You’ve hired an experienced independent registered public accountant (“public company audit firm” or “audit firm”) for your public company audit. Now what? A transition plan that includes the below elements can help you iron out the wrinkles and establish a smooth transition.
1. Balancing Resources and Agility
The size and structure of the audit firm can influence the audit team’s ability to answer your questions quickly. Big firms may have layers of bureaucracy that make decision-making cumbersome, whereas small firms may not have the depth of knowledge necessary to address complex technical issues. Look for a Goldilocks firm—or one that is not too big or small but “just right” for your needs. This provider choice should balance the appropriate resources with decision-making abilities. Specifically, search for the necessary experience and resources to answer complex questions combined with the local authority to make those tough calls within your needed time frame.
2. Managing a Smooth Transition
With interim financial reporting deadlines always looming, you have little time for confusion or delay in the transition to a new audit firm. Changing auditors naturally involves some level of disruption, but an experienced SEC audit firm will have established processes to streamline the process.
Ideally, that transition process will document the steps from pre-approval through engagement planning and ultimately completion. This plan should spell out the interaction with the audit committee, your company, and the predecessor audit firm. Understanding the transition plan allows management and others involved to allocate its resources efficiently, resulting in a smoother transition.
3. Keeping Open Lines of Communication
Efficient audits require regular communication and a healthy working relationship between the three main parties to the audit: the audit committee, management, and the audit firm. While the audit committee bears responsibility and final decision-making authority regarding the company’s audit, all parties will benefit from an open flow of communication.
Regularly engaging the audit firm throughout the year helps to minimize surprises. While auditors must maintain clear independence boundaries and can’t make management decisions, they are in an excellent position to provide insight that can help management determine the most appropriate accounting treatments. Everyone’s goal is to deliver the most accurate and complete information for investors and other public company stakeholders; keeping the audit team in the loop throughout the year can help achieve that goal.
Looking for an experienced SEC audit firm with a commitment to helping you minimize compliance costs while boosting confidence in your financial information? Contact the CRI SEC audit team.