In this post, Stuart Beattie looks at auditing remotely. But, while this post is specific to audits, we have used similar tools and processes for all of our client work done remotely this year.
October heralds the end of the busiest time for the audit department. Looking back on a busy season that has been quite unusual, I am happy to note that the vast majority of our audits have continued.
Despite not being able to work onsite with our clients we have still been able to access all the required information, data and evidence that we normally require as part of the audit process. This is down to effective planning and communication with our clients.
The keys to success
Generally, there are three key points to auditing remotely:
- The normal planning and audit completion meetings take place through video calls
- All our staff have the hardware and software to carry out audit at a distance – they all have laptops, and all have access to our secure portal for sharing files
- We communicate regularly, and proactively: we get in touch with finance teams regarding forthcoming audit bookings to put plans in place for how the work can be delivered, and we continue to liaise with clients through the audit process via phone or video conferencing.
Before lockdown started at the end of March, we were already using software that allowed our audit files to be accessed remotely and securely, plus we had a variety of ways for clients to get in touch and send us information. So, when we were no longer permitted to work onsite (or indeed from our offices), we had the core tools in place to ensure we could continue to deliver an excellent service.
Our secure client portal allowed clients to send through back-ups of their accounting system, Excel documents and various other material that we required. We also use screen-sharing facilities and video calls to assist with fieldwork.
All of our clients worked extremely hard to provide the relevant information and we would like to thank them for this.
New challenges and new support
Being in contact with each of our clients to discuss their systems, their access to documents and more importantly, how else can we assist them during the lockdown was very important at a time of new challenges. The pandemic and lockdown shone a new light on the concept of ‘going concern’ – that is, is the organisation in shape to survive? Some organisations thrived in lockdown; others faced a cessation to their activities like never before, and we were able to support by testing the underlying strengths of our clients.
Additionally, some of our clients were not sure initially how to access COVID funding or the furlough scheme. We were able to put them in touch with our payroll and corporate finance departments who assisted them with the preparations of forecasts or in their applications for assistance.
It has also been fantastic to speak to our clients remotely through video calls and see the variety of backgrounds and homeworking set ups that have been adopted during the lockdown. Gone are the meetings in an office – this has been a chance for our clients to see a slightly different side to us. The auditor is a human and one who is dealing with all the same lockdown issues. I hope also that my clients have enjoyed seeing my own home working space and can forgive the interruptions by young children and dogs!
At present we are likely to be working remotely for at least the reminder of the calendar year and therefore we would like to continue to let both our current and new clients know that we are here and are ready.
You can email or call your audit manager and partner in the usual way. Our switchboard will continue as normal.
You can also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will keep our website updated with relevant sector news and continue to email out updates (unless you have opted not to receive these).