Despite (sometimes justifiably) being viewed as a grudge purchase, an audit serves a much greater purpose in society and gives a company’s stakeholders (shareholders included) peace of mind that there is nothing seriously wrong with the financial statements that are presented by management and directors. This necessitates an audit engagement team that not only has the required expertise and skill, and sufficient time and resources to give the stakeholders a high-quality audit every time. The team should also have a system around them that can help them to deliver work of the highest quality.

At RSM South Africa, we have invested, and continue to invest, heavily in a dedicated support structure to assist the directors, associates, managers, supervisors, and other audit staff to provide a high-quality product to our clients. Here is a view at some of the work that goes on behind the scenes of an audit/review/compilation:

Audit readiness

Before the team arrives for the first day of the fieldwork, we need to ensure that the entity is ready for us, for example by having a trial balance and general ledger that match to supporting listings and registers. This RSM division assembles and reviews the necessary accounting information and matches listings for the audit team. This saves wasted time for the client’s staff, as well as the audit staff, on requests for listings and back and forth on differences between listings.

Statutory audits

We have specialists who perform audits of statutory compliance (CIPC requirements, minutes, etc.) and agreed-upon procedures. This is a specialised section of the file, and our professionals have many years of expert knowledge. This includes expertise on the Companies Act requirements to work on shares, dividends, resolutions, memoranda of incorporation and other statutory information so that our clients get an expert view on this complicated area of their corporate compliance. 

Audit file creation and maintenance 

We have centralised and standardised our process of creating new engagement files by utilising one template that is kept up to date with the latest standards and legislative requirements. But it goes even further than national standardisation - around 120 RSM firms around the world use the same standardised and approved audit and review methodology. The templates that our teams start off with thus guide them to consider all that is required on an engagement, ensuring that our clients get the very best audit and value added through a deep understanding of their business. 

Training and CPD

Dedicated professionals in the assurance department focus solely on upskilling staff at all levels, under the leadership of our training officer. These individuals are all passionate CA(SA)s with additional training and experience in the areas of learning and development of staff. Training events are held throughout the year and training-on-the-job is provided to audit team members directly on audit engagements when they need guidance. This includes assistance with the application of our audit methodology, practical skills, soft skills, or a technical topic. Conversations about ethics, values and critical thinking are held on a frequent basis to assist staff to identify potential ethical dilemmas, ensuring that we not only maintain SAICA's code of ethics but ensure we all “do the right thing”. 

Staff assignments and management

The quality of an audit is driven by various factors, one of which is the staff that are allocated to each audit engagement. Staff are allocated by our audit staff managers in Johannesburg and Cape Town and there are processes in place to ensure that staff with the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise are assigned to the various clients. It is a balancing act to provide continuity on a client engagement while ensuring that every trainee accountant receives sufficiently varied exposure during their training contract to develop them into a well-rounded CA(SA). 

Quality control and management

Before any report or financial statements is issued, it is reviewed by an independent quality controller to ensure they are of the highest quality and all the necessary documentation is in place to support the audit opinion that is issued. In some instances, this may involve an additional IFRS review or another focused quality review.

This is all overseen by our Head of Quality, Head of Audit and CEO who have support staff dedicated to upholding the quality management system of the firm. These individuals have reduced client-facing responsibilities enabling them to focus solely on RSM’s commitment to high quality engagements and compliance with the latest quality management standards.

Henk Heymans                       

Director: Audit                         .

Kim Venter

Senior manager: Audit Technical Training

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