Auditing financial statement analysis is probably not the most important thing at the moment for executives of growing companies. Finally, you also need to grow sales, manage day-to-day operations, and navigate a highly volatile market.
But audit day will eventually come, and when that time comes, you need to be prepared. However, it is also possible to raise external funding or sell the business at some point. Still, the thought of an outside party scrutinizing your book, especially if it’s your first review, can be terrifying, to say the least. Fortunately, as we’ll see later, audits don’t have to be as painful or overwhelming as some might think. So let’s take a look at why your business needs a statutory audit, what you need to know about the process, and how best to prepare for it.
What Is a Financial Statement Audit?
An audit is an examination by an external independent auditor of the many factors, data points, and processes that affect a company’s financial statements analyses, such as the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, footnotes, and disclosures.
But that doesn’t mean your assets, liabilities, and cash are the protagonists. Instead, auditors examine the factors driving these key areas, review the organization’s internal controls and processes, and report their findings.
Audit procedures may vary depending on a company’s industry and accounting practices. However, auditors typically perform comprehensive financial analyses and operational audits, and risk assessments, reviewing specific transactions and underlying data as appropriate. Sometimes it focuses on areas prone to error or fraud, but in many cases, it is just a sample review of records.
Once the audit is complete, the auditor will provide a comprehensive report and determine whether the Company’s reports contain accurate financial information and comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Create a final opinion. Financial analysis reports typically fall into one of four categories:
1. Clean Report:
The auditor believes the financial statements are satisfactory and the Company is in full compliance with her GAAP.
2. Eligible Reports:
If the Company is not fully compliant with its GAAP, the auditor will provide a qualified opinion and list areas for improvement.
3. Disclaimer Report:
If the firm is unable or unwilling to provide the auditor with full access to data or to adequately answer questions, the auditor should address the situation rather than provide a financial assessment.
4. Negative Reports:
The auditor has found material misconduct in our financials, and we are not in compliance with her GAAP. Needless to say, negative opinion is bad news.
When Is An Audit Required?
Small businesses can go years without auditing their financial statements analysis. However, there are two common situations for final exams.
Look For External Funding.
External financing is always essential for a company to be able to grow. Whether you’re looking to raise debt through a loan or suing an investment from a PE or VC firm, you’ll need to provide an audited financial analysis. In most cases, the funder will set specific terms for the trial, including a timeline for completion.
Strategy For The Future
Even if you don’t have an immediate financial need, completing an audit is the first step in laying the foundation for your future, including a significant expansion, IPO, or virtually any other exit strategy. Whatever the reason, examining financial reports can help you make better decisions about your future trading options.
What Are The Benefits Of A Financial Statement Analysis?
For most companies, the first audit comes from an external need. However, the results are often useful beyond the direct purpose of the audit. Depending on the outcome, the review process has some general advantages.
Trust Financial Reports:
Providing reasonable assurance of financial accuracy and integrity enables interested parties to make informed business decisions without fear of material misstatements, whether intentional or accidental. You can do that.
Improved Access To Capital:
A good business model and stable income are the first steps to secure loans and investments. However, demonstrating robust accounting controls and sound financial standing will give lenders and investors more confidence in offering favorable business terms.
Improved Accounting Management:
It’s not fun to know that your internal accounting is out of date, but it can be a way to troubleshoot problems. Better financial analysis controls make your business stronger and more resilient.
Business Process Optimization:
Audits also help find gaps in internal processes. Some of these are highlighted in the audit report, but more is often revealed during the preparation phase. The delays and friction points your team encounters as they document everything, review records, and compile data can represent business processes that can be improved.
The Affiliation of Certified Extortion Inspectors gauges that the worldwide fetched of working environment extortion surpasses $3.6 billion yearly. We hope your Company is not included in this statistic, but audits can help uncover financial improprieties that may have slipped through your Company’s internal controls.
Are there any downsides to financial statement audits?
Financial analysis is generally positive for companies. They either show that things are being done right or provide clear pointers to corrective action. However, there are some drawbacks to consider.
