Preparing for Your Audit – Practical Tips & Tricks

February 8, 2012

For many, your 2011 financial audit is coming quickly (if it hasn’t already started) and, with that, your friendly Aronson auditors!  While we provide you with a Prepared by Client List (PBC), here are some tips to give you greater insight into what goes on in the minds of those crazy auditors and how you can make the audit process smoother for everybody involved.

  • Auditors love to get all of their information all at once.  They really like walking in that first day of an audit and seeing all of the information pulled and ready in the audit room, rather than piecemeal over a period of time.
  • Having as many documents as possible in MS Word or Excel will make your auditor very happy.  PDF is also acceptable, but remember, when an auditor has to check those numbers, adding up in Excel is much easier than having to get out the old ten-key calculator to add up that PDF!
  • Be ready for the audit.  The scheduled week is not the time to start preparing for the audit.
  • If something that your auditor asks for is included in a folder made up of many documents or papers, put a tab or sticky note where the specific document is that your auditor is looking for.
  • A lot of questions that auditors ask are related to variances from year to year.  If you know that something has changed significantly, have your answers ready.
  • The PBC list is not all inclusive.  There will be additional items needed, so be prepared to supply more information.
  • Auditors are not going to ask for items that they don’t actually need.  Your auditors understand and appreciate that you are busy not only helping them, but also doing your regular tasks for your job.  Wasting your time is not something they want to do, we promise!
  • Sometimes items provided might not be exactly what your auditor is looking for due to differences in terminology or the fact that your auditor may be trying to target a specific population or procedure.  It’s not anyone’s fault, but it might be why you still see it on the open items list.
  • Certain things that you, as the client, are accustomed to may be something the auditor rarely sees or hears about.  If there is confusion as to what’s needed, ask your auditor what the objective is that they are trying to achieve and chances are high that you have insight into a particular report that will provide the information to satisfy the request.
  • Set aside time for your auditors and give them the space they need!  Try to keep your calendar as open as possible during the week of your audit.  Also, set aside a reasonably sized room (usually 3-4 people) and have that room saved for the week.  No one likes to have to move to a new space each day.
  • Auditors work very hard to treat you like you’re their only client, but shockingly, that is not likely the case.  Not getting everything to your audit team in the time that is allotted means they will have to work time in later, around another client’s audit time.  This can be difficult, especially when your audit team might be on separate engagements after your audit.
  • Auditors love hard work and preparation, it’s wired in our audit brains.  We really appreciate when it is done for your audit!

To summarize: delays in receiving requested items or time incurred in helping get a schedule corrected all add up quickly. Your auditor still needs time to actually perform the work required of them. It is important to understand that getting the schedule is just the beginning of the work your auditor needs to do. Being prepared for an audit is one of the best ways to help ensure that the process is a smooth one.