Bank feeds: please remember that it’s bank information

When my wife says that I did something (usually wrong), and I say that I didn’t, she quite rightly asks me ‘Who is the better judge of your behaviour, you or me?’ And I know then that she’s got an apology coming. The other party, my wife, trumps what I think. With bank feeds though, that data that arrives electronically from the bank into your accounting system, automatically or with one touch, it pays to remember that, with few exceptions, it is the other way around: of the two parties involved, you and the bank, it is you who should know more about these transactions. You know more about them than the bank because they are about your operations, and the bank is merely a service connecting your money with its source or destination.

Why is this important I hear you say? Well because with these feeds you have a choice as to how far you treat the information – the bank’s information – as a sufficient record, along with any internal paperwork that you might have, as your information, that is, the official record of what your organisation has done financially.  How happy are you to accept the information supplied by the bank – the feed, i.e. the amount, date and particulars of the transaction recorded by the bank – as your record of what went on in your business?

At one end of the spectrum you can do no bookkeeping before the bank feed arrives, letting the contents of the feed, what the bank says as to the giver and receiver, and maybe even the purpose of the transaction, define the financial record of your organisation.

On this end you either think that your bank doesn’t make mistakes, or that checking up on them is not worth the effort.

At the other end you can treat the bank feed as merely an electronic version of the bank statement, a listing of the transactions processed to date by the bank. At this end your aim is to enter into your accounting system, as soon as you can, and from valid and authorised documents, all those events that affect the calculation of your financial position and performance. This information is available either because you initiated the transactions (e.g. payments), you have found out about them (e.g. donations), or you expect them (e.g. receipts).

The choice on this continuum depends on what you need in order to meet your objectives, i.e. what the accountants call ‘internal control’:

the process designed, implemented and maintained by (you) to provide reasonable assurance about the achievement of (your) entity’s objectives with regard to reliability of financial reporting, effectiveness and efficiency of operations, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations[i].

So by all means take a feed from your bank, but please first consider how it fits in with your internal control (or the internal control you should have). If you need help with this, give us a ring here at Business by The Book.

 

 

[i] Auditing Standard ASA 315 Identifying and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement through Understanding the Entity and Its Environment, Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, November 2013

Fraud in your organisation

There’s a strong chance that there’s a fraud going on in your organisation right now[i].

There’s a strong chance that you got a ‘clean’ audit opinion[ii].

Therefore there’s a strong chance that you don’t believe me[iii].

But, please, stay with me. (Besides, I know that you most likely see fraud prevention as important, if not very or extremely important[iv], so I’ll make it worth the extra few minutes of your time.)

The first thing that you need to know is that the fraud that concerns you as a leader may well be outside the definition of fraud for the auditor. Your auditor is only interested in the financial report, so only in fraudulent actions that result in misstatements in the financial report. You, however, are interested in the health of the organisation, so fraud for you is defined something like this:

The use of one’s occupation for personal enrichment through the deliberate misuse or misapplication of the employing organization’s resources or assets [v].

This results in a classification of fraud that is wider than theirs: to their fraudulent financial reporting and misappropriation of assets you add corruption. Conflicts of interest, bribery, illegal gratuities, and economic extortion.

Plus they have a higher threshold for mistakes than you. In fact, because of the inherent limitations of an audit, there is a chance that there are not only immaterial misstatements in the financial report, but also material misstatements.  (But this risk is low enough to allow them to issue a clean opinion.)

Then there’s their evidence for the assurance that they are able to express in their report.

Evidence of no fraud

Yes, your audit report says, under the heading Auditor’s Responsibility, that they ‘plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial report is free from material misstatement.’ And that these misstatements may be due to fraud.

However, you know that letter you sign for the auditor, the one he calls a ‘representation letter’? In there you say that you have told them (a) the results of your own ‘assessment of the risk that the financial report may be materially misstated as a result of fraud’, and (b) what you know about actual, suspected or alleged fraud affecting the entity. Well, because of “the nature of fraud and the difficulties encountered by auditors in detecting material misstatements in the financial report”, these statements will form a significant part of the evidence they collect to support their opinion[vi].

This is consistent with what the auditor says in the report under Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Report: that it is you who are responsible for the “internal control necessary to enable the preparation and fair presentation of the financial report that is free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error[vii].”

So it’s mostly down to you, not them. That’s why you have more chance of discovering fraud by accident that through external audit[viii].

