Assurance services, in today's environment, means audit and review engagements. The objective of the assurance engagement is to provide the reader of the financial statements or report, with a fair representation of the entity's financial position and results of its operations.
All firms performing assurance engagements are governed by the same requirements. All firms must gain an understanding of the business environment, and systems of control in place at the client. All firms are required to assess risk, and, based on this risk assessment, design tests to verify controls, and to verify account balances and revenue and expense streams. All firms are then required to execute the audit plan, and respond and amend the plan if they encounter unexpected results. Finally, each firm is then required to evaluate the results of these tests, and determine whether or not they have obtained sufficient appropriate audit evidence to express an opinion on the financial statements, and what the form of that opinion should be. All firms are expected to carry out their assurance assignments in an environment in which quality is maintained and continuously improved.
All firms are subject to the same rules, but that is not to suggest that every assurance provider is the same. As outlined below, we are not.
We are fully committed to maintaining the highest professional standards. As an example, one of our professionals is seconded, on a part time basis, to the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario, to perform practice inspections on other accounting firms to ensure that they are following the rules.
We believe that our formal training, education, and the depth and variety of our professional experiences make us different. These differences enable us to be more accurate, more effective, more efficient, and timely in the completion of our assignments.
Most other firms use either students or technicians, or both; we do not. Our assurance engagements are staffed by qualified accountants, who possess recognized designations. The professional designation is recognition of successful completion of rigorous training, usually over a minimum of three years and passing a series of qualifying examinations.
We attend continuing professional development courses on an annual basis to maintain our level of competence and professional designations. As a firm, we insist on a significant additional amount of continuous education commitment to ensure that we approach each assurance engagement with an understanding of all current rules and regulations and how to apply them.
Finally, we have spent time in industry, keeping the books for the various entities with whom we were involved, and therefore we know how accounting systems work. We are first and foremost good accountants, and that allows us to quickly understand the accounting systems, to know where to look for errors, to find them, and to correct them.