Difference between notice to reader, review engagement and audit

Posted on Mar 19, 2021

Whether it’s for directors, shareholders or creditors, the evaluation of financial statements is a necessary accounting task to optimize decisions about the future of the company.

In an effort to bring more credibility and reliability to financial statements, managers hire chartered professional accountants (CPAs) to prepare three types of reports: notice to reader, review engagement, and audit engagement. Despite their similarities, it’s important to understand the difference between the three reports to give the accountant the assignment that meets the user’s specific needs.

How to choose between notice to reader, review engagement and accounting audit?

Notice to reader

The Notice to Reader, which accompanies the compilation engagement, is a basic report that accompanies your financial statements. The compiled statements are not audited and the CPA who prepared them does not offer any assurance or opinion regarding the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by the client.

The Notice to Reader is a much simpler report than the review engagement and audit, so it's faster to complete and cheaper.

When to use a Notice to Reader?

The use of the Notice to Reader is common among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that do not have a significant financial commitment. A notice to reader is an option to consider if no level of assurance is required for the financial statements.

Review mission

Developed exclusively by a CPA holding a public accountancy permit, the review engagement is a certification mandate that consists in verifying the plausibility of financial data.

The review mission report is issued after performing analytical procedures and interviews with management and accounting staff. It consists in collecting sufficient information to confirm the absence of elements which could lead to believe that the financial statements do not comply with the accounting standards in force (ASPE or IFRS).

The CPA gives an opinion on the plausibility of the financial statements, which corresponds to limited assurance.

When to use a review assignment?

The review mission is generally requested by

  • A lender when you are considering getting a loan
  • An investor, before he agrees to participate in your financing
  • Passive shareholders, in order to obtain a certain level of assurance on the financial statements.

Representing financial statements through a review engagement is also an important advantage when you want to sell your business. Lenders and SMEs are increasingly using this type of accounting report as it certifies financial statements and is a more affordable option than an audit engagement.

Accounting audit

An accounting audit is the highest level of assurance on the financial statements that a CPA can provide. The purpose of an audit engagement is to provide users with reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free from significant discrepancies or misstatement and comply with applicable accounting standards.

Even if auditors are on the lookout for signs of error or fraud, it’s impossible to be certain that they all are identified.

The engagement plans to observe, test and examine the accounts of the company. In addition to the analytical study of the financial situation, the auditor may request supporting documents that support the verified transactions, such as invoices, contracts or statements of account. In addition, he will recommend corrective measures to the client to improve the information system and internal controls.

The following are examples of items that can be inspected during an accounting audit:

  • The components of internal control
  • Accuracy of account balances and financial transactions
  • The existence of the physical inventory
  • The existence of all employees
  • Adequate separation of transactions in their respective financial period
  • The recoverability of accounts receivable

When to use an accounting audit?

An audit engagement is usually performed in the event of the sale of a business or when requested by a lender, shareholder, regulator or creditor. The accounting audit is also used by companies with several shareholders or with significant financial commitments.

It certifies that the financial statements reflect a true and fair view of the operations of the company. This information favors any investment project or the interest of new shareholders.

Certification services

The main differences between the three types of missions

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How to proceed to produce a financial statement report?

Whatever type of financial statement report you want, the Stamped accounting platform makes the process easier for you by relying on the expertise of its CPAs and an artificial intelligence (AI) system.

This new technological approach connects all stakeholders to facilitate collaboration and the exchange of documents in complete security. Thanks to our digital operation, you can receive your financial statements in just three steps! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to obtain financial services.