Do You Get Good Client Assistance on Small Audits?

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We’ve probably all had the experience. About two weeks before the scheduled fieldwork date, we delivered the list of schedules and files we needed the client’s controller to prepare. He assured us they would be ready when we arrived. A day or two before the start date, we called to ask if the schedules were ready. The controller’s response was, “We have enough done to get you started.”

Arriving at the client’s office, the controller hands us 3 of the 50 schedules we had requested! We then realize that his interpretation of “enough” was considerably different than ours! Here are some of the reasons for the delay the controller offers:

1. You made your request only two weeks before the job was scheduled to begin.
2. He had never prepared some of the schedules and wasn’t sure of what you wanted.
3. He had a system’s crash and took a week to recover.
4. The company had downsized due to the recession and he had no help.
5. He didn’t believe you needed some of the schedules two years in a row.
6. He wasn’t an auditor and thought most of these schedules required an auditor’s professional expertise.
7. He felt the CPA firm’s fee was so high the audit team out to be doing all the work.

Why did this problem occur? The answer is the auditor didn’t plan properly for the client assistance. Here are a few considerations to think about:

• The list of schedules obviously wasn’t presented to the controller far enough in advance to allow him to plan for their completion.
• There wasn’t any follow up by the auditor to determine progress.
• The auditor apparently didn’t provide sufficient training to enable the controller to prepare the schedules.
• The auditor seemed to have made the assumption that the controller could do all the schedules by the due date without discussing it with him.
• The controller probably wasn’t given an explanation of why the schedules were necessary.
• The controller didn’t seem to recognize that the more work he did, the lower the audit fee.

CPA firms that are receiving good client assistance are proactively PLANNING to prevent problems. Post a comment and tell us about your successes.


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