How to collaborate more efficiently in group audits
Group audits present complexities due to organisational structuring and operational processes of a client that a typical audit does not. These typically larger engagements also present key opportunities to find audit operational efficiencies to deliver to the client. These can be found when working across audit teams, whether within the same audit practice or with other audit practices, managing components of the engagement in various business units, domiciles or function areas, across entities.
First of all, all evidence documentation needs to be accessible, up-to-date and organised. Organisation is of the utmost importance, but with the sheer volume of information, evidence, documents and people involved, this can be hard to attain.
Second, there needs to be close collaboration across a team of auditors, the group engagement partner and the clients. Seeing as the auditors involved are usually from different firms or work in different countries, a central repository for the documentation that is secure and accessible by clients becomes a necessity.
Finally, there is the element of security. The alternative to a client collaboration platform is sending emails. Considering the sensitive nature of the information being exchanged, this is not desirable when it comes to preventing data breaches and other security risks.
These three elements put together can make a group audit complex and requiring significant planning, coordination and communication, not only between the auditors but also between the component audit teams and the client.
In this article, we will explain how our product, PBC Client Collaboration, can address all these challenges and result in a streamlined collaborative group audit process with happy clients as the result.
How PBC Client Collaborations helps in group audits
Circit’s Client Collaboration product helps to solve some of the fundamental group audit challenges. Implementing a centralised platform where auditors, clients and all stakeholders work together means information is securely shared during the audit process. That is only the beginning.
Being organised is key in a group audit. The group auditor needs to be in a position to delegate, manage and keep oversight - with so many requests split across different subsidiaries, this is crucial. The group auditor has to review the component auditor’s work while being confident in the final sign off.
Client Collaboration provides easy access to the wide variety of audit evidence documents. Auditors can reach out to clients directly on-platform to request documents, updates on documents or additional information. Real-time updates mean the latest version of a document is always to hand. Auditors using PBC Client Collaboration get a structured and organised overview of the component auditor’s work.
Another essential component of group audits is transparency: allowing clients to see the information being requested by auditors and track the progress of the audit. This can help clients feel more involved in the process and give them greater confidence in the results.
This goes hand in hand with client access to documents and allowing clients to upload and share documents directly with auditors, which can help streamline the audit process and reduce the risk of errors or delays. PBC Client Collaboration provides a centralised platform for communication between clients and auditors. This can reduce the need for back-and-forth emails or phone calls and make it easier for both parties to stay in touch.
There will be a group financial controller or CFO who needs a complete overview of how many requests are outstanding, how many are completed, how many are submitted. The Circit dashboard can accommodate multiple clients with multiple auditors, in one overview.
The portal also allows clients to see the progress of the audit in real-time, including which tasks have been completed and which ones are still outstanding. This can help clients plan their own work more effectively and be more prepared for audit-related tasks.
Without a client collaboration platform, one entity might send an email as evidence to an auditor who in turn needs to share it with another auditor. There is a lot of communication going on: auditors and auditors, auditors and clients, different entities... Instead of there being a lot of emails flying around with attachments, PBC Client Collaboration provides a secure platform to exchange and collaborate on information.
Seamless processes clients know
With authentications for direct access to client transactional data, these types of assets can be checked alongside the rest of the data. Since the output is a standardised file, there is no need to spend extra time on getting the files ready to be worked on.
Though providing these authorisations may be new to some clients, as James says: “We take the pressure off the client by saying: ‘Here is the link, just provide us your approval and we can take the information we need.’ That really streamlines the process as opposed to waiting for csv files to be delivered or receiving a patchwork pattern of pdf statements. It’s much more efficient to get that data and bank reconciliations in the same format.”
When setting up independently sourced data, firms first need to ensure that clients are clear on what they need to do.
“We find the videos Circit has put together on that very helpful. We can send these to a client and prepare them for what happens next and what it will look like. Some of our work on the Forensics Team is around fraud awareness, so we understand why clients are sceptical when they receive an email asking them to approve an authorisation. Circit has helped us make that collaboration more seamless.”
Getting started with PBC Client Collaboration
Audit firms like PKF and Grant Thornton already use the Circit platform to streamline group audits across subsidiaries in France, the UK, the Netherlands, India and more.
Interested in making group audits secure, collaborative and organised?
Find out more about PBC Client Collaboration.