What Does an Auditor Do?
Cal alumni, Jason Li (Econ `01) and Janet Kang (BusAd & Educ `02), talk about their careers in financial services with Wells Fargo.
Career Center (CC): What are your current positions?
Jason Li (JL): I'm an Internal Auditor with Wells Fargo Audit Services.
Janet Kang (JK): I am an Auditor in Wells Fargo Audit Services Rotation and Training (R&T) Program. This internal audit department focuses on providing risk-management advisory and consulting services to the many different business lines of Wells Fargo. The R&T Program is relatively young, as we are currently recruiting our 3rd "class." Currently there are 14 members in R&T, across 4 different offices (San Francisco, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Des Moines). As a part of this program, I rotate through different groups at 6-month intervals. Groups are divided based on the business lines. I am currently in the Internet Services Group and my next rotation will be with Wholesale Banking.
CC: What are your main responsibilities?
JL: The most common misperception of internal auditors is that we are basically accountants who look at financial statements and spreadsheets all day. That couldn't be further from the truth. Internal auditors participate in every aspect of the company's business, from the internal IT infrastructure to mergers & acquisitions to compliance with federal and corporate policies. I view myself as an internal consultant and business partner; during an audit we try to add value to the business through our recommendations, whether we're helping them address problems, or just providing an outside perspective.
JK: My responsibilities include assisting in the improvement of shareholder value by enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of operations; ensuring the security of data and accuracy of financial reporting, and ensuring compliance with policies, laws and regulations; identifying risk and recommending cost effective solutions; functioning as a change agent to ensure risk issues are escalated and resolved; and providing recommendations to improve risk management practices and controls in the design of new products/processes.
CC: What experiences and/or training were important in getting you to where you are in your career?
JL: Having multiple internship experiences definitely helped me during the recruiting process, and majoring in economics provided me somewhat of a financial background. But most importantly, it's about developing the intangible skills, like communication, resourcefulness, leadership, analysis, independence, etc.
JK: Group projects in undergraduate classes helped me. All of the projects I am involved in at work are team-based. It is helpful that students interested in this field gain experience working in groups to build their teamwork, communication, and leadership skills.
Summer internships are a great way to explore industries/jobs. During the sophomore and junior year summers, I interned at a non-profit educational research organization. This indicates that students do not necessarily need industry experience. Summer internships teach students about the working world - organization, structure, decision making, networking, etc - valuable experiences that are not easily taught in a classroom.
CC: What do you like about your work? Any drawbacks?
JL: I like the variety of work the most; I'm not performing the same repetitive tasks day after day, month after month. I might review an Internet application during one audit, work with Human Resources the next, and then assist with a recently acquired company after that. I'm constantly learning and facing new challenges.
Wells Fargo is a terrific fit for me coming out of school, too. Like most students coming out of college, I had no clue what I wanted to do for a career -- this is still true for the most part. I just wanted to explore my options and learn about as many different things as I could. The Audit Rotational Training program was perfect in the sense that it exposes me to different areas of this company and provides a comprehensive training as well. And anyone can appreciate the benefits of working for a large, established company in a stable industry. With over 130,000+ employees, I figure there must be something for me at this company!
- Structured Program: The R&T Program has many great elements including training, mentorship, a rotational aspect that allows me to see different areas of the bank, etc. Also, we are divided in the program based on "class" which gives the group a feeling of camaderie.
- Manageable Work Schedule: 40-50 hours per week allows me to develop professionally and time manage other commitments outside of work (certification plans, volunteer work, time with friends/family).
- Stable and Respectable Company: Job security is high at Wells Fargo due to its conservatism and reputation.
- Big Company: A company as big as Wells Fargo inherently needs a clearly defined organizational structure and hierarchy. This hierarchy often slows processes and decision-making, which can be frustrating.
CC: Do you have any tips for Cal undergrads about how to best prepare themselves for a career in this field?
JL: I don't think there's any pre-requisite classes you need to be an internal auditor, although having some sort of financial/business/technology background doesn't hurt when recruiting. It's all about those intangible skills I mentioned above. The good news is that Berkeley students generally excel at these skills already, regardless of their major or background
JK: Read the newspaper frequently to become knowledgeable about what is happening in the world. This can help you in any career. Take accounting and finance classes to see if you are interested in the financial services industry. This will help build your analytical and problem-solving skills. Become involved in extra-curricular activities. Well-roundedness is a characteristic that employers value. It shows that you have time management, organizational, leadership, and teamwork skills.