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Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting the Most Out of Your Auditor

Posted by Armanino Nonprofit Team

It’s that time of year again!

What are your primary sources for accounting information? Blogs (like this one, right?), journals, websites, LinkedIn groups, etc. What about your auditor? Your auditor can be a valuable resource to help expand and improve your organization. Are you getting the most out of your audit firm? Chances are your auditor has extensive experience working with similar organizations. They know what issues other organizations are facing, what works, what does not and most importantly they understand your needs. Consider calling your auditor next time you need help with:

– Development/ revision of policies – Whether its developing an endowment and spending policy for a new capital campaign, revising your fraud policy or strengthening your check signing requirements, your auditor should be able to provide valuable feedback in this area.

– Preparing for new requirements – Have questions on how the new codification affects your financial statements, how you would disclose leases under the new proposed standards or how to record that contributed property? Don’t wait until the audit; contact your auditor throughout the year with questions. They will have the information you are looking for and likely examples to follow as well. As issues or questions arise, my clients contact me to discuss the best approach and financial disclosure requirements. As a result, these issues are resolved come audit time and my clients are able to provide the audit team with accurate and complete financial information.

– Benchmarking – In addition to financial statements, budgets and other financial reports, the organization’s management and board should be reviewing their annual results, financial position and other ratios in comparison to their peers and competitors. Some audit firms offer this information as a value –add feature with their audit package.

– Other services – Most audit firms offer other services developed to meet the needs of organizations such as yours. Talk to your auditor about the needs of your organization. Many audit firms offer tax, consulting, software and much more. Here at Armanino McKenna, we even offer public relations services! Having a prior relationship with the firm can create increased efficiency and perhaps even allow for lower costs on other services.

Do you have any stories where your auditor has been an added resource? Or those where you hoped he or she would have offered their expertise?

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