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Women in audit

A two-year secondment is still going strong 18 years later for Allee.

Audit isn’t just about numbers. It's about meeting people, business acumen and problem solving.

It’s also about making an impact. And nailing the work/life balance too.

According to Audit & Assurance partner, Allee Bonnard, everyone should try it. She believes you can rapidly gain skills that will stand you in good stead, whatever career path you choose.

Allee was never meant to stay in London. Her secondment from Deloitte’s New York office, after a three-month stint in Australia, was supposed to last two years. That was in 2005.

Her journey through Audit & Assurance has been similar. "I never thought I was necessarily going to stay in the profession, but the reality was, throughout my career, I never found another job I wanted to do more when I really thought about it," Allee says.

Now, with a family in the UK, and as one of our growing number of female audit partners, she puts her commitment to Deloitte and auditing down to three things – the people, the constant learning, and the opportunity to make a difference to the companies she helps hold to account.

We’re privileged to work with fantastic colleagues who are really bright, motivated and have a team attitude. I never feel like I need to figure everything out on my own.“If you enjoy learning and want to make friends and connections for life, and be able to have an impact on society, this is the profession for you.

Allee Bonnard
Partner, Audit & Assurance

"It's not just about asking 'is the accounting correct?'” she explains. “It's also managing and motivating people, and getting projects done to a particular timetable.

“Those skills are invaluable in any profession. In Audit & Assurance, I think you get opportunities to develop those capabilities when you’re much younger than you might elsewhere.

“What surprises people most about audit is just how much you learn beyond your training years. I think people come in, assume they’ll get their ACA accounting qualification and that’s it, they've done it. But that just gives you the foundation to be able to learn the good stuff. You never get bored.”

One of the aspects that brings Allee satisfaction is the impact she makes by ensuring there's evidence to back up what companies are telling the public.

"That's something those of us who've been in the profession for a long time take for granted, but we get to have a lot of positive impact and that's really great. It’s a huge privilege to be able to do that.”

The changing face of Audit & Assurance

The number of female partners in Audit & Assurance is growing fast.

Only five years ago, 9 per cent of FTSE 100 audits at Deloitte were signed off by women. For 2023 it's expected to be around 50 per cent.

Audit has transformed in other respects too. Hybrid working has given Allee more time to spend with her family – she can now coach her daughter's netball team, knowing the commute won't get in the way of the 6pm start.

"It has helped me a lot,” she continues. “No one bats an eye when you aren’t available in the middle of the day because you want to go to your kid's play or whatever it is.

"The feeling that you have to be at your desk constantly has completely gone. It's about the quality of the work you deliver.

"That helps different people in different ways. It gives me more time to spend with my family, for the things that matter most."

Speaking of her own influence as a female partner, Allee has a sense of pride in being a role model.

“If I can give people a bit of confidence that it's possible that’s great,” she says.

“When I was working in New York I remember thinking to myself ‘I never want to be superwoman; I never want to be this person who's juggling spending time with their kids and a full-on career.’ But there’s no way I would give up either now. I still have out-of-work activities, but I do them with my kids, like hiking and playing tennis with my daughters.”

So what’s next?

Although Allee loves her role as it is now, she wants to see the Audit & Assurance function continue to evolve.

That includes increasing the use of tech and embracing AI, which she believes is a huge opportunity to reduce manual tasks so the experts can get on with the really interesting work.

Allee’s also driven by the need to keep breaking down barriers – and preconceptions.

“I want there to be a more and more diverse partner group so everyone has several partners they can look up to and say, ‘that person is similar to me,’” she explains. “We also have a big role to play in changing some of those misconceptions.”

One she’s particularly keen to quash is the idea of auditors as ‘bean counters’.

“We have a positive story to tell about how we hold companies to account and the impact we make,” Allee says. “We have a lot of pride in the business around being an auditor and our role in society, but that public perception still isn't there. We need to do more to change that.”

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