If your organization is used to hosting auditors annually, you may be familiar with the uncomfortable delay between the in-person audit and the impersonal report that arrives three weeks later. During the audit, you may feel as if your work is being criticized, which makes the audit report feel like a grade based on what your organization did right or wrong.
One way to help bridge the gap between the audit and its results is by meeting with stakeholders and/or finance staff members before the end of the audit. During this exit conference, ask for information that will help your organization plan ahead until the audit report arrives.
FAQs from exit conferences
In our experience, we have had the most productive conversations with clients just before we leave their office after an audit. This is when their information is fresh in our minds and their questions are specific and relevant. Based on these interactions, we hope to advise both how and why to use these exit meetings to move your organization forward.
What’s the point of a post-audit conference?
Not every firm or organization takes the time to schedule an exit conference at the end of an auditor’s time on-site. Though not required, we find these meetings helpful because they allow us to do the following:
- Identify and discuss misunderstandings on processes or tests during the audit.
- Suggest ways to improve internal controls and other areas based on our knowledge of other clients.
- Provide an objective view on risks or weaknesses in the organization’s financial habits.
How do auditors expect to use a post-audit conference?
Generally, CPAs will use this time to inform organizations about any outstanding items, which can raise stress levels among everyone involved. During an exit conference, you can help anticipate this stress by asking about any missing documents up front and providing answers to these common questions:
- Who will provide the missing information?
- When can the auditor expect this information to arrive?
By learning to expect these questions and offering solutions, you can better prepare for next year’s audit and help keep everyone involved with the audit on the same page.
What do I need to know before the CPAs leave?
To help answer questions that may arise internally, we recommend gathering the following information before your auditor leaves the office:
- Set target dates for draft financial statements
- Approximate the approval timeline from your organization
- Set a target date for final report from the CPA firm
With this information, you can schedule tasks according to the audit timeline and help keep the CPA firm accountable for meeting agreed-upon deadlines.
Though the process can be exhausting, spending a little extra energy at the end of an audit can give your organization perspective and practical steps to complete the audit quickly.