Now do you believe me that you need much more than an external audit? If so, talk to a professional accountant (but not your auditor!).

 

 

 

 

[i] 43% of the 291 respondents in KPMG’s latest Fraud Survey experienced fraud (and 30% of them detected less than 40% of their frauds in their organisation) [A survey of fraud, bribery and corruption in Australia and New Zealand 2012, kpmg.com.au, 4].

[ii] 84% of audit reports submitted by ACT Medium charities at 13.03.2015 [research for this post: http://www.businessbythebook.com.au/weve-got-no-controls-over-that-revenue/.

[iii] In BDO’s Not-for-profit Fraud Survey 2014, only 28% of their 436 respondents saw fraud as a problem for their organisation (although 90% saw it as a problem for the sector.) And external audits was the No. 1 ‘primary factor’ for the respondents in reducing the risk of fraud. [bdo.com.au, 6,7].

[iv] 83% of all respondents see fraud prevention as important, very important or extremely important [bdo.com.au, 7].

[v] Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, 2014 Global Fraud Study, ACFE, 2014].

[vi] Auditing Standard ASA 580 Written Representations, www.auasb.gov.au.

[vii] Auditing Standard ASA 700 Forming an Opinion and Reporting on a Financial Report, www.auasb.gov.au.

[viii] 3% of cases compared to 7% [ACFE, 7].

We’ve got no controls over that revenue

Charity CEOs and board/committee members, let me give it to you straight: there are too many of you out there accepting something you shouldn’t accept. Have you got a copy of your last audit report handy? Have a look near the end. Is there a paragraph headed ‘Basis for Qualified Opinion’? And does the second sentence say that your organisation ‘has determined that it is impracticable to establish control over the collection of (part or all of your ‘fundraising revenue)’? And therefore that they are unable to express an opinion on the completeness of that revenue.

I’ll not be surprised if you find that it does; I have just finished reading all the audit reports of the ‘medium’ charities in the ACT, and found that 14% had this qualification.

If it does say this, or similar, then your auditor is saying that, although you know that it would be best to have some controls to ensure that this fundraising makes it into your bank account, you have decided that it is not viable for you to implement those controls.

Is that true? That’s the first thing to ask, because it may be that it has either never been asked or asked so long ago that the response will be ‘We’ve always done it that way.’

If it’s not true, then I’d ask your auditor what’s going on.   The auditor is only meant to give that qualification if[i]

  1. They have considered each source of revenue separately. This is because, as those guiding us say, each source has its own distinct inherent and control risk…[para. 19][ii], and
  2. A lack of what they call ‘sufficient appropriate audit evidence’ for a significant source of fundraising revenue, means that they are unable to conclude that the financial report as a whole is free from material misstatement.

They are also meant to have talked to you about the issue. See the discussion here.

The question should only arise in the case of cash donations. Even then, auditors should know that their profession believes that a qualification for the completeness of these donations should not be given as a ‘matter of course’[iii].

If it is true (that you decided to have no controls) then perhaps it’s time to revisit the question? Never mind what it is saying to the few donors or funding bodies who care to read the report; what about the fact the risk of fraud and the consequent reduction of service to your beneficiaries from losing valuable dollars just after they came into your possession?

Time to call in some professional help?

 

 

 

 

[i] Guidance Statement GS 019 Auditing Fundraising Revenue of Not-for-Profit Entities, Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AuASB), April 2011.

[ii] Here’s some example auditor descriptions of the part of fundraising revenue lacking controls that suggest that the sources of revenue were lumped together for testing (and therefore that maybe no qualification was necessary):

  • ‘revenue raising activities’ (Jenny Milward-Bason for the Campbell Primary School P & C
  • ‘income such as donations, client contributions and similar type income’ (Peter Irving, Peter Irving & Co, for the Council of the Ageing (ACT))
  • ‘income raised from fundraising’ (Stephen Bray for PANDSI)
  • ‘Fundraising and membership revenue’ (M L Port, DFK Collins for The Order of Australia)
  • ‘revenues and other fundraising activities’ (Amanda O’Reilly, Hardwickes, for ArtSound FM
  • ‘donations and other fundraising activity revenue’ (John Beard for Austral Asian Christian Church)

[iii] GS 019, paragraph 4.

