What is External Audit?
External Audit is defined as the audit of the financial records of the company in which independent auditors perform the task of examining validity of financial records of the company carefully in order to find out if there is any misstatement in the records due to fraud, error or embezzlement and then reporting the same to the stakeholders of the company.
The objective of the external audit includes the determination of the completeness and accuracy of the accounting records of the client, to ensure that the records of the clients are prepared as per the accounting framework which applies to them and to ensure that the financial statements of the client present the true and fair results and the financial position.
Example of External Audit
Company XYZ ltd manufactures the garments and is listed as a publicly-traded companyPublicly-traded CompanyPublicly Traded Companies, also called Publicly Listed Companies, are the Companies which list their shares on the public stock exchange allowing the trading of shares to the common public. It means that anybody can sell or buy these companies’ shares from the open market., i.e., sell their shares to the public. The company wants to know whether they are liable to get their financial statements audited by the external auditor or not?
As per the law, all the company publicly traded businesses or the corporations which sell their shares to the public are legally required to get their financial statements audited by the external auditor. The objective includes the determination of the completeness and accuracy of the accounting records of the client, to ensure that the records of the clients are prepared as per the accounting framework and to ensure that the financial statements of the client present the true and fair financial position. So the company will appoint the auditor who will conduct the external audit of the company and give its audit report in writing, which will be based on the various evidence and information gathered on the true and fair view of the financial statements provided to him to the concerned parties.
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Roles & Responsibilities of an External Audit
- The main responsibility is to verify the general ledger of the company and make all other essential inquiries from the management of the company. It helps to determine the real picture of the company’s market situation and the financial situation, which further provides the basis for managerial decisions.
- Examine the validity of financial records to find out if there is any misstatement in the company’s record because of fraud, error, or embezzlementEmbezzlementEmbezzlement refers to the act of secretly taking, withholding, or misappropriating money or other asset that is kept, maintained, or placed under an individual's responsibility by the company for which he or she works.. So, it increases the authenticity and credibility of financial statements as the financial statements of the company.
- If there are errors in the accountingErrors In The AccountingAccounting errors refer to the typical mistakes made unintentionally while recording and posting accounting entries. These mistakes should not be considered fraudulent behaviour first-hand as this can happen with anyone and by anyone. process of the company, then it may prohibit the owner of the company is taking the decisions which are best for the company. An audit helps in overcoming this problem to a great extent as the procedures in the audit are designed in such a way that they help in detecting the errors in the system and the other fraudulent activity. The audits also ensure the recording of accounting transactions as per the generally accepted accounting principleGenerally Accepted Accounting PrincipleGenerally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are the minimum standards and uniform guidelines for the accounting and reporting. These standards prohibit firms from engaging in unethical business activities and enable for a more accurate comparison of financial reports to investors.. It helps the owner of the business to cover themselves when it comes to following the different rules and regulations which the registered entity needs to follow.
Limitations of External Audit
- The audit is conducted by reviewing the sample data of the company, which the auditor thinks is material for his examination. An auditor does not assess and review all the transactions which occurred in the company. Thus, he merely expresses his audit opinion on the financial statements and data based on the sample data provided to him. So this does not give the total assurance about the financial position of the company.
- Expenses involved in conducting an audit may be very high.
- In all stages of the accounting, from preparation to finalizing the financial statements and for expressing the audit opinion, there is the involvement of the humans and thus making it prone to the error. Also, if there is a lack of knowledge or experience of an auditorAuditorAn auditor is a professional appointed by an enterprise for an independent analysis of their accounting records and financial statements. An auditor issues a report about the accuracy and reliability of financial statements based on the country's local operating laws. in the relevant field, then the purpose of the audit will not solve.
- The main purpose for which the external audit is conducted includes the determination of the completeness and accuracy of the accounting records of the client, to ensure that the records of the clients are prepared as per the accounting framework which applies to them and to ensure that the financial statements of the client present the true and fair results and the financial position. A statutory auditor can ask for the company’s financial books, records, or information in relation to that for which the management cannot deny him.
- After conducting the audit and gathering necessary information, the external auditor is supposed to give its audit reportAudit ReportAn audit report is a document prepared by an external auditor at the end of the auditing process that consolidates all of his findings and observations about a company's financial statements. in writing, which will be based on the various evidence and data collected on the true and fair view of the financial statements provided to him to the concerned parties.
- Most commonly, an external audit is intended to get the certification of financial statements of the company. Certain investors and the lenders require this certification for their analysis. Also, all publicly traded businesses or the corporations which sell their shares to the public are legally required to get their financial statements audited and get this certification.
From the above, it can be concluded that external audit is one of the main types of audits in which auditors work over the accounting books, purchasing records, inventory, and other financial reportsFinancial ReportsFinancial Reporting is the process of disclosing all the relevant financial information of a business for a particular accounting period. These reports are used by the stakeholders (investors, creditors/ bankers, public, regulatory agencies, and government) to make investing and other relevant decisions. to check that the company is functioning in the right manner. They do audit planning and work based on that. They also determine whether the company following GAAP or not. They perform the test and then submit a detailed report to the concerned persons. It conducted with the purpose is to gather different information so that the auditor can give his opinion on the true and fair view of the company’s financial position as on the balance sheet date. External audit increases the authenticity and credibility of financial statementsFinancial StatementsFinancial statements are written reports prepared by a company's management to present the company's financial affairs over a given period (quarter, six monthly or yearly). These statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flows, and Shareholders Equity Statement, must be prepared in accordance with prescribed and standardized accounting standards to ensure uniformity in reporting at all levels. as the financial statements of the company are being verified by an independent external party.
This article has been a guide to what is External Audit and its definition. Here we discuss the roles and responsibilities of an external audit along with examples, limitations, etc. You can learn more about accounting from following articles –