An audit is an examination of a company’s financial statements by an independent accountant. The purpose of the audit is to express an opinion on the fairness of the statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and to provide assurance to creditors, investors, and others that the statements are free of material misstatements. Understanding the role of an audit is the first step to performing an ESG audit.
The most common form of an audit is the financial audit, which examines a company’s accounting practices and records to determine its financial condition. A basic audit seeks to answer three questions:
- whether the numbers in the financial statements are materially correct;
- whether there are any anomalies or evidence of irregularities in transactions recorded by the company; and
- whether the company’s accounting methods are in accordance with GAAP.
The word “audit” can mean a lot of different things. It might refer to an examination or inspection, such as one that is conducted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS audits) in order to determine the accuracy and completeness of your tax return. Or it might be what you did when you checked your bank balance and found out that all your money was gone. In business, there are many types of audits: financial audits, operational audits for compliance with laws and regulations, IT system security audits, etc. There are also dozens of other types of audit-like processes where businesses review their systems and procedures on an ongoing basis so they can find ways to improve their performance over time. So how do we know which type we should use when we need it?
- What is the definition of an Audit?
- What is an auditor?
- What are audit programs?
- What is the auditing process?
- What are the 3 main types of audits?
- 9 different types of audit
- What is an Internal Audit?
- What is an External Audit?
- What is a Tax Audit?
- What is a Financial Audit?
- What is an Operational Audit?
- What is a Compliance Audit?
- What is an Information System Audit?
- What is a Payroll Audit?
- What is an IT Audit?
- What are the 7 audit procedures?
- What is Audit Evidence?
- What is Evidence?
- What is the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence?
- What is an Audit Opinion?
- What is an unqualified opinion?
- What is a qualified opinion?
- What is a negative opinion?
- What is a disclaimer?
- What is adverse opinion?
- What are financial statements?
- What is an Audit Committee?
- Caveats, disclaimers, internal audits & external audits
What is the definition of an Audit?
The definition of an audit from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: “a systematic and independent examination of financial statements by someone other than the person who prepared them in order to ascertain their accuracy and completeness.” In a nutshell, an audit is an evaluation of a company’s financial statement by an independent third party in order to determine if it is accurate and complete. The goal of an audit is to provide assurance to investors, creditors, and other stakeholders that the financial statement is a true reflection of the company’s financial position.
What is an auditor?
An auditor is someone who conducts an audit. He or she may be an employee of the accounting firm that was hired by the company to conduct the audit, or he or she may be an independent auditor who is not affiliated with the company. In order to become a licensed CPA (certified public accountant), you must pass an exam that tests your knowledge of auditing.
What are audit programs?
An audit program is a structured approach for gaining evidence and evaluating it objectively to reach a conclusion about the effectiveness of controls in place at the time and provide reasonable assurance that financial statements will be free from material misstatement.
What is the auditing process?
The audit process begins with the selection of financial statements to be audited. The auditor then determines the appropriate audit procedures that will be used to gather sufficient appropriate evidence in order to provide an opinion on the financial statements under review.
Then, the auditor performs those procedures and gathers that evidence. After the audit is completed, the auditor prepares and issues an opinion on the financial statements.
The final step is the auditor’s report, which is issued after the work on the audit is complete. It either contains an unqualified opinion of compliance with accounting standards or includes a list of findings indicating where the company’s financial statements are not in compliance with accounting standards. It is the auditor’s responsibility to issue this report in a timely fashion after his or her work on the audit has been completed and to communicate any significant findings to the organization’s management.
What are the 3 main types of audits?
There are three main types of audits: financial statement audits, compliance audits, and performance audits.
- A financial statement audit is an examination of a company’s financial statements, including an assessment of the adequacy of accounting principles used and the presentation of financial information.
- A compliance audit is an examination of a company’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
- A performance audit is an examination of a company’s efficiency, effectiveness, and economy in carrying out its operations. It also includes an assessment of the systems and controls that support those operations.
