What is the Financial Statement Audit?
Financial Statement audit is defined as an independent examination of the company’s financial statement and its disclosures by auditors and provides with a true and fair view of its financial performance.
Top Financial Statements to Audit
- Income Statement: This is the statement of the financial performance of a companyFinancial Performance Of A CompanyRatio analysis is the quantitative interpretation of the company's financial performance. It provides valuable information about the organization's profitability, solvency, operational efficiency and liquidity positions as represented by the financial statements. over a specific accounting period. It shows revenue and expenses incurred through operating and non-operating activities as well as net profit or loss incurred during this period.
- Balance Sheet: This is a statement of the financial positionStatement Of The Financial PositionStatement of Financial Position represents the current financial status of an entity in terms of assets and liabilities. This statement is used by the stakeholders and shareholders as it affects their investing decisions. of the company at a specific point in time. It is done by detailing the assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity to give an idea of what the company owns along with the liabilities. The balance sheet is prepared based on the idea that Assets = Liabilities + Shareholders’ Equity.
- Cash Flow Statement: This is a statement of the cash and cash equivalents received Cash And Cash Equivalents Received Cash and Cash Equivalents are assets that are short-term and highly liquid investments that can be readily converted into cash and have a low risk of price fluctuation. Cash and paper money, US Treasury bills, undeposited receipts, and Money Market funds are its examples. They are normally found as a line item on the top of the balance sheet asset. and released by the company during a specific accounting period.
These financial statements are the ones often utilized for audit purposesFor Audit PurposesThe primary purpose of an audit is to conduct an independent and unbiased verification of all financial and non-financial material information to ensure that it is in line with what the management has reported.. However, some adjustments might be made to the statements by the company after the finalization of the audit for a better representation of facts.
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Objectives of Financial Statement Audit
The objectives of a Financial Statement Audit-
- The objective of a financial statementObjective Of A Financial StatementThe main objective of the financial statement analysis for any company is to provide the necessary data required by the financial statement users for the informative decision-making, assessing the company's current and past performance, predicting business success or failure, etc. audit is to enable the auditor to express an opinion on financial statements Audit prepared by the management of the entity.
- For this, it is essential that financial statements are prepared as per the recognized accounting policiesRecognized Accounting PoliciesAccounting policies refer to the framework or procedure followed by the management for bookkeeping and preparation of the financial statements. It involves accounting methods and practices determined at the corporate level. and practice and relevant statutory requirements, and they should disclose all material matters.
- However, his opinion does not constitute an assurance as to the future viability of the enterprise or the efficiency or effectiveness with which its management has conducted the affairs of the enterprise.
Phases of an Auditing Financial Statements
Let’s discuss the following phases.
#1 – Planning & Risk assessment
It is the initial stage, which involves putting together an audit team and laying down general guidelines for effectively carrying out an audit. The next step is to determine any risks that could lead to material errors in the statements. Identifying such risks requires the auditor to have a thorough knowledge of the industry and business environment in which the company operates.
#2 – Internal Controls Testing
This stage involves a critical analysis of internal controlsInternal ControlsInternal control in accounting refers to the process by which a company implements various rules, policies, or procedures to ensure the accuracy of accounting and finance information, safeguard the various assets of the business, promote accountability in the business, and prevent the occurrence of frauds in the company. adopted by a company and their level of efficacy in eliminating any possibility of material misstatements in financial statements. These internal controls could include automated systems and processes employed by a company to ensure higher operational efficiency, safeguarding of assets, and making sure that all transactions are accurately reported.
#3 – Substantive Testing
At this stage, the auditor looks for substantial evidence and cross-verification of facts and figures reported in the statements which might include the following:
- Physical inspection of assets, if required.
- Cross-checking recorded figures in statements against actual documents and records with the company;
- Third-party or any external confirmations of financial transactions and their details reported by the company; This often includes an independent verification of such statements from the banks and any commercial entities a company is engaged in business with.
Responsibility for Financial Statements Audit
Below are the Responsibility for the financial statements-
- The management is responsible for maintaining an up to date and proper accounting system and finally to prepare financial statements.
