What to expect when you’re having your audit remotely

Sayer Vincent

22 April 2020

Due to current social distancing restrictions, everyone is required to work from home wherever possible. This means that audit work undertaken for the foreseeable future is being done remotely. How will this be different, how can you prepare and what should you expect from a remote audit?

1. Preparation is key

As usual, we will provide you with an audit preparation checklist to set out the information and documentation we will need to be available for the audit. It is important that you review this list to ensure that you have access to all the information from your current location. If some information is not available to you, please let us know what is not as soon as possible.

We will aim to have a virtual meeting with you about a week ahead of the audit to discuss your preparation and check what is and isn’t available.

2. Share information electronically

We will set up ShareFile, a secure digital portal which you and your audit team can access to upload and share information. Please upload the information on the audit preparation checklist as soon as it is ready and before the audit starts, following the referencing convention agreed with the manager.

It may be helpful to annotate the audit preparation checklist with the status of the information. If information needs to be obtained from others in your team, please co-ordinate this and provide us with their contact information in case we have any questions.

3. Sample selection as early as possible

We will select our detailed samples of transactions as early as possible to ensure we provide you with maximum opportunity to find the related documentation. Therefore, we will ask for the accounts and supporting nominal ledger reports one week before the audit.

Please also provide us with a list of all staff paid in the year and details of any starters and leavers in the year so we can select a sample for payroll testing early.

4. Regular communication

We will use technology to communicate regularly with you. We use Microsoft Teams and can invite you to participate in audio and video calls, even if you don’t have this software. We also have teleconferencing facilities available. We are happy to use Skype/Zoom etc if you prefer.

5. Virtual meetings

We will arrange virtual meetings to replicate the conversations we would have otherwise had in your office. Please consider who we will need to speak to in the finance team and beyond; let them know that we would like to speak to them as part of the audit process and let us know how and when we should contact them.

We are happy to attend the finance committee or board meetings remotely too.

6. Desktop sharing

Microsoft Teams allows participants in a video call to share their screen. We can use this technology to simulate being sat beside you at your desk to see information on your screen. This may be useful if we need to watch you walk through a system or access information on a system that we cannot access directly, such as electronic banking.

7. Working preferences

We appreciate that the audit is not your sole activity and you have other commitments to juggle in your working day. Please let us know what your working hours will be and when and how you would like us to contact you. For example, we could book set times to communicate each day and save our queries for then, or you may prefer us to raise queries as we go. We are happy to work in a way that works for you.

8. Regular update reports

We would usually provide an update report at the end of the audit week to set out any outstanding information. While we are auditing remotely, we find it can be helpful to provide these updates more regularly. We will agree with you if we should provide an outstanding list each day or when this will be helpful.

9. Manager review

The manager would usually visit your office during the audit to review our work and discuss any findings with you. We will replicate this process while working remotely, so the audit manager will review the audit work and then arrange a virtual meeting with you and the audit team to discuss our findings.

10. Audit work that cannot be done

We may find that there is some audit work that cannot be done without access to your office, perhaps where evidence is only available in hard copy. We will use alternative evidence wherever possible, but it may be that we agree a list of information to review at a later date, when you can get access to your office. Where necessary, we will discuss any implications for your timetable.

If you have any queries about how a remote audit will work for you, please contact your audit manager or partner.