Definition of Audit Report
An audit report is an independent opinion of a person/firm (i.e. auditor) about whether the financial statements present a true & fair view of the state of affairs of the entity, profit/loss of the entity & cash flows for the year, and such opinion is given after performing reasonable audit procedures so obtain sufficient & appropriate evidence for the assurance given on the financial statements.
- Shareholders are the owners of the entity. They do not have much time to look for each transaction and/or event occurring in the organization. They also cannot blindly rely on the management appointed by them. Hence, shareholders require a third-party assurance on their financial statements.
- This is a normal requirement of shareholders over the globe (at least for corporate entities). Hence, audit reports are standardized at some level so that shareholders do not get confused about the audit report of one entity as compared to another.
- Please note, only the format is standardized & “not the opinion”. Too much subjectivity is involved in drafting the opinion paragraph. That’s the beauty of an audit report since each person/firm of auditors should have a different perspective.
- The audit report is the first page on the set of annual reports of the company. After the audit report, the financial statements follow.
- In the United States of America, Certified Public Accounting firms are given the authority to audit & provide opinion on the financial statements. In India, Chartered Accountant or a firm of Chartered Accountants are given the authority to audit & provide an opinion.
- The opinion is given on the company’s financial statements.
- Types of audit reports means the types of opinions. Different types of opinions are Clean/ Unmodified opinion, Qualified Opinion, Adverse opinion & Disclaimer of Opinion.
- The clean opinion means there are no fraudulent aspects of the company. The financial statements are presented fairly. The company complies with laws & regulations.
- Qualified Opinion means the company is normally compliant with laws & regulations. However, there are some areas on which the auditor comments that it is not in compliance with laws & regulations. Other than the said areas, the remaining financial statements are clean & can be relied upon. Auditors need to have evidence for such a qualified opinion.
- Adverse Opinion is the worst opinion. The auditor does not have confidence on the financial statements & he cannot rely on the fair presentation of the financial statements. The company may become fraudulent in near future. Everything is grossly misstated in the financial statements & the auditor has evidence to support the said opinion.
- Disclaimer of opinion means “auditor is unable to provide opinion due to many circumstances including unable to obtain the evidence”. Such an opinion reflects the weakness in the management of the company. “No opinion” things has many legal implications on the company.
Examples of Audit Report
Let’s have the following set of examples for understanding the audit reports & its format. The first example is taken in a detailed manner. From the second example, we only focus on the crux part of the report
As an example, we will take the audit report of Domino’s Pizza, Inc for the calendar year 2019. The report is signed on behalf of PricewaterCoopers LLP (also known as PWC). The report is signed on February 20, 2020.
Heading & Opinion
- Every audit firm should have the heading “Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm”. It is addressed to “the stockholders & Board of Directors of Domino’s Pizza Inc”.
- The main opinion is as follow: (most important words are highlighted)
“In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the company as of december 29, 2019 and december 30, 2018, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended december 29, 2019 in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the united states of america. Also in our opinion, the company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of december 29, 2019, based on criteria established in internal control – integrated framework (2013) issued by the COSO.”
- As you can see, “present fairly” means a fair presentation of the financial statements. this means the report is “clean”. the clean report also means an unmodified report. the clean report implies the company is not fraudulent & it is lawfully compliant in all terms. further, the internal controls of the company are “effective”
Basis for Opinion
- The para provides what basis is taken by the auditor to provide the opinion.
- Basis para provides a glimpse of the procedures followed by the auditor in accordance with laws & regulations.
Limitations of Internal Controls over Financial Reporting
- The auditor clarifies that in spite of the best internal controls, the company may or may not prevent or detect the misstatements. Internal controls provide reasonable assurance.
Critical Audit Matters
- The auditor communicates the important areas of the evaluation to the audit committee.
- Such matters do not affect the main opinion per se. Through the audit report, the auditor specifies that he has communicated the important matters.
Next, we can take the example of an audit report issued to “Amazon Inc”. The report is signed by Ernst & Young LLP (also knowns as EY) on January 30, 2020 relating to the calendar year 2019. Let’s see the opinion para here:
- There is an unqualified opinion on the financial statements. Also, the auditors certify that internal controls are effective.
Next, we take the example of an audit report issued to Apple Inc.
- The report specifies an unqualified opinion. Further, the auditor has communicated the Critical Audit matters to the audit committee:
- Further, they have also stated the how they have dealt with the matter in the audit report while drafting the unqualified opinion:
Next example we take for Walmart Inc:
- The report is unqualified. However, the auditor has specified two critical audit matters in the audit report.
It says that the company is involved in a number of legal proceedings. The company has to follow the basic principles of accounting including accruing the probable liabilities. Probable means more than 50% chance of occurrence. Auditor says that the company has not estimated the same.
The auditor also specifies how he has dealt with opinion & how the opinion is still unqualified. Auditor has followed the procedures & it has found them to be appropriate. Thus, one can rely on the unqualified opinion.
The second matter specifies that the company has valued the “indefinite life” of intangible assets. It has also stated as to how the matter is dealt with in providing the final opinion.
An audit report is the first thing shareholders search for after they have understood the presentation of financial statements. If the audit report does not give them the required confidence or assurance, it has serious implications on the management of the company as well as the persons behind the management. Also, government departments take audit reports very seriously when they need to judge the status of the company. Also, auditors have to follow their ethical standards & professional parameters before providing an opinion. The subjectivity of the opinion is a matter of personal judgment but the minimum audit procedures are specified by the governing body. If they fail to do so, they are also liable for punishment by various provisions of law.
This is a guide to Audit Report Examples. Here we also discuss the definition and explanation of audit reports along with different examples. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –