) with the promise of transferring to consulting after I had a couple of years of experience under my belt.

What I learned in those first few years, however, is that there is no better way to learn about business than to be an auditor. In addition to learning auditing skills, I had tremendous opportunities to interact with business leaders and owners. I took every chance I had to talk to leaders and understand how they were successful. At the same time, my business acumen was growing as a result of my work on audits. I learned about financial statements, inventory, transactions and more. And I became very aware of the impact my work had on building confidence in the users of financial statements, which is the very foundation of our economy and of good business decisions. After those initial years, I decided to stay in audit because I was enjoying it and learning so much about business in general. It was a far better education than if I had immediately stepped into business operations.

I also found the CPA firm environment to be a great place to learn and grow. I am a competitive person who likes to make a difference. Beginning fairly early in my career, I started bringing ideas to my partners for things we could improve. They didn’t all get approved, but many did, and I was quickly able to stand out as a result of my proactive approach. In fact, when I made manager, one of our leaders jokingly told me, “We had to promote you so you could be one of us.” Throughout my career, I have had tremendous opportunities to understand and impact our firm’s business – from being personnel partner responsible for people management to leading operations for a major region to now leading all of RSM here in the U.S.

And I don’t believe my experience is unique. I believe it is available to anyone who chooses the profession, chooses to excel and is willing to take steps to make their firm, the users of financial statements and the profession better. I honestly don’t know of another career where you can make such a big impact on the capital markets, the businesses you work with, your colleagues and your firm.

I am proud of the work our firm and our profession does to build confidence in our capital markets. I am proud of how I have personally helped business owners and shareholders of all types make confident decisions as a result of the work my teams and I have done auditing their financial statements. I am proud of the impact I have been able to make at RSM. And I am proud of the way I have been able to support and provide for my family as a result of my choice to be an auditor. I can’t imagine a more rewarding career.

That’s why I am #auditorproud.