A Day at Work

I wanted to use this blog to share my experience doing audit work. Please note that my audit experience may be different from others, since client industry (retail, banking, asset management, energy, manufacturing, etc.) and office location heavily influence the type of work you will do. For instance, while it is very common for most audit interns to count inventory, my client group has no inventory to be counted. Furthermore, while smaller offices allow associates to work in “general audit” groups, where professionals get to work with clients from multiple sectors, offices such as NY will require their workforce to specialize in an industry, in some cases, placing associates with the same client for years (financial industry clients can be complex entities). Having said that, the overall audit goal is mostly the same.

– My Day –

GS Tower, Client Site

GS Tower, Client Site

6:40am: Shower and get ready to be out by 7:30. I need to make my way to the client office, which is located in Jersey City, right across the financial district. To do that I make my way to the World Trade Center and arrive through the PATH to GS Tower, where one of RBC Capital Markets office is located.

8:40: I get to the office, the view is beautiful. I can see both Lady Liberty and Wall Street from the floor we are in. I get to the meeting room we are stationed in and set my computer, go through emails and make sure I am on top of things

9:20: Everyone is cooking; working in different parts of the audit. Right now we are working in the planning stage, which means understanding the client’s way of doing business, their processes and delivery methods. We record everything that we are given and test their validity by performing calculations. For me this consists of reading through walkthrough diagrams, write briefs on them, and trace documents that explain how these processes work. I have done this for repos, futures and securities trading. Everything is then uploaded to PwC’s audit application.

It may seem that the audit profession is very structured, but this is not fully true. Although people do have specific assigned tasks by the team leader, they may find that they need to obtain files from the client, make calls, and work with other members as they go through their duties. Often people juggle duties, one moment you may be auditing a valuation model, and the next you can be reconciling commission fees. People have to be flexible in this profession. It feels like a crash course into the business of your client.

12:30 Lunch, we all talk and get to know each other. Food is great btw. One of the benefits of joining PwC is that their clients are top notch, and thus we get to utilize their resources when we work from their office.

1:20 I continue working in reconciliations, particularly for trading operations. I also get to help out with regulatory requirements. While I do this I get to learn a lot of the details of how Investment Banks actually work and the regulation that they are required to go through. The client also has given us a couple of models that I got to test to assure their validity. That task is usually given to PwC’s Models team, but given my academic background was given a shoot. I figured it out.

3:00 pm: I either continue what I was doing, receive new work, or have a meeting to join. Half of our meetings are with Middle and Back Office, who give us files that we will use in our audit, they explain how these files were created and answer all the questions we have. Sometimes we call personnel from other offices, including offices abroad. Other times meetings are part of PwC continuous training, and thus receive further teaching in specific areas of the financial industry.

3:00 pm: I am usually given a new task that I have not seen before, I spend the next hour trying to figure it out. Sometimes I am given documents to interpret, other times calculation base work. The cool part is that any questions that I may have, I get to ask RBC’s employees for an answer.

6:20pm: I get to go home, I take my time as I like to walk around the City and listen to The Economist Magazine Audio.

7:10pm: I get home, run for about an hour in Central Park and get back home to shower.

At least once a week we do our work from PwC’s Office in midtown Manhattan. Usually we do this on Fridays. Weekends are all ours.

Auditing an investment bank and training at PwC

I spent the last week on training, spending about 8 hours a day going through the content that any successful intern should know with a Senior Manager.  We had these sessions in rooms with about 20 interns. Excel was a big portion of our training, as we were encouraged to become more efficient in our work. To my surprise, a significant number of associates at the Firm are able to navigate their computer without ever touching their mouse. This seems impossible to me, but then again, being able to type without ever looking at the keyboard seemed just as hard back when I was nine. However, not everything from last week was work; as PwC is a strong believer of work hard and play hard. On Friday, PwC invited all workers and interns to Madison Square Garden for Promotion Day. We had the opportunity to hear from our CEO, Market Leaders, and from Trevor Noah, host of the Daily Show! After which, we had happy-hours/social events that lasted about 4 hours; first near the Empire State (everyone at the firm) and later in a boat near the financial district (everyone in my team -Banking and Capital Markets). It was a wonderful first week.

