Best Practices for Choosing and Working with an External Auditor


When it comes to accurate financial reporting, plus staying compliant with federal, state, and local regulations, working well with an external auditor is crucial for organizations. In this article, we highlight simple, yet effective best practices for choosing and collaborating with an external auditor.

Assess Your Auditing Needs

The first step is to identify your specific auditing needs. Answer this question – Why does my organization need or want an audit? Clearly understanding the audit’s purpose helps to align everything else – your expectations, the timeline, the tasks to be done by the auditor and your internal team, etc.

Ensure the Auditor’s Qualifications

Next, find a knowledgeable auditor. There are several considerations here.

>> Does the auditor know your industry and understand its unique accounting practices and regulations?

>> What certifications does your auditor hold? It’s usually preferable to work with auditors with qualifications like Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).

>> What reputation does the auditor have? Look in public records for any disciplinary actions or disputes. If possible, talk with past clients too.

>> Based on your knowledge of this auditor, do you feel this person can be independent and objective to provide unbiased opinions and recommendations?

Establish Clear Expectations

This best practice is crucial for the actual work to be done during an audit. (It’s often skipped, and that leads to problems over the course of the audit.) Clearly define the scope of the audit engagement. Be sure to specify the areas to be audited, such as financial statements, internal controls, or specific operations.

Furthermore, determine timelines, deliverables, and key milestones. And this includes the intended completion date.

While this is briefly stated here, we can’t stress enough how important timelines are to an audit. Communicating them clearly, and definitely when revising them, is crucial to an audit team working effectively.

Foster Communication

This best practice starts with agreeing on communication channels and frequency. State the preferred communication method and establish regular check-ins with the auditor and your internal team.
Also, provide the auditor with timely access to necessary information, documentation, and key personnel. Not doing so will derail timeline goals…fast! Remember, you want open dialogue with the auditor to quickly address any emerging issues or changes to the audit process.

Morgan & Associates Know Audits

At Morgan & Associates, we help nonprofits, educational institutions, municipalities and organizations of all kinds and sizes prepare for audits. We realize that the process, while necessary, may seem daunting or even scary. But we can help your team prepare with confidence.

We’ve written several more articles about audits so see them below. And, if you’re ready to speak with one of our auditing experts, complete the form at the bottom of this page. We’d love to talk with you!

FAQs for Municipal Audits in Michigan
How to Avoid Common Government Audit Mistakes
How Your School District Prepares Audited Financial Statements

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