Choosing the right auditor can be a daunting and time-consuming task for your organization. Whether this is your first time seeking an auditor or you have been through the process before, Calvetti Ferguson has compiled key considerations to help you choose the right auditor for this year and years to come.
Independence & Integrity
The most fundamental, yet valuable, quality of an auditor is their integrity. Auditors should act with objectivity, impartiality, and professional skepticism to provide a true outsider’s perspective and opinion on the accuracy of financial statements. An auditor’s integrity, independence, and ethical standards are important to an audit’s overall credibility, which has been shown to reduce a company’s risk to investors.
Experience & Qualifications
An often-overlooked quality of a good auditor is their former industry experience as controllers or chief financial officers. Auditors that have real-world experience in business outside of their public accounting careers have a better understanding of your challenges and concerns because they have sat on the same side of the table as you. They already understand how business works and your industry’s jargon, acronyms, and other nuances, so you can focus on your day job while they conduct the audit. Additionally, finding an auditor who specializes in companies like yours brings added knowledge and expertise to the table. As the auditor sees what challenges other companies in your industry are facing and is working with their clients to solve those challenges, they bring different perspectives to bear on the challenges at hand.
Tangible Questions to Ask
- How many clients in the _____ industry have you worked with?
- Do you have any _____ audit referrals?
- What problems have other clients of yours in the _____ industry dealt with in recent years and how have you helped?
- What industry focus does the audit team have?
Communication & Compatibility
An audit requires much collaboration and communication to be successful, so it is important to have a good working relationship and a sense of compatibility with the auditor. Having a mutual give and take relationship is especially necessary when discrepancies arise so that meaningful conversation can be had and both perspectives can be valued. Beyond the compatibility between the two groups, having an auditor that is available, responsive, and communicative is important for answering questions and addressing concerns effectively. Audits require a lot of engaging conversations, especially in the beginning and finalization stages. An auditor with a plan for communication and tools that will help information be shared securely, timely, and conveniently is important for the audit’s efficiency and timeliness. This communication does not start or stop with fieldwork. A good auditor will meet with you on a regular basis to keep up with current developments in your business and to discuss things going on in business and accounting that are relevant to you.
Tangible Questions to Ask
- Do you have a plan for communication? Are there any technological tools that you use for communication?
- How long should we expect for a reply?
- What is your typical flow of communication with clients throughout an audit?
- In past engagements, how have you communicated any discrepancies or problems that have arisen?
- How often do you meet with clients?
There is a difference between a team that sees itself as merely a service provider, versus one that sees itself as a strategic partner with a valuable perspective for organizational improvement. Their objective, independent perspective along with industry understanding and experience puts them in a place to see strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the organization that might not be as visible to internal management.
At Calvetti Ferguson, we are more than your auditor. We act as trusted business advisors with the experience, energy, and approach to move your business ahead while maintaining high ethical standards and independence. Our partners have first-hand corporate experience as tax directors, controllers, chief financial officers, and vice presidents of finance. We have been on the same side of the table as you, so we understand the challenges you face. Unlike some other firms, our partners are deeply involved and invest significant time and attention into client relationships and understanding your business.