Reflections of an Auditor

August 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

During June of 1980, I graduated from Iowa State University, got married, and moved to Kansas City to begin my financial statement auditing career with Deloitte, Haskins and Sells, P.C. What’s changed during the past thirty-five years in the world of financial statement auditing?

The Uniform

In 1980, auditors dressed in a conservative three piece suit (the vests were hot), or for women a conservative blue suit coat with a matching skirt.  Business casual was acceptable at training conferences, but never at a client. “Jeans days” certainly did not exist.  We dressed as if we were attending a funeral.

Over the years, the dress code has changed to allow more personal expression, but khaki pants and collared shirts have replaced the blue suits and white button-down dress shirts. Today, most of us can change our shoes and play a round of golf.

The ToolsAuditor

Every auditor had a catalog case – or two or three – to carry around the current-year and prior-year audit work papers.  There was likely another audit case full of spare columnar paper (including 11×17 sheets that were taped together for complex documentation), red/blue/green pencils, paper hole reinforcements, hole punches, rolls of adding machine tape, and rolls of scotch tape.  We used lots of tape to secure client documents to our paper sheets as every document in the file had to be 11 inches long.  Each auditor was also provided a very heavy $400 desktop calculator. The newer ones even had displays.

We’ve replaced most all of that old equipment with a 3 or 4 pound laptop, which should make our client visits much easier. However, we now also need a printer, scanner, router and second monitors. So now you’ll see auditors arriving at client offices with a couple of bulging computer bags slung over their shoulders, rather than pulling two-wheeled carts full of audit cases.


In the 1980’s you went out for lunch every day; either with clients or your co-workers.  Lunch always took at least an hour.  No one brought their lunch or ran out to grab something to quickly eat at their desks. I’m really not nostalgic as I don’t miss Taco Tuesdays, pizza buffets, or cheap Chinese restaurant lunches.

We now use lunch as an opportunity to accomplish more during the day, exercise, run an errand, or otherwise help with work/life balance issues. Packing a lunch or taking a half hour quick lunch has replaced the lunch hour of the 80’s. It’s also healthier.

Financial Statement Reporting

Even though we have been using double entry bookkeeping for 500 years, each generation of new accounting profession believes it can improve the independent auditor’s report and financial statement presentation/disclosures. As a result, we are about to change our independent auditor’s report for the second time since 1980 (do readers care, except to see if there are any modifications to the standard report?), adopt new revenue recognition standards, and again, for the second time since 1980, change the way non-profit organizations present their financial operations.

As I reflect back on the past 35 years, it’s been enjoyable to watch and live through these changes.  Change is neither good nor bad; it’s just inevitable.

Mike McNichols, CPA
Mike McNichols




Partner – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.

Back to School

August 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

How can it possibly be that time? Summer feels like it has just begun. Yet children are getting ready to head off to school. For some parents, it is a time to rejoice; for others, it is a time of sadness. For students, it is a time of new beginnings, continued education, excitement, and/or dread. I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes concerning going back to school.

“Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.” – Bill Dodds

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” – Sydney J. Harris

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” – Robert Maynard HutchinsBack_to_school

“As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.” – Author Unknown

“You can get all A’s and still flunk life.” – Walker Percy

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” – attributed to both Andy McIntyre and Derek Bok

From a practical standpoint in connection with back to school, John Schmidt wrote an excellent blog in November 2014 regarding Section 529 college savings plans. I recommend you read it here.

As a parent, I am approaching back to school from a different angle. For me, it is a time to reflect on how quickly those days passed for my children. It may not have seemed like it at the time, but now it seems like those years flew by. So, my advice is to enjoy your children’s school years. All too soon your “little ones” will be off on their own. And when that time comes, remember there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.

Dave Hurst, CPA

Dave Hurst





Partner – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.

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