Audits are like yearly medical check-ups — you probably don’t look forward to them, but you (and your company) are healthier for them in the long run. When you are choosing the doctor who performs that annual appointment, you look for someone who will listen to your concerns, doesn’t judge you when you have to say you drink more than one beer in a week, and encourages you to hit the gym even when you don’t feel like it. The right doctor is one that you trust to make decisions about your health.
An auditing firm needs to be chosen with similar care. This is the team of auditors who will find all the dirty details of your financials and operations. When things get stressful, and you start experiencing pressure or fatigue, you are going to want a firm compatible to your ways of working. The team should be able to do its job while being reassuring and honest with you.
Follow these tips for discovering your perfect auditing firm match:
- Do your research. Looking into your options. You should consider the size of your own company, then contact a firm of a size you are most comfortable with. If you are a large company, you will probably need the resources and manpower of one of the major four auditing firms. If you are smaller, you can go with a smaller firm of independent CPAs. Regardless of size and other considerations, make sure to exhaust your options.
- Meet in person. If possible, you’ll want to go with a local firm so you can meet in person. Similar to a job interview, this ensures the auditing team is both competent and a good culture fit. If you get a sense that the team would be terrible with communication or would falter in a chaotic environment, then steer clear of this firm. It takes five minutes of face-to-face conversation to get a good idea of who a person is and how he or she works, compared to endless emails or even lengthy phone calls. You’ll want a team that complements your existing workplace culture when the going gets tough.
- Seek industry expertise. You want an auditing firm with experience specific to your industry. A team that has handled the financials of your business type in the past will have the knowledge for anticipating what your audit will look like and the wherewithal to take on anything unexpected. Always ask for proof of this experience and ask for particular anecdotes about why they’ve chosen this industry to work within. The firm’s answers should help you see how deep their understanding of your company is.
After you’ve researched different firms, met in person, asked your questions, and found an industry audit expert, you should also watch for certain indicators of a good firm:
- Payment options. You will need to factor in how you’ll be paying for an auditing service. Look at pricing structure. Does the firm charge by the hour? By the project? Determine which fits your organization best.
- Communication skills. A transparent auditing firm will be upfront with you about added costs, issues that arise, and how to resolve any problems. Communicating openly about these things throughout the process, and setting up methods for doing so, should be a standard, not a perk, of an auditing firm.
- Reputation and peer review. The auditing industry isn’t terribly large, so reputations are well-known. This should be factored into your research. You can also ask for your firm’s latest peer review results, which are composed of an audit of the auditing firm to ensure they are following all legal standards and regulations. How the other players in the industry view your potential firm says a lot about their effectiveness and abilities.
Healthy Records, Healthy Company
Performing an audit is crucial to keeping your records clean, healthy, and legitimate. Just as getting an annual check-up keeps you in the best condition to enjoy life, you need to find a partner, whether that’s a doctor or an auditing firm, who can be your ally in achieving those goals. The task might seem daunting, but the more thought you put into choosing an auditing firm, the better your relationship and audit results will be. A functioning partnership makes the auditing process much easier to manage, so make sure you look for all the right factors when making this decision.