We believe in high quality audits in fact and perception and will maintain the integrity of our audit process. Our partners stay heavily involved and our engagements are staffed by individuals with the appropriate level of skill and knowledge of our clients’ businesses; and each audit has a suitable level of independent technical oversight. Additionally we will not approve of the use of overly aggressive accounting principles that fail the test of economic reasonableness.
We recognize the benefits of a planned, proactive approach. In that regard, we indentify possible areas of risk that might require special attention. This advance planning also typically results in an efficient audit process. Next, we focus on your financial statements and related accounting records, and perform a top-level study of account fluctuations, relationships and overall operating results. This guides us in developing the scope and emphasis of the audit, including an evaluation of internal controls and related systems.
A review engagement can be a cost effective and less time consuming means of providing some limited assurance on financial statements and is performed under the AICPA’s attestation standards. The review is designed to provide a moderate level of assurance, or negative assurance, of the reliability of financial statements stating that nothing has come to our attention to indicate that the financial information is not presented in conformity with GAAP.
Because the level of assurance provided by a review is lower, less work is required and consequently the cost is often significantly less than an audit. Both review engagements and audits require the financial statements to be prepared in conformity with GAAP but review procedures consist of inquiries and analytical procedures and it is not normally necessary to obtain independent confirmations or apply inspection or observation procedures. However, these types of procedures are not prohibited and can be efficient in some situations.
Agreed Upon Procedures
Agreed-upon procedures engagements are an often misunderstood attestation engagement and are used when a party wishes to gain some assurance over a certain financial process or financial information of another party. Normally the need for this assurance does not require a financial statement audit or review or is outside the scope of an audit or a review.
Agreed-upon procedures are performed in accordance with the AICPA’s attestation standards and therefore require us to meet various attestation standards including independence. We do not perform and audit or a review and we do not provide and opinion or negative assurance, rather our report is in the form of findings based on specific procedures. Additionally, the agreed-upon procedure engagement requires that the specified parties assume responsibility for the sufficiency of the procedures since they best understand their own needs and the use of the report is restricted to the specified parties.
Employee Benefit Plan Audits
With over 300,000 employee benefit plans covering more than 42 million workers, it’s no wonder there is a spotlight on employee benefit plans.
Audits of Employee Benefit Plans have become increasingly complex due to many new regulations and the department of Labor has dramatically stepped up its enforcement activities looking for prohibited transactions, delinquent remittances and other ERISA noncompliance. The price of an employee benefit plan audit is a factor, but quality of the firm and the individuals performing the audit should be the primary factor. A quality audit is a vital protection to the fiduciary and the participants.
One of the most common causes of deficient plan audits is the auditor’s failure to perform tests in areas that are unique to employee benefit plans. A plan auditor should be experienced with benefit plan practices and operations as well as special auditing standards and Department of Labor (DOL) rules applicable to employee benefit plans. To assure quality employee benefit plan audits we dedicate a group of professionals that stay current with all ERISA, DOL, and Social Security Administration regulations and reporting requirements through specialized continuing professional education, DOL and ERISA conferences and other industry programs.