An auditor’s view of your financial statements

Your representations. Representations to the user. That’s how the auditor, in planning their audit of the draft financial statements you’ve just delivered to them, will see them. One overall explicit representation, and, as a consequence of that representation, many, explicit and implicit, subsidiary representations.

Auditors call these subsidiary representations ‘assertions’. (If you are a user of the statements, keep reading; you may gain a greater understanding of what the financial statements tell you.)

Auditors use these assertions ‘to consider the different types of potential misstatement that may occur.’[i] This occurs in the planning phase of the audit, as part of their identification and assessment of the the risks of material[ii] misstatement, both at the financial report level (your overall representation), and at the assertion level (your subsidiary representations).

The overall representation you are making is that the financial report is in accordance with the ‘applicable financial reporting framework’, for instance, the cash basis of accounting. The subsidiary assertions, which flow from the reporting framework, are about the classes of transactions, account balances and disclosures in the statements– their recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure. That is, about the contents of the three reports usually required – the Income Statement, the Balance Sheet, and the Cash Flow Statement. (Or, in the case of our example, the cash basis of accounting, just a Statement of Cash Receipts and Payments.)

Here’s how the profession[iii] describes these assertions:

Classification Is the balance or transaction recorded in the proper account?
Existence Does the asset, liability or equity interest exist?
Accuracy Are the amounts recorded correctly?
Occurrence Did the transaction actually occur?
Rights and obligations Does the entity have the right or obligation associated with the balance?
Valuation & allocation Is the balance correctly valued and the resulting valuation or allocation adjustments appropriately recorded?
Cut-off Is the transaction recorded in the correct period?
Completeness Have all assets, liabilities & equity interest, transactions and events been recorded?
Presentation & disclosure Is the balance or transaction appropriately disclosed in terms of occurrence and rights and obligations, completeness, classification and understandability, and accuracy and valuation?

Perhaps now you can see the reason for some of the questions that the auditor asks you.

And the fee they charge (or give up).

 

P.S.  Business by The Book exists to provide accounting, audit and governance services, for no fee if necessary, to not-for-profits who are themselves serving those who are the least, last and lost of the world.

 

 

 

 

[i] Auditing Standard ASA 315 Identifying and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement through the Entity and Its Environment, Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, June 2011, paragraph.4(a)

[ii] For what errors, omissions and misstatements may remain in the accounts, after an audit, due to the ‘materiality’ restriction, see here.

[iii] Small Entities Audit Manual, CPA Australia Ltd, 2014, page 1:18.

No true and fair view required if using the cash basis?

Recent survey evidence[i] shows that there are great many associations that report using the cash basis. Many of these associations are charities. And many of these charities are yet to submit their 2014 Annual Information Statement to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)[ii].

If they used the cash basis ‘in the past’ they can use the cash basis for 2014[iii].

The ACNC says that this cash information ‘does not need to comply with the accrual accounting requirements of Australian Accounting Standards.’ There is only a choice between cash and accrual, so that follows. But it goes on to say that, as a consequence, the information ‘does not need to present a true and fair view.’[iv]

No true and fair view?

The cash basis, a basis that results in the presentation of a single statement, a Statement of Cash Receipts and Payments, is, in accounting language, an ‘applicable financial reporting framework’. These are of two types: a fair presentation framework and a compliance framework[v]. And it is this choice that determines whether or not a true and fair view is required, not cash or accrual.

This is a choice that you, the charity makes. And then that choice is assessed by your auditor.

A fair presentation framework requires not only compliance with the requirements of the framework, but also one of two acknowledgments: an acknowledgement (explicit or implicit) that, in order to achieve fair presentation, extra disclosures may be required; or an explicit acknowledgment that, in very rare circumstances, it may be necessary to depart from the framework[vi].

If this is the type of framework applicable then the auditor’s opinion will include one of the following phrases (which the profession sees as being equal): ‘presents fairly’ or ‘gives a true and fair view’[vii].

That a fair presentation framework is far from unexpected by the accounting standard setters is shown by the following entry in their table showing the applicability of ASA 805 to a Statement of Cash Receipts and Payments:[viii]

Entity and Information Type: Small company – statement of cash receipts and     payments, with related notes

Framework:                             Cash basis of accounting

Form of opinion:                     “Presents fairly in all material respects”

So, I’m sorry, but it would be unwise to rely on the ACNC’s statement that cash accounting means there’s no need for a true and fair view. You may need to get some professional accounting advice.

