What is an Auditors Report?

What is in an auditor’s report?

An auditor’s report is a written letter from the auditor containing their opinion on whether a company’s financial statements comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and are free from material misstatement.

The auditing of the accounts of a company is usually done by an independent external auditor. An audit report is a letter from the auditor of a company that is the end result of the audit process.

It states the auditor’s opinion on whether the company’s financial statements such as the balance sheet are in compliance with the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and if they are free from material misstatement.

The audit report is generally accompanied by the company’s annual report. The audit report is required by banks, financial institutions, investors, creditors, and regulators. When the auditor issues a clean report, it means that the company’s financial statements have been found to be fully compliant with accounting standards. An unqualified report will tell you that the financial statement could have some errors.

Audit reports are very important to a company. Investors rely on the audit report to assess the financial health of the company and they base many important decisions on the audit report. Regulatory bodies also read the audit report as it tells them how accurate the financial information reported is.

When an audit report is adverse it can seriously affect the company’s status and reputation. It is essential to have good accounting practices so that the audit of accounts goes well.

How an Auditor’s Report Works

An auditor’s report is a written letter attached to a company’s financial statements that expresses its opinion on a company’s compliance with standard accounting practices. The auditor’s report is required to be filed with a public company’s financial statements when reporting earnings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

However, an auditor’s report is not an evaluation of whether a company is a good investment. Also, the audit report is not an analysis of the company’s earnings performance for the period. Instead, the report is merely a measure of the reliability of the financial statements.

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Components of an Auditor’s Report

  • Title
  • Report’s addressee’s
  • Opinion paragraph
  • Basis for opinion
  • Key audit matters that are relevant to the client
  • Responsibilities of the management and those with governance for the financial statements
  • The auditor’s responsibilities
  • Signature of the firm and the engagement partner
  • Date

Some of the components listed above are new and will be implemented starting in December 2018. One of the changes is that the name of the partner involved in the engagement must be printed and signed on the auditor’s report. The measure was implemented so that auditors cannot hide behind the name of the firm. They now take on more personal responsibility by putting their name out in public.

Another new component is the key audit matter section of the report. Before, the auditor’s report was more generic and could be used for different companies. However, the new report requires specific details about the company so that it is more tailored to that individual company.

The Components of an Auditor’s Report

The auditor’s letter follows a standard format, as established by generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS). A report usually consists of three paragraphs.

  • The first paragraph states the responsibilities of the auditor and directors.
  • The second paragraph contains the scope, stating that a set of standard accounting practices was the guide.
  • The third paragraph contains the auditor’s opinion.

An additional paragraph may inform the investor of the results of a separate audit on another function of the entity. The investor will key in on the third paragraph, where the opinion is stated.

The type of report issued will be dependent on the findings by the auditor. Below are the most common types of reports issued for companies.

Clean or Unqualified Report

A clean report means that the company’s financial records are free from material misstatement and conform to the guidelines set by GAAP. A majority of audits end in unqualified, or clean, opinions.

Qualified Opinion

A qualified opinion may be issued in one of two situations: first, if the financial statements contain material misstatements that are not pervasive; or second, if the auditor is unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence on which to base an opinion, but the possible effects of any material misstatements are not pervasive. For example, a mistake might have been made in calculating operating expenses or profit. Auditors typically state the specific reasons and areas where the issues are present so that the company can fix them.

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Adverse Opinion

An adverse opinion means that the auditor has obtained sufficient audit evidence and concludes that misstatements in the financial statements are both material and pervasive. An adverse opinion is the worst possible outcome for a company and can have a lasting impact and legal ramifications if not corrected.

Disclaimer of Opinion

A disclaimer of opinion means that, for some reason, the auditor is unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence on which to base the opinion, and the possible effects on the financial statements of undetected misstatements, if any, could be both material and pervasive. Examples can include when an auditor can’t be impartial or wasn’t allowed access to certain financial information.

The Idea of Materiality in Audit Reports

One section of the auditor’s report states that “accompanying financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the company as of XXX…” It is important to note that it says that the financial statements are presented “fairly” – it does not say that they are presented “accurately” or “precisely.” It means that there are areas where professional judgment and policy choices were made and differences could exist between the judgments of different auditors.

In addition, “in all material respects” is also an important phrase. Materiality is the idea that certain changes are significant enough to potentially change the investment decisions of investors and potential investors. it means that issues that only deal with a small portion, i.e., 1% of net income, are not material.

Auditors are primarily concerned with material misstatements, which include omissions or other errors that individually or in the aggregate would reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users. Materiality is pivotal in the course of an audit and affects what type of report the auditor will issue.

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Example of an Auditor’s Report

Excerpts from the audit report by Deloitte & Touche LLP for Starbucks Corporation, dated Nov. 15, 2019, follow.

Paragraph 1: Opinion on the Financial Statements

“We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Starbucks Corporation and subsidiaries (the ‘Company’) as of September 29, 2019, and September 30, 2018, the related consolidated statements of earnings, comprehensive income, equity, and cash flows, for each of the three years in the period ended September 29, 2019, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the ‘financial statements’).

In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of September 29, 2019, and September 30, 2018, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended September 29, 2019, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”4

Paragraph 2: Basis for Opinion

“We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud.

Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks.

Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.”