How many times have you had an audit concluded and then been just asked by the auditor to ‘sign here’ or sent the accounts in the post ‘for signing’? A lot of auditors miss the importance of communicating the key audit findings through a formal detailed Key Findings letter.
The letter should be a discussion tool outlining how management can (a) achieve real improvements in the business, (b) improve strategy, (c) tighten up risk areas and (d) address weakness in the business.
In truth many auditing firms are just not commercial or fear giving advice, whilst others are just mean with advice expecting the client to pay for it separately. Indeed there isn’t meaningful Key Findings letters produced by many firms, instead a more or less standard ‘tick box’ letter. Yes auditors have to be careful not to overstep their remit as regards the ‘Nature and Scope’ of the audit but by having a full discussion around the audit findings can benefit clients hugely to make commercial and strategic improvements to their business, that will either save costs or generate revenue going forward. At O’KellySutton we have grown our audit practice very nicely by delivering ‘more’ for the clients. The audit should be more than just about the numbers, it should be about supporting clients to build on their strategic vision for the organisation.
Granted audit fees have been under enormous pressure over the last few years and so short cuts are taken at times. Instead of doing less, how about doing more in future and see what rewards it brings on all sides!
Having received new audit clients over the last few years in several sectors including retail/wholesale, charitable/voluntary, e-commerce, property, agriculture, equine, leisure, manufacturing etc one sees what is going on out there first hand and a lot of it is not good from a client perspective. When choosing an audit firm look at the firms experience and see if they can deliver commercial benefits for you. Patrick Sutton, Kildare, Sutton@okellysutton.ie, 045 530777 or 086 2523637