Audited Financial Statements
How can you be sure that financial statements within a company are accurate? Audited financial statements, which have been prepared by an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on behalf of a business or non-profit organization, are used to provide financial accountability and accuracy to a company’s stakeholders. The documents used by an accountant to prepare audited financial statements are provided by the company, and include various financial documents such as accounts receivable/payable documents, budgets, expense reports. The CPA examines documents which support figures within the financial reports, assesses the overall accounting principles used, and evaluates the overall financial document presentation. From this information the CPA creates an audited financial statement.
Within the audited financial statement, the certified public accountant provides an opinion, either qualified or unqualified, about the nature of the financial documents. An unqualified opinion in an audited financial statement indicates that the CPA is in agreement with the methods used by the company to prepare their financial documents. The audit is found to be accurate, complete and fairly presented to meet the requirements of the US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). The audit provides the CPA a reasonable basis for their opinion that the financial statements are free of material misstatements or false/missing information.
A qualified opinion indicates that the CPA is not in agreement with aspects of the financial statements and/or methods used to prepare their financial documents. A qualified opinion indicates that the CPA is not confident that the financial statements are correct or accurate.
Occasionally an opinion will not be given within an audited financial statement. This could be due to the fact that there were insignificant documents available to properly prepare the audit, or there were issues that need to be addressed before evaluating the accuracy of the financial documents. A lack of opinion usually indicates that a company needs to improve their accounting practices so they can meet the requirements of the US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).
Neil Rischall is the CPA behind the CPABookkeepers site which has a wealth of information about audited financial statements as well as all services provided by a Certified Public Accountant.