The objective on an audit engagement is to enable independent professional public accountants to render an opinion on the fairness of the client’s financial statements.
Audited financial statements are the accepted means which many business corporations report to shareholders, to bankers, to creditors and to government. Federal and provincial legislation in Canada generally requires a limited company (corporations) to prepare annual financial statements for audit by qualified independent auditors.
The financial statements subject to audit are the responsibility of the company’s management. The auditors’ responsibility is to express an opinion on those financial statements. The auditors must plan the audit to obtain reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free of material misstatement. Through the study and evaluation of the company’s system of internal control, and by inspection of documents, observation of assets, making enquires within and outside the company, and by other generally accepted auditing procedures, the auditors will gather evidence necessary to determine whether the financial statements present a fair picture of the company’s financial position and its activity during the period being audited.
The objective of a review engagement is to prepare and review financial statements to ascertain whether they are plausible, that is, worthy of belief. If, after reviewing the financial statements the accountants are satisfied that the financial statements are not misleading, the accountants’ standard report will preface the financial statements.
Where an audit is not required or the shareholders have waived the appointment of an auditor, financial statements may be prepared on a review basis. Reviews provide limited assurance that the financial information confirms to generally accepted accounting principles.
In performing a review the accountants would must be independent from the clients and have sufficient knowledge of the industry which the business operates. They would acquire sufficient knowledge of the client’s business to make intelligent enquiry and assessment of the information obtained, with the limited objective of determining the plausibility of the information reported on. The review should entail enquiries, analytical procedures and discussion with responsible client officials.
This degree of assurance is less than that resulting from an audit and is expressed as either:
The negative assurance that nothing has come to the accountants' attention that would indicate the financial information is not presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, or
A reservation together with appropriate disclosure and explanation of the reservation.