Going forward, I will be spending my time between Madison 300 in midtown Manhattan and Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City. as there will be tasks that I can only do at home office, while others at the client (most of them). While most audit internships have their interns work in multiple clients from different industries within a few weeks, an audit internship in a major city is quite different. This is because in big cities, audit teams become more specialized. In fact, in some cases, audit associates can spend series of years with the same client, as this have complicated business operations and financial products. As a member of the Banking and Capital Markets team, my client is an investment bank, and my first assignment surrounds its broker-dealer operations. Right now the team is working in assessing the key risks of our client, and trying to understand their business processes. This is because we have just started this year’s audit. Even though I am an intern, I am being given meaningful and challenging work. Tomorrow I will sit in a meeting with one of our senior associates and the client’s internal audit team to learn more about how derivatives are sold and the process through which commissions are recorded in this bank. Our main goal is not to make sure that the client is taking appropriate risks, but that the recognition of revenue through each activity is appropriate.

I will blog more about the work itself in the future, but to conclude, I wanted to talk about my team. Despite our client being able to bring billions of dollars in their IB operations, we are a team of only 12 individuals in this office as of now. This means that we all get to collaborate in about everything that we do. In fact, we don’t have an office, but a conference room, where we sit around a big table and talk through the challenges that we encounter.

For the first time, I am in a group of people where having an accent is the normal, as there are more people from outside the US than there are US Citizens. We have a SA from Madrid, a SA from Pakistan, a Partner from the UK, an associate from Russia, an associate from Portugal, a manager from Canada, and and intern from Mexico (me), while the rest of the team are US citizens (one of which lived 10 years in the UK). I really like where my career is going.

 

 

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Importance of A Safety Net

Work in any industry is always at least somewhat unpredictable. In the film industry, at least in the beginning of a career, this is especially true. Unlike other entry-level jobs, Production Assistants in film have no long-term contract or even a company to say they work for. Your job is only really secure for half a year at most, and even then, Production Assistants are hired and fired all the time (though, if you do a good job, the firing part shouldn’t be part of your career).

Thus, its vitally important for every Production Assistant and every wannabe Production Assistant to have a safety net in case things go wrong. This is especially important for those who don’t have health insurance/aren’t covered by their parents’ health insurance. Thankfully, I’m covered, so that’s an expense I don’t have to worry about.

When people talk about safety nets, they usually say you should have enough to cover 3-6months of normal expenses. This amount always seemed like kind of a stretch to me, until now.

Let me start off by saying that I consider myself a financially savvy person. Now, that doesn’t mean I have a bunch of investments (though I’m getting there) or things like that, but I keep a detailed Excel spreadsheet with my budget per semester, and for this job, I’m doing it month by month. Basically, I keep my budget in terms of each saving period. So for school, I only need to spend a lot of money twice a year (before fall and spring semester), as I lived in the residence halls freshman-junior year. Now that I have an apartment where big expenses occur each month, I’ve set it up that way. I like doing this for multiple reasons:

One, the peace of mind is great. I can see how much I’ve saved up so far, and how much I still need to make to meet my goals. There’s no guesswork involved. It also allows me to see exactly how much spending money I have, so I can’t overspend unless I consciously do it (and that does happen sometimes, I will admit).

Having this budget also allows me to see and plan for my future expenses, like rent, car payments, etc. and put money in my savings in the event of unexpected expenses.

For me, my unexpected expenses came in the form of a job offer in Georgia. With a little over a month’s notice, I had to find and apartment, get a car, and move 600 miles from Columbus to Atlanta.

Without the savings buffer I built myself, I don’t think I would have been able to make the move. Little expenses kept piling up—everything from plungers to mattress toppers. There is always something that comes up that I need to buy, and I won’t get my first paycheck for two weeks. Also, this gives me a buffer for the beginning of the month, when I have to pay the majority of July’s expenses on the first of July.

Long story short, make sure you’re saving. A little bit goes a long way, and someday when you need to dig into those savings, you’ll be glad you did. My savings buffer will be enough to get me through three months pf expenses with a bit of wiggle room if I need it. Had I not been putting money aside every paycheck, I definitely wouldn’t have had enough to be where I am today.