- The auditor is responsible for forming and expressing an opinion on the 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..
- The audit of the financial statement does not relieve the management of its responsibility.
Scope of a Financial Statement Audit
The auditor decides the scope of his audit having regards to;
- The requirement of the relevant legislation
- The pronouncements of the Institute
- Terms of engagement
However, the terms of engagement cannot supersede the pronouncement of the institute or the provisions of relevant legislation.
- Enhances Qualify of Business Process – A rigorous audit process may also identify areas where management may improve their controls or processes, further adding value to the company by enhancing the quality of its business processes.
- Assurance to Investors – An audited financial statement provides a high, but the not absolute, level of assurance that the amounts included in the company’s financial statements and notes to accounts (disclosures) are free from any material misstatement.
- True and Fair View – An unqualified (“clean”) 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. provides the user with an audit opinion, which states that financial statements are showing a true and fair view in all material aspects and are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
- Provides Consistency – Financial statements Audit provides a level of consistency in financial reporting that users of the financial statements can rely on when analyzing different companies and decision making.
- The auditor cannot obtain absolute assurance.
- It is due to the inherent limitations of an audit due to which 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. obtains persuasive evidence rather than conclusive.
- It arises from the Nature of financial reportingFinancial ReportingFinancial 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. , Nature of audit proceduresNature Of Audit ProceduresAudit Procedures are steps performed by auditors to get evidence regarding the quality of the financial information provided by the management of a company. It enables them to form an opinion on financial statements and ensure whether they reflect the true and fair view or not. , and Limitations concerning time and cost.
Due to aforesaid inherent limitations, there is an unavoidable risk that some material misstatements may remain undetected.
Basic Principles Governing a Financial Statement Audit
Below are some of the basic principles governing a financial statement audit.
- #1 – Integrity, Objectivity, and Independence – The auditor should be straightforward, honest, and sincere in his professional work. He should be fair and must not be biased.
- #2 – Confidentiality – He should maintain the confidentiality of information acquired during his work and not disclose any such information to a third party.
- #3 – Skill and Competence – He should perform work with due professional care. The audit should be performed by persons having adequate training, experience, and competence.
- #4 – Work Performed by Others – The auditor can delegate work to assistants or use work performed by other auditors and experts. But he will continue to be responsible for his opinion on financial informationFinancial InformationFinancial Information refers to the summarized data of monetary transactions that is helpful to investors in understanding company’s profitability, their assets, and growth prospects. Financial Data about individuals like past Months Bank Statement, Tax return receipts helps banks to understand customer’s credit quality, repayment capacity etc..
- #5 – Documentation – He should document matters relating to the audit.
- #6 – Planning – He should plan his work to conduct an audit in an effective and timely manner. Plans should be based on knowledge of the client’s business.
- #7 – Audit Evidence – The auditor should obtain sufficient and appropriate audit evidenceAudit EvidenceAudit evidence is information gathered by auditors during the course of an audit, whether internal, statutory, or otherwise. These facts serve as the foundation for the opinion in the audit report. by performing compliance and substantive proceduresSubstantive ProceduresSubstantive procedures are methods designed by an auditor to evaluate a company's financial statements, which require an auditor to create conclusive evidence for verifying the completeness, accuracy, existence, occurrence, measurement, and valuation of the business's financial records.. Evidence enables the auditor to draw reasonable conclusions.
- #8 – Accounting System and Internal Control – Internal control system ensures that the accounting system is adequate and that all the accounting information has been duly recorded. The auditor should understand the accounting systemAccounting SystemAccounting systems are used by organizations to record financial information such as income, expenses, and other accounting activities. They serve as a key tool for monitoring and tracking the company's performance and ensuring the smooth operation of the firm. and related internal controls adopted by the management.
- #9 – Audit Conclusions and Reporting – The auditor should review and assess the conclusions drawn from the audit evidence obtained through the performance of procedures. The audit report should contain a clear written expression of opinion on the financial statements.
This article has been a guide to the Financial Statement Audit. Here we discuss the meaning of Financial Statement Audit, its importance Objectives, and Scope of the Audit and principles governing the Audit. You may learn more about basic accounting from the following articles –