 

 

 

 

 

[i] AASB Research Report No. 1, Application of the Reporting Entity Concept and Lodgement of Special Purpose Financial Statements, www.aasb.gov.au.

[ii] (ACNC) ‘Commissioner’s Column – 4 February 2015’ page, www.acnc.gov.au, accessed 7.02.2015.

[iii]Transitional reporting arrangements’ page, www.acnc.gov.au, accessed 7.02.2015

[iv]Transitional reporting arrangements’ page, www.acnc.gov.au, accessed 7.02.2015

[v] Auditing Standard ASA 200, paragraph 13, www.auasb.gov.au.

[vi] Auditing Standard ASA 200, paragraph 13, www.auasb.gov.au.

[vii] Explanatory Guide: Auditor’s Reports, AUASB, February 2010, page 15-16.

[viii] Explanatory Guide: Auditor’s Reports, AUASB, February 2010, page 20.

NSW associations: is Class order 11/01 effective relief from reporting rigour?

Preparing for the audit of a Tier 1 NSW association, we naturally came across Class order 11/01[i]. Without this Order, issued by the Director-General of Office of Fair Trading in May 2011[ii]an association with revenue greater than $250 000 would be required to prepare financial statements ‘in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards[iii]. Instead they can, if they have revenue less than $2 million, choose to follow the less onerous requirements in Schedule B of the Order.

Before accepting an audit engagement an auditor is required by the Australian Auditing Standards[iv] to ‘establish whether the preconditions for an audit are present[v]. This includes determining ‘whether the financial reporting framework to be applied in the preparation of the financial report is acceptable[vi].

If it is acceptable then it becomes the ‘applicable financial reporting framework’, the framework

adopted by management and, where appropriate, those charged with governance in the preparation of the financial report that is acceptable in view of the nature of the entity and the objective of the financial report, or that is required by law or regulation[vii].

Since ‘law or regulation’ is involved, we naturally thought that the requirements of Schedule B formed an acceptable reporting framework. However, after reading Fair Trading’s Regulatory Guide A1[viii], we found that Schedule B is not in fact required but is optional[ix].

Synonyms for ‘required’ are ‘obligatory’, ‘compulsory’, and ‘mandatory’[x], so it is clear that the standard-setters meant that only a legally required reporting framework takes precedence over one chosen to suit ‘the nature of the entity and the objective of the financial report’.

Therefore, since reporting according to Schedule B is not compulsory, the auditor of an association that has followed Schedule B must then assess the acceptability of that framework before they can accept the engagement.

ASA 210 gives an example of ‘the objective of the financial report’ criterion above:

whether it is prepared to meet the common financial needs of a wide range of users or the financial information needs of specific users[xi].

Schedule B doesn’t change the audience for the statements, just what has to be produced and what has to be included. The section headed ‘Why have Class order 11/01?’ makes it clear that the statements are for a ‘wide range of users’. For instance, the Class order

aims to ensure an appropriate level of transparency and accountability for incorporated associations, taking into account likely needs of persons who may wish to utilise the services of an incorporated association or make charitable donations to these entities[xii].

This makes the statements general purpose statements:

Financial reports prepared in accordance with a financial reporting framework designed to meet the common financial needs of a wide range of users are referred to as general purpose reports[xiii].

Is Schedule B an acceptable general purpose framework? Not according to ASA 210. It makes it clear that in Australia only the reporting standards established by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) are acceptable[xiv].

So isn’t the conclusion that we must reach this: either the association ignores the Class Order and follows all the Australian Accounting Standards, or the auditor has to decline the engagement[xv]?

 

 

[i] Financial reporting requirements for a class of Tier 1 associations, 27 May 2011, www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

[ii] Under Section 53(1) of the Associations Incorporation Act 2009, www.legislation.nsw.gov.au

[iii] Section 43(2)

[iv] And there is no question that we have to follow the Australian Auditing Standards: Section 43(3) of the Act mandates that

[v] Auditing Standard ASA 210 Agreeing the Terms of Audit Engagements, paragraph 3, June 2011, www.aasb.gov.au

[vi] ASA 210, paragraph 6

[vii] AuAASB Glossary, www.auasb.gov.au

[viii] Associations Incorporations Act 2009, Regulatory Guide A1, May 2011, Financial Reporting Requirements for a Class of Tier 1 Associations, Registry of Co-operatives & Associations, NSW Fair Trading, NSW Department of Finance & Services, www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

[ix] Regulatory Guide A1, page 7

[x] Thesaurus function in Word 2013

[xi] ASA 210, paragraph A4

[xii] Regulatory Guide A1, page 5

[xiii] ASA 210, paragraph A5

[xiv] ASA 210, paragraph A8

[xv] ASA 210, paragraph 8

General purpose versus special purpose financial statements: not much choice for charities?

