Preparing for an audit can be a daunting process which, when not organised correctly, can make the audit something you may not look forward to every year. However this should not be the case. Our audit team work with our clients to ensure all our audits are very much a collaborative process, and the key to this is in preparation. We work with our clients to establish expectations, both what the clients can expect from us and what we expect in return, all of which is clarified in the planning process. To help explain this further we spoke to Gemma Bradbury and Michael Laws, audit managers, and Hermione Waterfield, audit senior, from our Oxford office to find out their top tips for preparing for a successful audit:
Preparation is key
Gemma: For me one of the most important aspects of preparing for your audit is collating the items requested on the ‘Provided by client’ list in advance. For the audit we will send a list of schedules and documents that we know we will need ahead of the audit. (Of course there will always be additional items requested as the audit work progresses, but the majority of items we need can be predicted). The smoothest and quickest audits are those when the client has collated all of the requested items prior to the audit starting, enabling us to hit the ground running and not have delays whilst we wait for an important schedule that we need to review to be provided.
Hermione: I totally agree. Preparation is key and this starts long before we come to do the audit work. If you think of it like the work carried out by the auditor is a new coat of paint. If the sanding and prep work has not been done before the painting begins, the end result is going to be less than satisfactory! Where the figures in the accounts have been finalised and supporting schedules for each component prepared, the audit process will be smoother, faster, and easier for both you and us.
Keep good records
Hermione: Feeding into preparation being key, ensuring that records are kept in an orderly and organised manner throughout the year is paramount. Documenting processes and checking that these are being followed at regular intervals can help with this. Whether your records are kept on paper or digitally, having a good system will really help you be ready for audit, and should hopefully reduce the stress of being asked for documentation.
Agree a timetable
Michael: Work with us to agree a clear and realistic timetable well in advance. We’re always happy to adjust and amend working schedules to accommodate you and your businesses demands but this is best done in advance of us starting the audit. If a timetable looks too tight, raise this at the planning stage. Having a manageable timetable that meets all deadlines is more important than rushing through the process and being too ambitious.
Remote vs On-Site
Michael: Which is best for your entity will depend on how you operate and what systems and controls are in place. Review the list of documents that we require and decide which would be best reviewed on site, and which can be provided remotely. Drawing up a plan based on this improves the efficiency of the audit and minimises disruption to your finance team.
Provide access to systems or shared drives (if applicable/possible)
Gemma: As more and more entities move towards digital paperless systems, we can often no longer just sift through physical files for the documents we need. However, we still need to be able to access the documents, wherever they are filed. Some clients are happy for us to provide our samples so that they can locate and send copies of the documents to us, but generally it is better for the audit (and less onerous for the client) if we are able to have our own auditor login for their systems or shared drives in order for us to access all the files we require directly.
Michael: Generally doing this helps reduce the number of reports that the client needs to run and send over to us. It also enables samples to be selected remotely, meaning the site visit can be more focused and efficient.
We hope this guidance will help those unsure of how to approach the preparation needed for your audit. If you want to discuss anything in this article further, please contact Gemma, Michael or Hermione, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how our audit team could help you.