10 questions for trustees to ask your auditors

Paul Creasey profile image

Paul Creasey, Partner

Paul is a Partner at Wilkins Kennedy. He joined the firm in 2015, having previously worked with Grant Thornton, KPMG and Baker Tilly.

May 23, 2019


As a trustee, sometimes it can feel like you are responsible for everything, but have visibility on very little.  So taking the opportunity to talk to someone independent who has kicked the tyres on your financial statements and the systems and controls that underpin them can be really helpful.  This is what should happen once a year when trustees or their audit committee meet their auditor to hear them discuss the audit and statutory accounts.  How can you make the best of this conversation?

Here are our top 10 questions you could ask:

  1. What were the key risk areas you identified this year? How did you test them and what did you find?
  2. What level of materiality did you use for the audit? Are there any unadjusted errors below this level?
  3. What are the key areas of judgements or estimates that have made on our behalf by our management team? What did you think of them?
  4. What issues were discussed and resolved with management in arriving at these final accounts?
  5. What work have you performed to assess if the charity is a going concern? Did we do enough from our side in this area?
  6. Based on your knowledge of the sector, what could we do to make our trustees report better?
  7. What do you think of our risk register? Based on your audit and knowledge of us, is there anything we’ve missed?
  8. If you were on our board, what would you be encouraging us to do differently?

It’s also good practice for trustees to have some time with their auditor in a closed session without staff present.  This tends to work best after the auditor has presented their findings in the full meeting. Other than asking if there is anything they want to discuss without the management team present, you might also want to ask:

  1. Were there any significant issues during the audit that you haven’t covered in your report?
  2. Do you think we have the right level of financial skills and resources for a charity of our size and complexity?

Don’t be afraid to ask what’s on your mind, particularly if anything isn’t clear – we love a good conversation with our clients.  And if you’re not getting this level of engagement and want to work with a firm that sees beyond the numbers to give you advice that goes to the heart of your charity, we’d love to hear from you. 

For more information, contact your usual Wilkins Kennedy partner or paul.creasey@wilkinskennedy.com

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