Interview with Ng Sze Fang, Assistant Manager
Sze Fang is an Assistant Manager in the Assurance department at Foo Kon Tan LLP. She has been with the firm for 4 years now.
Please share more about the company you were seconded to and your role while you were there.
I was seconded to HLB Mann Judd (Melbourne), a member firm of the HLB Mann Judd Australasian Association consisting of 9 member firms and 2 representative firms. The Assurance department there comprise of about 30 staff. During my stint there, I was involved in the audit of 4 government entities, certification for 1 private organisation and was also partially involved in the audit of 2 other private companies.
What was 1 thing that you found the most difficult to adapt when you first arrived?
The greatest challenge ought to be getting familiarised with the audit procedures and templates in the Melbourne office which were different from that in Foo Kon Tan. Considerable amount of time was spent reading and understanding the current year's audit plan and previous year's signed audited financials to better understand the client. I also had to peruse previous year's audit work papers and templates to understand the procedures required to be performed. When in doubt, I would clarify the procedures required with the team members for which they would gladly lend a helping hand.
How would you describe the work culture in Australia vis-à-vis that of Singapore?
The government entities there utilise excel templates provided by the Victorian Auditor-General's Office for account reconciliations and financial statements. Thus, they were more well-prepared for the audit as compared to the private entities which results in high efficiency. Audit planning for private entities usually take place at the client's office though deliverables were not received (i.e. trial balance and management accounts)
The team members that I had worked with were generally friendly. It was also apparent that there is hardly a 'over-time culture' there for both clients and audit staff due to a stronger emphasis on work-life balance.
In your view, what are the 2 most memorable moments during your secondment stint?
There is a team meeting held monthly for the department I was with. During these meetings, we welcome new-joiners, acknowledge resignees, share new/loss engagements etc. Through these communications, I feel more engaged as a stakeholder in the team. Additionally, I noted that there is high reliance on audit templates and control testing there. This results in a more efficient audit process in termings of performing the fieldwork and for review by the management.
How do you think this secondment was value-added to your job?
This secondment has provided me the exposure to a different work environment and culture. I have formed lasting friendships across the continent which I believe will go a long way. Through this hands-on experience, I have also gained a more thorough understanding on the use of Caseware. This is vital as it is a tool well-needed in my area of work and has certainly enhanced my mastery of the software. Now that I am back, I will be able to refer to best practices learnt in Melbourne and see if it could be applied to our processes to improve efficiency.
What is one piece of advice you would give to the next batch of secondees?
Keep an open mind and do not over-pack your luggage.