9 different types of audit
- Internal audit
- External Audit
- Tax audit
- Financial audit
- Operational audit
- Compliance audit
- Information system audit
- Payroll audit
- IT audit
There you have it, a list of the different types of audit. As you can see, there are many different types of audit and each one serves a specific purpose. So whether you’re an individual or an organization, it’s important to understand the different types of audit and what each one entails.
What is an Internal Audit?
Internal audit is the assessment of a company’s internal control system. Internal auditing aims to provide improved organizational and financial performance by making recommendations to an organization’s management for action that can reduce financial loss, prevent errors or fraud, and improve effectiveness of operations.
What is an External Audit?
An external audit is done with an intention to report on the fairness with which the financial statements presents the company’s position and operations. The main difference between internal and external audit is that in external audit, the auditor is hired by someone outside the company such as the shareholders.
What is a Tax Audit?
A tax audit is an examination of an individual or organization’s tax returns by a revenue authority to verify the accuracy of the return and to ensure that the correct taxes have been paid.
What is a Financial Audit?
The purpose of financial audit is to provide independent assurance to the shareholders and management of an organization that its financial statements are fairly stated in all material respects.
What is an Operational Audit?
An operational audit is a periodic examination of the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s operations. The objectives of operational audits generally include improving organizational performance, reducing costs, and mitigating risks.
What is a Compliance Audit?
A compliance audit assesses an organization’s compliance with specific laws, regulations, and policies.
What is an Information System Audit?
An information system audit evaluates the adequacy of an organization’s information security controls and seeks to identify any deficiencies that could lead to data loss or unauthorized access.
What is a Payroll Audit?
A payroll audit is conducted to examine all or part of an organization’s payroll records and support documentation to ensure compliance with various laws and regulations (e.g., income and employment tax) and contractual obligations.
What is an IT Audit?
Information Technology (IT) audit assesses the controls in place that protect networked computer systems, software applications, and data. IT audits are often conducted as part of an organization’s overall risk management program.
What are the 7 audit procedures?
Audit procedures to obtain audit evidence can include inspection, observation, confirmation, recalculation, reperformance, and analytical procedures, often in some combination, in addition to inquiry.
Inspection: The physical examination of assets, documents, and records.
Observation: The review of activities to obtain an understanding of the entity’s business processes and internal control.
Confirmation: The obtaining of written or oral representations from third parties regarding transactions and balances.
Recalculation: The verification of mathematical accuracy of amounts.
Reperformance: The observation or testing of details, activities, or processed to determine whether characteristics conform to predetermined specifications.
Analytical procedures: The use of sampling and other statistical methods to test account balances and disclosures for reasonableness. Inquiry: Requesting information by asking the entity’s personnel questions about their knowledge of client business activities.
Inquiry: Requesting and collecting information by asking the entity’s personnel questions about their knowledge of client business activities. This is generally limited to an examination of documents and records.
What is Audit Evidence?
It refers to the information used by the auditor to arrive at an opinion on the financial statements. The types of evidence that may be obtained in an audit include documentary evidence, physical evidence, and oral evidence.
What is Evidence?
Evidence is a means of persuading an auditor that a fact or condition exists.
What is the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence?
Direct evidence is a testimony from a credible witness who saw something happen, while circumstantial evidence comes from various facts and circumstances.
What is an Audit Opinion?
It is a conclusion drawn by the auditor about the financial statements. An auditor’s report must state whether the financial statements are presented in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and whether the financial statements are free of material misstatements. The auditor’s opinion also includes a statement about the financial statement’s compliance with statutory or regulatory requirements, if any. There are fours types of opinions: unqualified, qualified, adverse, and disclaimer.
What is an unqualified opinion?
An unqualified opinion is the auditor’s conclusion that the financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, on the basis of the information available to the auditor.
