Whether you require an audit due to the size of your business or by your shareholders or constitution, we will ensure that you will benefit from a robust review of your accounting records and systems.
Your business will profit from the confidence and reassurance that your accounts are fully compliant, that your accounting processes and procedures are appropriate and that system weaknesses and improvements are identified to help reduce business risks.
Our experienced auditors will work as part of your team, allowing you to gain from their knowledge about business trends in your sector and in the wider economy.
Although our audit service is delivered annually, we are available throughout the year to discuss issues as they arise and, by maintaining regular contact, we ensure there are no surprises at the year end.
During the audit process we often involve some of our other specialist teams, such as VAT, payroll and corporate finance, to provide input to the process to ensure any issues are dealt with timeously.
You will benefit from our extensive experience working with a broad range of organisations, including: public limited companies; large private companies; owner-managed businesses and not for profit organisations. We also have particular expertise in the following sectors:
Owner Managed Businesses, Property & Construction, Food & Drink, Healthcare, Hotels & Leisure, Media & Technology, Charities/Not for Profit, Farms and Landed Estates.
To understand more about the audit process we have provided more information on:
When is an audit required
If your business qualifies as a small company under the Companies Act then you do not require a statutory audit. The qualification criteria are based on turnover, total assets and employee numbers and we can advise if you qualify for exemption. Medium and large companies require an annual audit.
However not all organisations are registered companies and are instead formed under other legislation, e.g. the Charities Act, Pensions Act etc. There are different audit threshold requirements for these types of organisations and we will ensure compliance with the rules.
Although your business may not require a statutory audit, many businesses choose to have the discipline of an annual audit to provide reassurance on the accounts and processes within the organisation. The audit can act as a further quality control procedure. You may also require an audit as part of covenant conditions on borrowings as required by lenders.
Whether you have a statutory or non-statutory audit, our approach and service quality will be the same.
Our approach and audit methodology
Our audit approach is robust, independent and challenging. At the planning stage we will identify the key risk areas, and agree the information required for the audit and the timetable. We will listen to your concerns to ensure our audit approach is tailored to address these concerns and maximise benefit from the process. During the audit we will ensure there is ongoing dialogue to advise on progress and any issues arising and their resolution. At the end of the audit we will meet to discuss our findings.
We use a risk-based approach to auditing based on our knowledge of your business. A considerable amount of time is dedicated to planning the audit and identifying your organisational risks. By understanding the key business risks we are able to focus on those areas which can potentially have the greatest impact on the financial statements. As well as being risk-based, our audit approach will include a detailed understanding of how your systems operate. We will document your system and key controls and report to you on the completion of the audit on any weaknesses that we have identified.
The approach to our detailed audit fieldwork is focused to provide the appropriate degree of audit comfort on the key audit areas. During our work we discuss any significant matters with you as they arise which ensures that we have time to resolve them.
The audit process is performed using a paperless based auditing package together with Microsoft Office for preparing schedules. We link remotely to our servers which ensures we have all the information and tools required to deliver our services and can respond quickly and effectively to your queries on site. We will maximise the use of email throughout the process.
At the end of the audit we will meet to discuss the results of the audit including any adjustments, discuss system improvements where identified and agree the accounts. We will formally summarise the audit findings and results together with our feedback on any systems or internal control matters.
Providing a quality service
To ensure quality is maintained in delivering our services, all audit assignments go through a robust internal review process. Our files are quality reviewed on a sample basis throughout the year through the firm’s internal file review process and our files are independently reviewed annually.
One of the main ways to maintain quality is to ensure our staff are properly trained and kept up to date with changes in regulations. An external training company provides regular ongoing training courses and post qualifying education throughout the year in all aspects of accounting, auditing, taxation and company legislation and additionally we run our own internal training courses. All professional staff members attend these courses in addition to other relevant courses. Staff also receive on the job training which is designed to ensure they develop the necessary skills to develop their careers within the firm.
Compliance with accounting standards
As part of the audit process we ensure your accounts and reporting complies with current accounting standards and guidance. For most businesses in the UK this means compliance with UK Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (UK GAAP) however the standards are changing and from 2015 businesses will have to comply with new standards aligned to international standards. The biggest changes will be seen by medium and large organisations.
We will be able to advise on the transition process and we have experience of this when listed groups had to comply with the full international accounting standards from 2005.
As auditors we are keen to be of assistance throughout the year and we are happy to advise on the accounting treatment of specific transactions to ensure compliance with the standards and to prevent issues arising at the time of the audit.
Specialist Audit Expertise
We have developed specialist areas of expertise where a detailed understanding of the sector and regulations is important to carry out an effective audit.
In addition to corporate audit work we have strong experience in charities, housing associations and pensions. In these sectors the regulations are different, the accounting standards and guidance are different and the format of accounts and disclosures are different. We are able to provide meaningful advice and guidance as a result of the number of clients we have in these sectors.
We also have considerable experience of grant audits where we verify grant claims to ensure costs claimed are in accordance with the contract. We have carried out several of these audits on behalf of the European Commission.
The pension sector has experienced significant change over the past decade, such as the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution schemes. Many defined benefit schemes are now unaffordable with large deficits and the focus for most employers is to limit risk where possible.
Pension trustees have a difficult job ensuring compliance with regulations, protecting the interests of members in a challenging funding environment and assessing the ongoing financial strength of the principal employer to ensure the viability of the scheme to deliver expected benefits.
Pension schemes will normally use a scheme administrator to manage the scheme, though, in addition, they will typically need to purchase external audit services, which may include accounts preparation.
The scheme may also outsource the pensioner payroll, including completion of the HMRC annual return and tax return. Pension schemes may request a review of governance procedures or an employer covenant review to ensure affordability of scheme contributions.
Employers seeking to set up a company pension scheme will need to seek specialist advice to ensure the appropriate structure is achieved.
French Duncan has many pension scheme clients for whom we provide audit and accounts preparation services, ensuring compliance with regulations.
We have a small team with broad experience in defined benefit and defined contribution schemes with varying investment portfolios and member numbers. Our use of specialised pension accounts production software enables us to provide an efficient and cost effective service to clients.
We also operate pensioner payrolls for schemes through our payroll bureau and ensure the returns to the tax authorities are completed on time.
Experienced in carrying out employer covenant reviews to help the trustees monitor the security of future funding of schemes – this due diligence work is carried out by our corporate finance team – we also offer advice on setting up a scheme, or review of investment strategies, through our financial services company, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.