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If you are planning an audit, it is likely that your finance team will need to be heavily involved throughout the process.

Ensuring that they are prepared in advance of the auditors arriving on site will reduce the stress and minimise interruptions to the department’s day-to-day work. 

Here are my six golden rules to reduce the impact of an audit on your finance team.

1. It’s all in the preparation

Having a discussion with your auditor ahead of the audit fieldwork can help identify which standard records and documentation will be required. This means that your team has plenty of time to prepare the documents needed around their own work schedules, so that the information can be readily available on the first day of the audit.

There will, inevitably, be further requests during the visit, but the majority of data can be prepared ahead of time.

2. Agree times and work schedules

Although an auditor will not want to take your team members away from prior work commitments, they will need to speak with them at different times during the visit. Make sure you let your auditor know your team’s work schedules, so they can arrange the most convenient times for these discussions to take place.

An auditor will endeavour to meet with staff at times that work best with everyone, but they can only do so if they are aware of any prior commitments.

3. Educate your finance team as to why an auditor is there

There are many misconceptions around why a business may require an audit, and for what purpose an auditor is visiting.

Let your finance team know that an auditor is not there to try and catch them out or to scrutinise their job performance. Answer any questions they have about the reasons why the audit is taking place – perhaps it is a regulatory requirement or, if it is a voluntary audit, it may help to explain the benefits you hope to see as a result of the process.

The audit is likely to be a much less stressful and worrying experience if your finance team is not apprehensive about it.

4. Brief your team before a visit

Let your finance department know what may be required of them during an auditor’s visit, so they can ensure they are fully prepared and are not faced with any surprises.

If you are unsure as to what exactly is required from you and your team, don’t hesitate to ask your auditor beforehand.

5. Let them know they can ask questions

Let your department know that an auditor is there to help. That includes encouraging them to ask the auditor any questions and seek advice on how to make improvements within the business.

If your finance team can see how they may benefit from the auditor’s experience and expertise, it is more likely that they will find it a more positive process.

6. Make sure you have an orderly filing system

Speak with your finance team and review the systems you have in place for storing your records ahead of an auditor’s visit.

The easier the records are to find, the more likely it is that your auditor will be able to get on with the review without needing to ask your staff for assistance.

At Thomas Westcott, we understand that an audit can bring a range of benefits to your business, and we work closely with you throughout the process to achieve that. To us, an audit is more than just a compliance exercise and we want to help you, your finance team and the wider business get the most out of your audit experience.

For further advice on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or your local Thomas Westcott office.

By Audit and Accounts Manager, Robyn Jennings.