A lot has been written about how to select a new audit firm, including lots of examples for requests for proposals (RFP) and example scoring criteria.
One of the most important elements of the auditor selection process, however, that not much has been written about, is the reference checking for new possible audit firms.
So, below we describe an approach and provide a list of sample questions to ask during reference checking when you’re in the process of selecting a new audit firm.
Written audit proposals provide some very important information about an audit firm, including their industry experience, the fees they will charge, and a description of their audit approach. However, written audit proposals do not provide other important information such as:
Because such questions are best answered by talking to the firm’s current and former clients, checking references is vital. When the RFP asks the CPA firm to provide 3 to 5 references, they will of course provide their happiest clients; when you call for references, you will not learn a lot.
So, here’s our first tip: instead of just calling their listed references, call some of their other current and recent clients to get a better perspective. Most reputable audit firms will have a list of past/current clients on their website. If not, ask for a list to get a better understanding of the clientele they serve.
Here are some sample questions that you may find helpful in conducting reference checks for potential new audit firms:
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Kevin W. Harper is a certified public accountant in California. He has decades of audit and consulting experience, entirely in service to local governments. He is committed to helping government entities improve their internal operations and controls.
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