How To Answer Review Notes

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The topic of review notes always amuses me.

When I first joined a CPA firm, I was amazed that things were “proofed” and “reviewed” SO many times. Why didn’t people “do it right the first time?”

Just to make you smile today, here are some review note observations.

  • Some partners use review notes as a means of not having to actually talk to staff members.
  • Many partners have told me that review notes are the way they “train” their new people.
  • In the old days, CPAs kept review notes in the client file and new people were told to look at last year’s review notes so they wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Then they wised-up and realized that proof of errors should probably not be retained in the file (what a concept…. they learned this from their liability insurance provider).
  • In many firms, you will find a partner who is known as the review note Gorilla – the more review notes, the more the young staffer is learning. Staffers will begin to compare and take pride in mocking this behavior….. “Hey, I got 25 review notes from Old Joe.” – - “That’s nothing… I got 44 on the Smith Manufacturing job!”

Inside many firms, standard “replies to review notes” have evolved. The two-year associates will share with the “first years” on what to reply.

I had the following list of Review Note Replies in an old paper file. See if they sound familiar. Got any to add?

  • I didn’t do it.
  • Why don’t you look in the work papers?
  • When you give me enough time to do an audit, I’ll do an audit.
  • How far into the ground would you like to beat this?
  • Who cares? We already reviewed the report with the client.
  • Webster defines immaterial as “that which does not matter, not pertinent, unimportant.”
  • Well, if we could get a little planning on these jobs….
  • The senior told me to do it that way.
  • You must have “discussed” this with someone else.
  • Noted for next year (I’m not up to it this year and maybe I’ll quit by then).
  • Watch it! I have a standing job offer with another firm.
  • Frankly, it didn’t even cross my mind.
  • I must have missed staff training that day.
  • You are assuming the client has a basic knowledge of accounting.
"Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking."

Albert Einstein


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