Lingo and Lexicon

From the first day of my internship I learned that I was going to have to ask a lot of questions if I was going to be successful. I know from my previous internship that each place of business has its own lingo and abbreviations (who would have guessed that NDI stands for Next Day Interviews and IV means Increased Visibility?). So here is a list of some of the things I have picked up so far! Hopefully if you are interning in retail or marketing they will be helpful!

Acronyms:

  • DC: Distribution center: A warehouse that is stocked with products to be redistributed to stores around the country
  • DM: District Manager: A person who manages a set of stores. For example, one person might oversee 10 stores in Ohio.
  • MOD: Manager on Duty: Most stores have a few managers. MOD is the one who is working at the store at that moment.
  • BOPIS: Buy Online, Pick up in Store: A great option that DSW has that allows you to buy a product online and pick it up at a location near you!
  • TB: Touch base: A quick meeting, usually with your supervisor to update them on what is going on.
  • EOD: End of Day: Example: “Have this report to me by EOD.”
  • CTA: Call to Action: a link or image that encourages a consumer to take action (example: visit website)
  • OOO: Out of Office: Example: “Her calendar says that she is OOO Monday through Wednesday on a trip to Boston.”
  • POS: Point of Sale: The time and place where a transaction takes place.

 

I’m sorry to let you know but the vocab words you learned in Marketing 3250 with Terry Paul actually come in handy! Here a just a few that I hear on a regular basis!

 

  • Omni-Channel Retailing: provide a customer with multiple ways to shop (example DSW stores, mobile site and computer site).
  • Pop-Up Shop: short term or flash retailing in a temporary location. Example: DSW partnered with Teva  at Coachella and Bonnaroo for a pop-up location where people could buy and decorate a pair of Tevas!
DIY Tevas!

DIY Tevas!

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  • Perceived Value: Customer’s evaluation of the benefits and costs of an offering relative to those of competing offers. For example, DSW offers a better added value for their shoes than competitors and even displays other prices on their website.

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  • Frequency marketing program: The more you buy, the more you save! DSW rewards members get 10 points for every $1 spent! At 1,500 points you get $10 off!
  • Market targeting: evaluating markets and selecting which one(s) to enter. DSW selected about 20 stores to test market kids shoes in the last year!

 

*Fun Fact: DSW offers free shipping to ALL Rewards Members (takes about 1 minute to sign up)! And to answer your question, yes, I’ve bought way too many shoes already!

**Tip of the day: Always keep a notepad with you whenever you go to a meeting or even to ask your manager a question. You never want to be caught off guard or forget something because you didn’t take notes. This is also a great place to keep a list of all the acronyms you learn!

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*** Embarrassing moment: Each conference room at DSW is named after a street in New York, so I spent a good 15 minutes looking at a map of the building to find where my next meeting was. I finally gave up and asked around. Apparently “CRD” stands for “Courtney Russell’s Desk”…well that was embarrassing. Lesson? Just ask

 

How is It Already June?

As I finish up the fourth week of my internship I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned a lot about office etiquette, accounting and finance, and most importantly how many times it is socially acceptable to eat at Chipotle for lunch (the limit does not exist).

Throughout the few weeks I’ve been here I’ve also learn a few important practices to make the most of a summer internship.

During the first few weeks I spent a lot of time working with an analyst and associate as they walked me through some of their common assignments. Although I was basically just watching, I realized how important it is to take advantage of this time and ask questions about what I’m unsure of as well as take notes on processes that I might forget. This enabled me to feel much more comfortable when working on my own and helped me to make sure my deliverables were properly formatted and accurate.

I also learned the importance of double and triple check ALL of your work. This principle is crucial in any internship and on any deliverable, email, and even rough draft. In my experience, it’s always better to take an additional minute and check your work to avoid mistakes like sending your superior “SIGNED” documents labeled as “SINGED” documents.

Lastly, I learned that there might be times during an internship when you feel like you aren’t doing anything important. Although it can be tempting to want to go home early on nights when you aren’t that busy, I’ve learned that its far more beneficially to stay and continue working on tedious work. By staying a little later with my co-worker, I’ve been able to help with more projects and really make the most of my experience.