Financial statements, type thereof. You, the CEO or director make the decision; you, the auditor, check this decision; you, the ‘stakeholder’, use the result to make judgements about the organisation. Two types only: general purpose and special purpose.

But general purpose versus special purpose is not the decision. That would make it a choice, and it’s not a choice. The type of financial statements is the result of an assessment of whether the organisation is something called a ‘reporting entity’. Reporting entities have to prepare general purpose statements.

Old hat you say; we’ve been doing this for years. Yes we have, and we have been getting it wrong for years. And due to a lack of enforcement, getting away with it for years.

I’ll give you one example. Does the organisation call for donations on its website? And its annual report includes a special purpose statement? Well, according to the standard-setters, this organisation is then saying that there is something in their governing legislation or rules that means that, on demand, they will prepare a report to answer that donor’s questions about the organisation. That’s the corollary of the definition of ‘general purpose financial statements’:

General purpose financial statements are those intended to meet the needs of users who are not in a position to require an entity to prepare reports tailored to their particular information needs[i].

The usual way of making the decision is to assess whether the organisation meets the definition of a ‘reporting entity’:

Reporting entity means an entity in respect of which it is reasonable to expect the existence of users who rely on the entity’s general purpose financial statements for information that will be useful to them for making and evaluating decisions about the allocation of resources….[ii]

So for the organisation calling for donations on its website, doesn’t one end up with the same decision? Donors that could be anywhere in the world; donors mostly having no connection with the organisation other than via the internet – sounds like the epitome of users who have to rely on general purpose statements to me.

If only we could just choose between types of financial statements.

 

P.S.  Business by The Book exists to provide accounting, audit and governance services, for no fee if necessary, to not-for-profits who are themselves serving those who are the least, last and lost of the world.

 

[i] AASB 1053 Application of Tiers of Australian Accounting Standards, June 2010, Appendix A, www.aasb.gov.au

[ii] AASB 1053. Appendix A

The ACNC and right and wrong ways to decide between general purpose and special purpose financial reports

If you are a non-accountant charity CEO or board/committee member (and maybe even if you are an accountant), it would be reasonable for you to turn to your regulator’s website for help with deciding whether general purpose or special purpose financial statements were required for your charity. But at the moment you need to take care: there’s conflicting advice there.

In the third section of this advice, they state very clearly and correctly that the answer depends on whether you are something called a ‘reporting entity’. They then point you to the Australian Accounting Standards Board’s latest definition of ‘reporting entity’, and its guidance for how to decide whether or not you are a reporting entity. All good so far.

But then in the second last section they go and ruin this good advice. Under a heading ‘Deciding between general purpose or (sic) special purpose’, they list the main ‘Positives’ and ‘Negatives’ of each. These may well be the pros and cons, but they should play no part in the decision. It is not a matter of which type of statement gives you the better result, but a question of complying with the law. The law that their Governance Standard 3 requires. The law that was correctly stated in the third section of their advice.   Are you a ‘reporting entity’? If so, you have no choice – you must prepare general purpose financial statements.

The bottom line? I wouldn’t do what the ACNC suggests in their footnote to the table: ‘Make a decision…and get professional advice if you are unsure.’ No, don’t use the table, and if you think you may be eligible for the statements that are ‘quicker and cheaper to prepare’ (one of their ‘Positives’), then I’d jump straight to professional advice. And given that many professionals have got this wrong – see AASB Research Report No. 1be careful how you choose.

Special or general purpose report: don’t ask your users

Well I don’t think they actually asked their users individually, but they certainly thought about them in order to come to the conclusion that ‘there are no users dependent on a general purpose financial report’. I’m talking about the management and auditor of a $1m charity. And it appears from a Google search of the phrase that many others somehow concluded that their current users were similarly not dependent.

‘General purpose financial reports’ require compliance with the Australian Accounting Standards, so this meant that the charity could produce ‘special purpose financial reports.’ Less onerous, but, according to the standard setters, not useful to those who want to make money decisions about that charity.

