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Key concepts
Accountant · Bookkeeping · Trial balance · General ledger · Debits and credits · Cost of goods sold · Double-entry system · Standard practices · Cash and accrual basis · GAAP / IFRS
Financial statements
Balance sheet · Income statement · Cash flow statement · Equity · Retained earnings
Financial audit · GAAS · Internal audit · Sarbanes–Oxley Act · Big Four auditors
Fields of accounting
Cost · Financial · Forensic · Fund · Management · Tax

The general definition of an audit is an evaluation of a person, organization, system, process, enterprise, project or product. Audits are performed to ascertain the validity and reliability of information; also to provide an assessment of a system's internal control. The goal of an audit is to express an opinion on the person / organization/system (etc) in question, under evaluation based on work done on a test basis. Due to practical constraints, an audit seeks to provide only reasonable assurance that the statements are free from material error. Hence, statistical sampling is often adopted in audits. In the case of financial audits, a set of financial statements are said to be true and fair when they are free of material misstatements - a concept influenced by both quantitative and qualitative factors.

Audit is a vital part of Accounting. Traditionally, audits were mainly associated with gaining information about financial systems and the financial records of a company or a business (see financial audit). However, recent auditing has begun to include other information about the system, such as information about security risks, information systems performance (beyond financial systems), and environmental performance. As a result, there are now professions conducting security audits, IS audits, and environmental audits.

In financial accounting, an audit is an independent assessment of the fairness by which a company's financial statements are presented by its management. It is performed by competent, independent and objective person(s) known as auditors or accountants, who then issue an auditor's report based on the results of the audit.

Such systems must adhere to generally accepted standards set by governing bodies regulating businesses; these standards simply provide assurance for third parties or external users that such statements present a company's financial condition and results of operations "fairly."

The Definition for Auditing and Assurance Standard (AAS) 1 by ICAI "Auditing is the independent examination of financial information of any entity, whether profit oriented or not, and irrespective of its size or legal form, when such an examination is conducted with a view ti expressing an opinion thereon"


Quality audits

Quality audits are performed to verify the effectiveness of a quality management system. This is part of certifications such as ISO 9001. Quality audits are essential to verify the existence of objective evidence of processes, to assess how successfully processes have been implemented, for judging the effectiveness of achieving any defined target levels, providing evidence concerning reduction and elimination of problem areas and are a hands-on management tool for achieving continual improvement in an organization.

To benefit the organization, quality auditing should not only report non-conformances and corrective actions but also highlight areas of good practice. In this way, other departments may share information and amend their working practices as a result, also enhancing continual improvement.

Integrated audits

In the US, audits of publicly-traded companies are governed by rules laid down by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which was established by Section 404 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. Such an audit is called an integrated audit, where auditors have the additional responsibility (other than to opine on the financial statements) of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of company's internal control over financial reporting, in accordance with PCAOB Auditing Standard No. 5.

There are also new types of integrated auditing becoming available. This uses unified compliance material - see the unified compliance section in Regulatory compliance. Due to the increasing number of regulations and need for operational transparency, organizations are adopting risk-based audits that can cover multiple regulations and standards from a single audit event[1]:. This is a very new but necessary approach in some sectors to ensure that all the necessary governance requirements can be met without duplicating effort from both audit and audit hosting resources.

Audits vs. Assessments

The difference between audits and assessments can be considerable or can be nothing at all.

As a general rule, audits should always be an independent evaluation that will include some degree of quantative and qualitive analysis whereas an assessment infers a less independent and more consultative approach.

Types of auditors

Auditors of financial statements can be classified into two categories:

  • External auditor is an independent accounting firm engaged by the client subject to the audit, to express an opinion on whether the company's financial statements are free of material misstatements, whether due to fraud or error. For publicly-traded companies, external auditors may also be required to express an opinion over the effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting. External auditors may also be engaged to perform other agreed-upon procedures, related or unrelated to financial statements. Most importantly, external auditors, though engaged and paid by the company being audited, are regarded as independent auditors.
  • Internal auditors of internal control are employed by the organization they audit. Internal auditors perform various audit procedures, primarily related to procedures over the effectiveness of the company's internal controls over financial reporting. Due to the requirement of Section 404 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 for management to also assess the effectiveness of their internal controls over financial reporting (as also required of the external auditor), internal auditors are utilized to make this assessment. Though internal auditors are not considered independent of the company they perform audit procedures for, internal auditors of publicly-traded companies are required to report directly to the board of directors, or a sub-committee of the board of directors, and not to management, so to reduce the risk that internal auditors will be pressured to produce favorable assessments.

In Project Management

Projects can undergo 2 types of audits[2]:

  • Regular Health Check Audits: The aim of a regular health check audit is to understand the current state of a project in order to increase project success.
  • Regulatory Audits: The aim of a regulatory audit is to verify that a project is compliant with regulations and standards.asdfkjkl


  1. ^ Meeuwisse, Raef (January 12, 2010). "Integrated Audits & Assessments". Audit2 Blog. Retrieved December 13, 2009.  
  2. ^ Cutting, Thomas (January 12, 2008). "How to Survive an Audit". PM Hut. Retrieved December 13, 2009.  

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Simple English

An audit is an evaluation or examination of something by a person or group of people. They can be made to a person, to a company, to buildings, to systems, to documents and many other things that are used by people.

Audits are made to check something, like a person is paying their taxes correctly or that a document is correct.

The most common type of audit are the audits performed on companies and their financial statements, a type of document. In business, many companies inform and report their operations, their money, and their income in financial statements to many people for many reasons. They inform people like banks, governments, investors, and the public, for reasons like getting a loan, paying taxes, getting investments, and improving their public image.

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