The term “unqualified” means that there are no restrictions on use of the financials by lenders or investors. According to the Auditing Standards Board, an unqualified opinion “indicates that the financial statements conform to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and that the auditor has obtained sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for his or her opinion.”
What is a qualified opinion?
A qualified audit opinion is an auditor’s conclusion that the financial statements are not presented fairly, in all material respects, on the basis of the information available to the auditor.
The reasons for a qualified opinion might be that the auditor has not been able to obtain sufficient evidence to express an opinion on all aspects of the financial statements or because the auditor has found major problems with the entity’s internal control over financial reporting.
What is a negative opinion?
A qualified or disclaimed opinion is called a negative opinion. This opinion could also be qualified if the auditor has not obtained sufficient evidence to conclude that there are no uncorrected material misstatements in asset, liability, equity, revenue and expense accounts but found major problems with the entity’s internal control over financial reporting.
What is a disclaimer?
A disclaimer is a type of qualified opinion in which, despite the auditor’s expression of doubt about an assertion made or reported by management, no alternative expressed conclusion can be given. If the auditors have been unable to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence, then they will disclaim an opinion on the financial statements.
What is adverse opinion?
An adverse opinion is a type of negative opinion in which the auditor concludes that the financial statements are not presented fairly, in all material respects, on the basis of the information available to the auditor. The adverse opinion might be due to such factors as unadjusted misstatements, improper accounting principles, or inadequate disclosure.
According to the Financial Accounting Standards Board, an adverse opinion is “an auditor’s opinion that the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, on the basis of the information available to the auditor, but not in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).”
What are financial statements?
Financial statements are a company’s official record of its financial position, performance, and cash flow. These include, but are not limited to, a company’s income statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flows. These reports are meant to show how profitable a company is each year by providing an overview of what it owns and owes, as well as its plans for the future. Financial statements may be presented in one or more formats depending on the auditing standards used.
In certain cases, auditors will issue a qualified opinion on a company’s financial statements. This usually happens when the auditor cannot express an opinion on certain aspects of the financials due to a lack of evidence or because of significant problems with the company’s internal controls over financial reporting. When this occurs, it is considered to be a red flag for investors and lenders.
What is an Audit Committee?
An audit committee is a committee of the board of directors of a company that is responsible for overseeing the company’s financial reporting and internal control systems. The audit committee typically consists of independent directors and provides a forum for discussion of internal controls and financial reporting with management, the internal auditors, and the independent attestors.
Caveats, disclaimers, internal audits & external audits
At ESG | The Report, we believe that we can help make the world a more sustainable place through the power of education. We have covered many topics in this article and want to be clear that any reference to, or mention of external auditor vs external auditors, external audits performed via an audit report, internal auditor vs consultant auditors, external audit performed by fair and accurate representation, income statement of a company’s financial records through accounting processes, forensic audits by an audit team, corporate governance and financial data vs a cash flow statement, publicly traded companies and tax fraud, tax errors from performs audits, verify conformance, a management teams legal requirement of an objective examination, objective evidence vs method to obtain evidence, project manager and the company’s financials, chartered accountants, the key difference between accurate representation and audit results in the context of this article is purely for informational purposes and not to be misconstrued as investment or any other legal advice or an endorsement of any particular company or service. Neither ESG | The Report, it’s contributors or their respective companies or any of its members gives any warranty with respect to the information herein, and shall have no responsibility for any decisions made, or action taken or not taken which relates to matters covered by ESG | The Report. Thank you for reading, and we hope that you found this article useful in your quest to understand ESG and sustainable business practices. We look forward to living in a sustainable world.
Dean Emerick is a curator on sustainability issues with ESG The Report, an online resource for SMEs and Investment professionals focusing on ESG principles. Their primary goal is to help middle-market companies automate Impact Reporting with ESG Software. Leveraging the power of AI, machine learning, and AWS to transition to a sustainable business model. Serving clients in the United States, Canada, UK, Europe, and the global community. If you want to get started, don’t forget to Get the Checklist! ✅