‘No users’. That’s a bold claim. So if the management of this charity had made a mistake, and there was a user who doesn’t have the ability to ring up that charity and get the financial information that they need, then, at least according to the standard setters, they haven’t reported properly. Or if a new dependent user arises after their survey, the same applies. Silly, you say. I agree, and that’s why the standard setters didn’t say to ask the current users.

The latest definition of ‘reporting entity’ – for that is what determines whether or not you have to prepare general purpose financial statements – says that it is

an entity in respect of which it is reasonable to expect the existence of users who rely on

those kind of statements[i]. ‘Reasonable to expect’: that is, it doesn’t just mean existing users; it includes potential users. So to be able to prepare special purpose financial reports you have to be prepared to tailor a report for anybody in the future who has a legitimate interest in finding out how you had performed. Because you won’t have a general purpose report that you can give them.

For a few of the organisations that use the same phrase as that used by the $1m charity, there is a more charitable explanation. And that is that they thought about both existing and potential users, but then just used words that implied an assessment of the needs of only existing users. To be fair to them, it is not uncommon for my colleagues to recommend that phrase. But I’d maintain that it doesn’t accurately represent what accounting law requires, and the practice should change.

I say ‘a few of the organisations’, for I’ve little doubt that many of the organisations, including the $1m charity, should have concluded otherwise.

Do you need to think again about your decision to say that you are a non-reporting entity?

 

P.S.  Business by The Book exists to provide accounting, audit and governance services, for no fee if necessary, to not-for-profits who are themselves serving those who are the cultural equivalents of the Bible’s fatherless, widows and aliens.

 

[i] AASB 1053, www.aasb.gov.au, Appendix A

Your auditors: before they start, expect this

Did you know that it is not automatic – or, more correctly, it shouldn’t be automatic – that an auditor will say yes to doing an audit? In fact, if you’ve got an auditor who’s been auditing for any time longer than a football match and hasn’t thought about whether – other than because of money, distance or business – they should say yes to an organisation who wants an audit, then I’d suggest you should worry. This is because there are some pretty serious conditions that should be met before they agree to do business. And it’s not unusual for a couple of them to be a challenge.

The first hurdles are in their document called Framework for Assurance Engagements[i]. The annual statutory audit, one type of such ‘assurance engagements’, will normally exhibit the required characteristics to allow the auditor to accept the engagement; however, ‘relevant ethical requirements’ may mean they have to (should) decline. For instance, most people would think that if one of the auditor’s staff – especially in a small firm – is married to one of the directors of the organisation who has asked for an audit, then independence would be violated[ii]. Or if the organisation has complex arrangements overseas and the last time the auditor looked at foreign currency translation was at university, then perhaps ‘professional competence’ wouldn’t get a tick.

Having survived the tests in the Framework, auditors may have to say no to you when they come to apply Auditing Standard ASA 210 Agreeing the Terms of Audit Engagements[iii]. There are two hurdles here: (1) the presence of certain ‘preconditions’ for an audit, and (2) confirming a common understanding between you and the auditor about what is to happen and who is responsible for what.

The first precondition is that the ‘financial reporting framework’ you have chosen is acceptable. For example, if you have chosen to prepare a special purpose report where objectively a general purpose report is required, and the auditor is up-to-date with his reading, then unless you change he would be obliged to decline the engagement.

The second precondition, that you give an acknowledgement of your responsibilities, is not likely to stop the audit if you sign what they ask you to sign. (However, can I suggest that you carefully read this acknowledgement? Two of the things in it are heavy contributors to what they call the ‘audit expectation gap’: first, that the preparation of the financial report – all the statements and the Notes – is your responsibility, not the auditor’s, and second, if you haven’t got the proper internal controls in place, then again that’s your fault, not the auditor’s.)

So when you want an audit by all means ask away, but if the auditor says yes without any investigation, then be concerned.

 

P.S.  Business by The Book exists to provide accounting, audit and governance services, for no fee if necessary, to not-for-profits who are themselves serving those who are the cultural equivalents of the Bible’s fatherless, widows and aliens.

 

[i] Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AuASB), 2010, paragraph 17.

[ii] Independence is so cherished by the accounting profession that they have issued a comprehensive Independence Guide (Joint Accounting Bodies, 2013).

[iii] AuASB, 2011.