Audits are one of the many reasons we, as accountants, exist. They are extremely stressful for our clients and can make for an extremely difficult situation, even for the most ethical and detail-oriented small business.
Before we go on, let’s start with what an “audit” actually means: According to www.businessdictionary.com it is a “Systematic examination and verification of a firm’s books of account, transaction records, other relevant documents, and physical inspection of inventory by qualified accountants (called auditors). Quality control: Periodic (usually every six months) onsite-verification (by a certification authority) to ascertain whether or not a documented quality system is being effectively implemented.
In other words, it’s a detailed examination by auditors of a small business’s ledgers, statements and any other accounting records that the business uses. It may take days or months to complete, depending on the depth and volume of records.
So, now that you have an idea of what an audit means, let’s talk about Five Ways your Small Business Can Prepare for an Audit:
- Communicate with the accounting firm directly: The accounting firm doing the audit is not your enemy. They are only there to do the audit and submit a report. They are an objective reporter, not out to “get” your business. So, setting the tone with the firm and asking them for an itemized list of all records and documents needed will benefit you and them. Have them send a checklist which your company can use as an inventory list. Lastly, assign someone from your company as dedicated point of contact. Your staff person should have access to all the documents needed and be a friendly and helpful resource for the auditors.
- Provide a General Ledger: This is usually your Quickbooks account. You can export it to Excel and then send it to the auditor. This ledger will clarify for your auditor what documents they need to audit.
- Provide a Trial Balance: This can also be found in your Quickbooks account. Most auditors depend a lot on this information as all the numbers in your balance are traced back to the trial balance. It should also be on an Excel document.
- Copies of Loans, Contracts and Leases (if any): This one is truly a matter of accuracy. Your auditors need to see long- and short-term contracts with vendors to see if they contract match up with statements (Includes buy-sell agreements, too.) Loans mean any bank-related or other types of loans which were used by your business. Leases, if any, are important as they require the minimum monthly lease payments.
- Board Minutes: This one is often-forgotten but may be a crucial element in the accuracy of the audit report. These board meeting notes contain details on hiring, terminations, acquisitions, sales, statements and other pertinent information from that auditing year up to the present date. All notes including budget and administrative reports need to be included. These documents is one of the easiest to collect, too.
There are more steps to take but this is a good start. We will publish a sequel blog to this one with more details on what to do in the near future.
If you’d like more details on how our company can do your business audit or assist you with it, contact us at A. K. Burton, PC. We can provide all of your private and business accounting needs. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for more information.