Stories from Practice

7 January 2019

Volunteering for a more human approach by Marcel Karman and Arjan Buteijn from NBA

Auditors face increasing pressure to evaluate more than just the financial results of a company. For 40 years, one audit firm in the Netherlands has been committed to helping the community for a more human approach to the profession.

Marcel Karman and Arjan Buteijn of Dubois & Co, share details about how social engagement helps employees become more compassionate and well-rounded auditors.

Giving back is in our DNA

Auditors are in a challenging profession, given the post-global financial crisis changes in international accounting standards and the growing pressure on auditors 1) not to fail and 2) to look beyond the numbers (e.g. sustainability audits). We need to fight hard for young talent. Many millennials may not view auditing as a ‘sexy’ career choice. However, we are offering a challenging career with control over what you do and the chance to give back.

Every year, all employees are granted time off for a socially beneficial activity. Our colleagues work with people in need, they’re members of foundations, they sit on public committees, some may even spend a week on holiday supporting disabled people. Through volunteering, we’re able to imbue our work culture with social values and the concept of giving back.

We have to look at work culture, in our own firm and beyond. As auditors we need to improve organisations holistically. And this process begins through having a human approach to our clients, with the perspective of giving back.

NGO’s benefit from professional skills

Arjan was on the board of a UK-based minority rights NGO as a treasurer. With my advice, they established best-practices for projects, core funding and project subsidies. The impact may not be easily quantifiable, but it certainly helps organisations improve transparency concerning their finances.

Most of all, I have become a more complete auditor/advisor thanks to my experience. This helps me look beyond the numbers in my role as an auditor. And it’s not just me. When colleagues come back from volunteering, you see they have broadened their perspectives. The discussions we have are more human and mature.

This is important because auditors are expected to add more value in their engagements and to be more analytical, which, considering the scrutiny the audit profession is under, can only be a good thing.


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