Attest services are defined and regulated by various accounting societies, boards, and governmental bodies. I work with clients to determine the level of assurance they need. A company may require an audit or a review to comply with a loan covenant. Conversely, a company without such a loan agreement may choose a compilation.
Audit (attest service)
An Audit is the highest level of assurance. Audited financial statements provide the user with the auditor’s opinion. In an audit, the auditor is required by auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America to obtain an understanding of the entity’s internal control and assess fraud risk. The auditor also is required to corroborate the amounts and disclosures included in the financial statements by obtaining audit evidence through inquiry, physical inspection, observation, third-party confirmations, examination, analytical procedures and other procedures.
Review (attest service)
A Review is less extensive than an audit but more involved than a compilation. A review engagement consists primarily of analytical procedures applied to financial statements, and various inquiries are made of a client’s company management team. If financial statements or supporting information appears inconsistent or is otherwise questionable, the accountant may need to perform additional procedures. Reviewed financial statements must include all necessary footnotes and other disclosures.
Compilation (non-attest service)
According to the new standard compilation of financial statements is not an attest service, accountants present information that is the “representation of management” and express no opinion or assurance regarding the statements. The compilation doesn’t require inquiries of management or analytical procedures. Instead, the accountants apply accounting and financial reporting expertise and a general understanding of the company’s business to assist management in presenting the statements following the applicable financial reporting framework.
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