A remote audit may be a safer and easier option for your business during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government has issued guidance on remote or virtual auditing to help businesses remain compliant and Thomas Westcott is happy to offer a remote audit. 

2020 has provided more than its fair share of complications and working remotely has become the new norm for a number of businesses. Remote working brings a number of IT, coordination, teamworking, logistics, and planning issues.

With many businesses facing the same complexities simultaneously, it can be easy to overlook some simple advantages that remote working offers. This is certainly the case when it comes to audits. Auditors and other professional service providers have adjusted their approaches to better advise their clients . 

Remote audits offer very distinct advantages such as reduced need for staff to attend workplaces, removal of office space required by audit staff, innovative approaches to testing, live-testing of data transfer processes, and reduction in travel and accommodation expenses being passed onto clients.

If you are considering a remote audit, here are four simple suggestions to get the best out of your advisor:

1. Plan early

Remote auditing has not reduced the responsibilities of auditors but it has meant that planning is more important than ever. It is essential that you contact your auditor as far in advance of the year end as possible. 

Timings, modified testing approaches, flexible hours, limiting client property attendances, remote meetings, access to original documentation, and health and safety checks are now required to some extent. This takes time to coordinate and plan for.

2. Choose remote meetings

The lockdown in March 2020 meant we all had to quickly adapt to remote meetings. While there is still a place for face-to-face meetings, remote meetings provide a greater deal of flexibility when working with your auditor. 

The ability to save time on travel, meet anywhere, and share screens provides efficiencies that were, largely, not effectively utilised before. 

Remember, your auditor should be available year-round to provide advice in relation to your financial statements. It is easier (and usually cheaper) to advise in advance than to unpick incorrect reporting, so use this technology to your advantage.

3. Set up contingency plans

The best laid plans at the start of 2020 may not have come to fruition as a result of the crisis.  This can be a valuable lesson moving forward. In the immediate future there is no guarantee that things will remain as they are. Ask your auditor what their plan is in the event that remote working is re-enforced by Government guidance. Work alongside them to ensure that the approach is feasible given your own circumstances. 

4. Forecast and re-forecast

The future is uncertain. Perhaps that is the only thing that we can be certain about in these times. Auditors and other service providers are facing ever increasing scrutiny when dealing with their assessment of a business’ future. 

The only way to help your business succeed and avoid unwanted delays is to ensure that you have a robust and detailed forecast and budgeting process that is revised and reviewed regularly to reflect the most recent developments.

As with any business at the moment, auditors and professional advisors are facing added complications in running their businesses. Discussing these complications early with Thomas Westcott’s Audit & Assurance team will allow you to work together to maximise the benefit to your business.

By Alan Sanders, Audit Director