Looking at your business from the outside in

Moore Stephens Wellington Audit is a licensed audit and assurance practice owned by Peter Smith, Mitch Czudaj and Michael Rania. With more than six decades’ experience between them, Peter, Mitch and Michael offer a comprehensive range of auditing and assurance services and work with businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Along with audits and reviews, Wellington Audit offers due diligence, internal control reviews, trust account audits, vote scrutinising and special purpose engagements. The nature of their business means Peter, Mitch and Michael deal with a large number of entities across a diverse range of industries.

“Many of the businesses we deal with are small; some are not-for-profit organisations and then at the other end of the spectrum are the more high-risk, larger companies that have legislative requirements for full scale audits.  It’s the variety that keeps our work really interesting,” says Mitch.

Although the audit practice sits alongside Moore Stephens Markhams Wellington accountancy, it is a standalone independent practice. Moore Stephens Wellington Audit also owns and operates practices in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay.  It’s essential the businesses are kept separate from their accountancy counterparts to retain their independence and maintain integrity for their clients.

“It’s important for any audit business that it operates independently of any accounting business. All aspects of auditing and assurance services look at a business from the outside, to get a true picture of its financial situation,” explains Mitch.

The regulations around providing auditing and assurance services have tightened over the past decade, pushing out smaller audit firms. “The collapse of American corporation Enron had its effects felt here in New Zealand, bringing into question the accountability of auditors and resulting in this country adopting International Financial Reporting and Auditing Standards. As a result, many smaller audit firms decided to get out. We got serious. Being fully licenced and having years of experience under our belt, we are able to provide the entire range of audit and assurance services, and our clients have confidence in our services,” explains Mitch.

What type of audit or assurance service a business needs depends on the level of reporting detail and assurance required.

“The two main types of assurance services are an audit and a review,” says Mitch.  “An audit is a true, positive statement on the entity’s accounts and financial records. It offers a high level of assurance and the results are based on exactly what we find through our investigations. An audit digs deep and will check out all aspects of an entity’s reporting systems, accounting processes and records.

“A review engagement on the other hand, provides a form of ‘negative assurance’. This would include us reporting that nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe that the financial statements do not give a true and fair view. A review gives a lower level of assurance and is a cost effective alternative for those entities that are not legally required to have an audit,” explains Mitch.

The reasons a business engages Moore Stephens Wellington Audit for an audit or review are varied. Often an organisation may require it in its constitution or for others it’s a statutory legal requirement. By default, New Zealand entities of a certain size are required to appoint an auditor, although this can be overruled by shareholders in certain circumstances. More often, an entity’s stakeholders request an audit to satisfy the requirements of an external funding provider.

“Audits add credibility to an organisation’s financial statements,” says Mitch. “It’s good governance to have an independent review as it makes crystal clear the financial situation and how those finances have been managed. To operate transparently is very important, especially for those businesses that offer securities to the public, or those that are publicly funded.”

An audit provides assurance on the true and fair position of an entity’s financial statements and although it doesn’t directly deal with performance, it can highlight potential areas for improvement in systems and processes. Audits can also be a very useful tool in a business purchase process. Whether the financial information presented is true and fair may be up for debate if it hasn’t been independently audited.

“What we do understand is that every entity is unique and will require specifically tailored auditing and review services. Our experience means we are able to tailor the right service to any sized business to meets its needs.”

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