An audit is the examination of the financial report of an organisation – as presented in the annual report – by someone independent of that organisation. The financial report includes a balance sheet, an income statement, a statement of changes in equity, a cash flow statement, and notes comprising a summary of significant accounting policies and other explanatory notes.
The purpose of an audit is to form a view on whether the information presented in the financial report, taken as a whole, reflects the financial position of the organisation at a given date, for example:
- Are details of what is owned and what the organisation owes properly recorded in the balance sheet?
- Are profits or losses properly assessed?
When examining the financial report, auditors must follow auditing standards which are set by a government body. Once auditors have completed their work, they write an audit report, explaining what they have done and giving an opinion drawn from their work. Generally, all listed companies and limited liability companies are subject to an audit each year. Other organisations may require or request an audit depending on their structure and ownership.