Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Phil Sharman

Phil SharmanPhil is the Statutory External Auditor for the British Overseas Territory of St Helena. He independently audits and reports to parliament on the financial affairs of government and public bodies including their economic, efficient and effective use of resources.

He started his career as a professional audit trainee with the Audit Commission in 1983. After becoming CIPFA qualified, he joined Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) as an Audit Manager in their public sector division in Norwich. In 1990, with three years post-qualified manager experience, he decided to venture overseas, working for the Development for International Development (DFID) as a Director of Audit, initially in St Helena and then the Turks & Caicos Islands.  

Since then he has held senior internal audit positions with NHS Scotland and NHS Wales and statutory external auditor appointments with the Audit Commission and Audit New Zealand. In 2014 he returned to St Helena again as external auditor to promote good governance and accountability.

Why did you choose to work in public services?

I graduated university with a Science degree so I was used to applying investigative techniques, analysing large data sets, and communicating technical findings. A career in audit presented an opportunity to develop these research skills and become a professional accountant. It also provided an economically viable alternative to the conventional post-graduate scientist options.

Why did you choose accountancy as a career?

I graduated university with a Science degree so I was used to applying investigative techniques, analysing large data sets, and communicating technical findings. A career in audit presented an opportunity to develop these research skills and become a professional accountant. It also provided an economically viable alternative to the conventional post-graduate scientist options.

How long have you been qualified as a CPFA?

I passed my final CIPFA examination in 1986 and became a member of the Institute in 1987. I have been a qualified professional for over 30 years.

Why did you choose to become CIPFA certified? 

I was among the first cohort of graduate trainees to join the Audit Commission at its inception in 1983. The Audit Commission was a major sponsor of professional trainees studying for the CIPFA qualification because of its excellent fit with local government and the National Health Service. 

Do you believe that your CIPFA certification created opportunities for you that would have otherwise been unavailable? 

There is no doubt that the understanding of public sector finance and accountancy within the CIPFA qualification provided that added-value insight in my role as external auditor in the public sector. It also enabled me to step-up when new opportunities presented with professional confidence and expertise.

How does the CIPFA certification help you in your day-to-day tasks, as well as long-term?

The CIPFA qualification gives me the professional authority to perform my function as statutory external auditor and to issue reports bearing my name along with the Chartered Public Finance Accountant (CPFA) designation.  

What do you value most about your CIPFA membership? 

Being a member of a professional body which carries the hallmark of quality and excellence in public services within which I operate. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed a fabulous career with my CIPFA qualification.