Financial Statement Audit

Updated on April 11, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Financial Statement Audit?

A financial statement audit is defined as an independent examination of the company’s financial statement and its disclosures by auditors. It provides a true and fair view of its financial performance. The auditor ensures that the statements are in accordance with the framework of filing after a thorough check of the statements of the company.

Financial Statement Audit

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The balance sheet, income statement, statement of retained earnings, and cash flow statement are the four major parts of the financial statement audit process. These statements are scrutinized to ensure no material errors are made and are in compliance with filing regulations. Only a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can audit these statements and deem them fit for filing.

Financial Statement Audit Explained

A financial statement audit is the process of scrutinizing the important statement of a company such as the income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet to ensure they are free from material errors and are fit according to the filing regulations or framework.

Let us understand the most important documents an auditor scrutinizes before submitting their financial statement audit report.

These financial statements are the ones often utilized for audit purposes. However, some adjustments might be made to the statements by the company after the finalization of the audit for a better representation of facts in the financial statement audit report.

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Video Explanation of Audited Financial Statements



Below are some of the basic principles governing a financial statement audit process.

  • #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 information.
  • #5 – Documentation – He should document matters relating to the audit as the financial statement audit checklist.
  • #6 – Planning – He should plan his work to conduct an audit effectively and timely. Plans should be based on knowledge of the client’s business.
  • #7 – Audit Evidence – The auditor should obtain sufficient and appropriate audit evidence by performing compliance and substantive procedures. 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 management’s accounting system and related internal controls.
  • #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.

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Let us understand the objectives of a financial statement audit report being prepared by every organization through the discussion below.

  • The objective of a financial statement audit is to enable the auditor to express an opinion on financial statements. The entity’s management prepares an audit.
  • It is essential that financial statements are prepared as per the recognized accounting policies 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 enterprise’s affairs.


Let us understand the different steps in the financial statement audit process through the detailed explanation below.

Auditing Financial Statements Phases

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#1 – Planning & Risk assessment

The initial stage of financial statement audit checklist 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 controls 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, safeguard assets, and ensure 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.


Let us try to understand the concept of financial statement audit opinions with the help of an example.

Let us assume ABC Ltd is a furniture manufacturing company which has engaged an audit firm for the financial audit purpose. So initially the auditor will the objective and scope of the procedure for that organization. They will try to identify the main risk areas and timeline of the audit and gather information about the company operation and accounting and reporting system.

Then they will try to find any kind of misstatement or incomplete transactions which are not satisfactory. For this purpose they may pick up samples of transactions and check them thoroughly for completeness and accuracy.

They also compare the data with current and past data, industry benchmarks or other relevant information to identify unusual trends. They will also interact with third parties like customers, suppliers, lenders, for information and consider management decisions and suggestions regarding any issue.

Finally, they will create a report and give their opinion regarding the true and fair view about the financial condition of the business. This report is valuable for management, and all other stakeholders.


Preparing a fool proof report requires the management to carry out a certain standard of record keeping and consistency throughout the year. Let us understand their responsibilities towards ensuring an up to data financial statement audit report.

  • The management is responsible for maintaining an up-to-date and proper accounting system and preparing financial statements.
  • The auditor is responsible for forming and expressing opinions on the financial statements.
  • The financial statement audit does not relieve the management of its responsibility.


The auditor decides the scope of his audit and the financial statement audit opinions having regard 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.


Let us discuss the importance of such a detailed and a tedious process that companies conduct every single year through the points below.

  • Enhances Qualification 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 not absolute, 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 report provides the user with an audit opinion, stating that financial statements show a true and fair view in all material aspects and are by 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 limitations of the financial statement audit process are as discussed below.

  • The auditor cannot obtain absolute assurance.
  • It is due to the inherent limitations of an audit due to which the auditor obtains persuasive evidence rather than conclusive.
  • It arises from the Nature of financial reportingaudit procedures, and Limitations concerning time and cost.

Due to aforesaid inherent limitations, there is an unavoidable risk that some material misstatements may remain undetected.

Financial Statement Audit Vs Integrated Audit

Both the above concepts are related to external audit procedures done by auditors. However, there are some differences between them as follows:

  • The auditor of the former has the responsibility of identifying areas of misstatement or incompleteness of financial statements and find the reasons behind them, whereas the latter goes beyond financial statements and looks into auditing of the company’s internal control system also.
  • The former verifies whether the financial statements are reported as per the financial standards, which is GAAP or IFRS. But the latter checks the efficiency and effectiveness of the internal control system.
  • The former involves checking the income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement and statement of changes in equity for any misstatement or fraud in the same but the latter concentrates on the type, design and operation of the company and evaluates the procedures for reliability.
  • The report produced by the auditor in case of the former presents the fairness of the financial statements and identify the misstatements, whereas the latter produces report regarding the strength and weakness of the internal controls.

Thus, what kind of audit is required depends on the company the type of industry or products they deal with, the regulator requirements, competition, risk profile, etc. But both are equally important in the financial market.

This article has been a guide to what is Financial Statement Audit. We explain it with example, objectives, benefits, differences with integrated audit & principles. You may learn more about basic accounting from the following articles –

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