October 17, 2023

What Makes a Good Auditor? Our Experts Weigh In

“I like to be the resource for clients.” – Valerie Medick

Each person in the assurance group at Weiss excels at client relationships. Recent conversations with Jeremy Morgan, Dan Bailey, Valerie Medick and Allen Plenner – just four out of a team of 20 – demonstrated the breadth and depth of experience they provide their clients.

Allen Plenner, a CPA and senior manager with many years of experience, likes the variety that assurance offers. Prior to Weiss, he worked at other public accounting firms, where he developed an expertise auditing clients in construction, manufacturing and distribution.

Looking back on his variety of workplaces, he acknowledges the different cultures and approaches to auditing. He feels this makes him a better auditor: he has more to contribute to his team and ultimately to his clients. “I work with an outstanding group of people here at Weiss,” Plenner said. He especially enjoys meeting with clients, understanding their businesses, and getting to know them.

It makes sense that his thinking is rooted in delivering excellent customer service at each interaction. Plenner said, “I ask myself what is it that this client needs? I pride myself on having strong communication skills, which is critical so we can meet and exceed client expectations. I always try to under-promise and over-deliver.”

He and his wife love to travel and many of their trips have included hiking and in exotic locales including the Inca Trail, rice fields in Vietnam, and the Peruvian Amazon. Each trip involves detailed planning, and being able to adjust as needed. “I like to be proactive instead of reactive, I try to be flexible. That’s a good rule of thumb as an auditor as well.”

Valerie Medick is an assurance supervisor with and has been at Weiss for close to 6 years. She was fortunate to secure an internship at Weiss while a student at Northern Illinois University and had a great experience. After her internship, she felt confident about both her career choice and wanting to work at Weiss. She loves the family feel of the office. “They are the best people I’ve ever worked with,” said Medick.

She works on interesting assignments and is constantly learning. It might involve being exposed to a new client’s business, getting up to speed on a new software package like Leasecrunch or digesting new guidance from the IRS.

“Everyone at Weiss is so supportive. If you have questions about an assignment, you are encouraged to ask for assistance. I’ve always felt comfortable to go to my bosses or other members of the team, and I try to provide that assistance to others, too, now that I’m a supervisor. People here want you to succeed. In fact, they want you to be fascinated by your work. It’s just a great place to be.”

As a self-described extrovert, Medick enjoys going to visit her clients, talking with them, and building relationships. She thrives on those connections and learning about each business in detail. It allows her to do her job to the best of her ability. Said Medick, “To me, a lot of tax is transactional and can be resolved with email. I like that assurance is involved with understanding the situation and finding solutions.”

Dan Bailey, a senior manager, has been at Weiss for 12 years. He spoke about the esprit de corps within the firm and why it’s a great place for people like him, as well as for clients.

“The people here are phenomenal. It’s a very positive environment. Everyone is friendly. There is an open door policy: you can walk into anybody’s office and ask a question. People are eager to help you. The culture of the firm brings people together. Communication is really important here. We aren’t siloed. There’s a feeling that we are all in it together,” he said.

Although he’s worked on the tax side of the business, he prefers assurance. “What I enjoy the most about assurance is it gives you the opportunity to get out and get to know the clients. During Covid, we did a lot of that work remotely, of course. But I really enjoy getting out and meeting a client in person. I enjoy the variety of businesses, too. Manufacturing, service businesses, anything from logistics to healthcare. You’re going to go to their warehouse, you’re going to see how they manufacture and what they make. You’ll definitely meet somebody in accounting, but you might also get to meet somebody in the sales department. You will get an exposure to a lot of different aspects of a company,” said Bailey

Jeremy Morgan, a CPA and partner in audit and assurance services, has been at Weiss 13 years. He loves the personal connections and relationships he’s built through the years. In his role, he is more focused on the big picture for each client – making sure everyone at Weiss working to support that client has the right resources, understands the strategic direction, and feels empowered to ask questions.

“Another part of my job is spending time with each client so that I understand what they are going through right now, given how rapidly things in the world and economy can change. I make sure to understand their issues and their goals. Good communication is essential and everyone I work with – clients and my Weiss colleagues – know I am only a phone call away,” said Morgan.

When asked “What makes a good auditor?,” Morgan was quick to offer four key traits.

  • Be responsive, especially to your clients’ needs. Weiss provides service. It’s in our DNA.
  • Solve problems. Weiss is part of the BDO Alliance. If a client has a question or an unusual issue to solve, somebody, somewhere within Weiss or the alliance will know the answer. Don’t hesitate to use your resources.
  • Think creatively. To revive a tired cliche, think outside the box. Brainstorm with your colleagues; get your team involved. A little bit of non-traditional thinking might lead to an innovative solution to complex business and accounting issues.
  • Build an expertise. Every accountant and CPA has to maintain continuing education and document those hours every year, but even beyond that, stay involved. Go beyond the minimum requirements so that your expertise is invaluable.

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