Audit reports can confirm the accuracy of a company’s accounting practices, but it is impossible for auditors to examine every transaction and financial analysis record. So mistakes can still leak through.
Depending on the details, a small business financial statement analysis could cost him $20,000 or more. To make matters worse, prices can be six or seven figures for large companies. While this is an important step, companies should weigh the costs against the potential benefits of auditing.
Financial analysis is very labor intensive. Your Company’s main accountant will basically have a new full-time job for a few months. Other departments of the accounting team also need to support research and data collection throughout the process.
What Should Be Considered When Hiring An Audit Firm?
With 88% of audits of large publicly traded US companies performed by the Big 4, large companies have limited options when choosing an accounting firm. However, small businesses have a wide range of options, including full-service accounting firms and CPAs.
Before choosing an accounting firm, we encourage you to ask yourself these key questions:
- How experienced is the Company working with companies of similar size in your industry?
- What is the Company’s reputation? Have you recently undergone a regulatory review?
- Does it stand out from its competitors in some way?
- How much time and attention can they devote to your business?
- If your Company spans multiple jurisdictions, can you collaborate effectively with colleagues in other locations?
- What plans do you have in place to resolve any disagreements regarding policies or procedures that may arise during the exam?
- How do you keep the Company’s management and board informed of changes in accounting standards?
- Does the Company have potential conflicts of interest that prevent it from maintaining independence and objectivity?
- What is the salary for each class of staff you work with?
Common Pitfalls In First-Time Financial Audits
Like most complex procedures, the financial statement analysis process is subject to errors, errors, and omissions, including:
Inadequate Documentation And Records:
Serious omissions in documents and records can cause problems during the exam. Even if a company’s financial analysis is accurate, it still needs supporting data to prove it.
Unclear Segregation Of Duties:
Employees can fill multiple roles in a startup or a small, lean, full-fledged company. While this makes operational sense, it often leads to poor accounting controls. In this case, the reviewer may wish to perform more extensive testing to review her support document.
During an audit, the accounting team must balance ongoing accounting work with providing information to the auditor. An understaffed or unprepared team can delay not only normal accounting functions but the audit process itself.
How To Prepare For A Financial Statement Audit
Final testing is a complex and expensive process. However, good preparation can minimize the burden on organizations and employees. Address the following areas early to ensure a smooth financial review.
Organizational Engagement Plan
Management should give priority to auditing all relevant departments. To ensure a balance between normal business operations and an efficient flow of the review process, appoint a team member to act as the primary point of contact for reviewers. This person should be working full-time on the project and forward all inquiries to the appropriate internal contact.
Collect Accounting Records
Before starting an audit, make sure you have all financial records and audit evidence ready, such as bank statements, account reconciliations, and clean ledgers. If you need information from other companies. B. Customer Debtor Data. Please prepare as soon as possible. There is no need to look for information after the examiner is already at the exam table.
Understand The Financial Audit Process
It is important to have people on the team who are at least familiar with auditing standards and processes. Reviewers will never work against you. Reviewers are neutral in nature. But navigating the process the first time can be difficult. Doing this without experience can lead to additional expense, frustration, and bad audit reports.
Improve Your Accounting Process
Examiners don’t just examine documents. They also examine accounting processes. Therefore, document your system and controls as thoroughly as possible. This step also exposes deficiencies in GAAP compliance and helps reduce surprises that can occur during the audit process.
Develop A System For Data Sharing
They provide auditors with a wealth of information throughout the financial analysis process. This means sharing accounting records, contracts, vendor agreements, internal documents, and more. Before you start your exam, set up a shared drive and establish a structure to keep your information organized and easily accessible.
Consider Using An Outside Consultant.
If you’re new to auditing, you probably haven’t set up an internal auditor or an audit committee yet. Even so, working with an outside accounting consultant is still very beneficial. They know the right questions to ask the examiner and can help answer them. You can also act on behalf of the Company with your own best interests in mind. Of course, in some situations, it feels like manna from heaven.