- Intended to provide creditors, investors, and other outside parties with a high level of comfort on the accuracy of financial statements
- CPA issues a formal report that expresses an opinion on whether the financial statements are presented fairly, in all material aspects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework
- Typically appropriate and often required when seeking high levels of financing or outside investors, or when selling a business
The audit is the highest level of assurance service that a CPA performs and is intended to provide a user comfort on the accuracy of the financial statements. The CPA performs procedures in order to obtain “reasonable assurance” (defined as a high but not absolute level of assurance) about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement.
In an audit, your CPA is required to obtain an understanding of your business’s internal control and assess fraud risk. Your CPA is also required to corroborate the amounts and disclosures included in your financial statements by obtaining audit evidence through inquiry, physical inspection, observation, third-party confirmations, examination, analytical procedures and other procedures.
When performing an audit engagement, the CPA is required to determine whether her independence has been impaired. Similar to a review, if her independence has been impaired, the CPA cannot perform the audit engagement.
The CPA will issue a formal report that expresses an opinion on whether the financial statements are presented fairly, in all material aspects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework. In addition, the CPA is required to report to you any significant or material weaknesses in your system of internal control that are identified during the audit. By becoming aware of internal control weaknesses and discussing these with your CPA, you might be able to improve the way you do business.
As the highest level of assurance, an audit typically is appropriate and often required when you’re seeking complex or high levels of financing and credit. An audit also is appropriate if you’re seeking outside investors or preparing to sell or merge with another business.
Consult the following chart for a comparison of financial statement preparation, compilation, review and audit services.