Assurance services

Assurance service is an independent professional service, typically provided by Chartered or Certified Public Accountants or Chartered Certified Accountants, with the goal of improving information or the context of information so that decision makers can make more informed, and presumably better, decisions. Assurance services provide independent and professional opinions that reduce information risk (risk from incorrect information).[1]

Definition and distinction from other services

The technical definition of assurance requires five components set out in the International Framework for Assurance Engagements:

  1. A three-party relationship – the responsible party who prepares the information to be assured; the independent practitioner who assures the information; and the users who are expected to rely on the information. In the case of an audit, the responsible party is the management of the company, the practitioner is the audit firm and the users are primarily the shareholders.
  2. Agreed subject matter – in the case of an audit, this would be the annual accounts of a company. However it could be almost anything in practice – the systems operated by a state lottery, a company's greenhouse gas emissions, controls over a supply chain etc.
  3. Suitable criteria – this means that there must be some agreed framework to which the information may be compared. In the case of an audit, this will be the form of company accounts mandated by the appropriate laws, regulations and accounting standards in a particular jurisdiction. For other subject matter, it might be the design and proper operation (as specified) of the lottery systems and controls.
  4. Sufficient appropriate evidence. The practitioner must obtain sufficient appropriate evidence that the subject matter information (the data related to the subject matter) agrees with the criteria.
  5. A conclusion expressed in a written report.

Audits are therefore a type of assurance service. However, audits only test the validity of the assertions in financial statements, and are subject to regulation under International Standards on Auditing. Assurance engagements designed to test historical financial information are referred to as assurance reviews (these are regulated by International Standard on Review Engagements (ISRE 2400)), but assurance reports can be obtained over many other subject matters and will then be subject to ISAE 3000 or other individual Standards on Assurance Engagements.

Consulting services are not considered as assurance[2] because in consulting services, an accountant generally uses their professional knowledge to make recommendations for a future event or a procedure, such as the design of an information system or accounting control system. In contrast, assurance services are designed to test the validity of past data of the business cycles. Although there is no boundary to what can be tested by assurance services, professional accountants cannot accept any engagement for which they do not believe themselves to be competent.[3][4]

Agreed–upon procedures do not constitute an assurance procedure under the above definition, because no conclusion is given. However, they are often loosely referred to as "assurance". Similarly compilation engagements (which also have no conclusion) are often described as giving assurance, but are not strictly assurance engagements.

Guidance

Technical guidance for practitioners wishing to undertake assurance services can be found in ISAE (International Standard on Assurance Engagements) 3000 ISAE 3000 and in The Assurance Sourcebook [5] published by ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales which also includes advice for companies wishing to choose between various assurance services.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Welcome to Assurance Services". American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Archived from the original on 6 April 2005. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  2. ^ International Standard on Assurance Engagements 3000 (Revised 2013), paras 6 (c) and A1.
  3. ^ "SSAE #10 Attest Engagements, AT §101, clause .21, second general standard" (PDF). American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
  4. ^ "International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3402, §13(a)(i)" (PDF). International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.
  5. ^ "The Assurance Sourcebook". icaew.com. Retrieved 6 April 2016.

Further reading

  • "Does Industry Specialist Assurance of Non-Financial Information Matter to Investors?" Ferguson, Andrew.; Pundrich, Gabriel. AUDITING: A Journal of Practice & Theory: May 2015, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 121-146.
  • "Are Assurance Services Provided by Auditors on Initial Public Offerings Influenced by Market Conditions?" COPLEY, PAUL A.; DOUTHETT JR., EDWARD B. Contemporary Accounting Research Summer2009, Vol. 26 Issue 2, p453-476. 24p.
  • "Determinants of the Maximum Level of Assurance for Various Assurance Services" Ruhnke, Klaus; Lubitzsch, Kay. International Journal of Auditing Nov2010, Vol. 14 Issue 3, p233-255. 23p.
  • "The Different Types of Assurance Services and Levels of Assurance Provided" Hasan, Mahreen; Maijoor, Steven; Mock, Theodore J.; Roebuck, Peter; Simnett, Roger; Vanstraelen, Ann. International Journal of Auditing Jul2005, Vol. 9 Issue 2, p91-102. 12p.
  • "The Relative Importance of Firm Incentives versus Country Factors in the Demand for Assurance Services by Private Entities" FRANCIS, JERE R.; KHURANA, INDER K.; MARTIN, XIUMIN; PEREIRA, RAYNOLDE. Contemporary Accounting Research Summer2011, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p487-516.
  • "Assurance Services for Sustainability Reports: Standards and Empirical Evidence" Manetti, Giacomo; Becatti, Lucia. Journal of Business Ethics. Jul2009 Supplement 1, Vol. 87, p289-298.
  • "The Competitive Market for Assurance Engagements on Greenhouse Gas Statements: Is There a Role for Assurers from the Accounting Profession?" Huggins, Anna; Green, Wendy J.; Simnett, Roger. Current Issues in Auditing. 2011, Vol. 5 Issue 2, pA1-A12.

External links

Accounting scandals

Accounting scandals are business scandals which arise from intentional manipulation of financial statements with the disclosure of financial misdeeds by trusted executives of corporations or governments. Such misdeeds typically involve complex methods for misusing or misdirecting funds, overstating revenues, understating expenses, overstating the value of corporate assets, or underreporting the existence of liabilities. It involves an employee, account, or corporation itself and is misleading to investors and shareholders.This type of "creative accounting" can amount to fraud, and investigations are typically launched by government oversight agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States. Employees who commit accounting fraud at the request of their employers are subject to personal criminal prosecution.

Assurance

Assurance may refer to:

Assurance (computer networking)

Assurance (theology), a Protestant Christian doctrine

Assurance services, offered by accountancy firms

Life assurance, an insurance on human life

Quality assurance

Auditor-General of New South Wales

The Auditor-General of New South Wales helps the Parliament of New South Wales hold government accountable for its use of public resources.

The Auditor-General is responsible for audits of NSW Government agencies and universities, and also provides certain assurance services for Commonwealth grants and payments to the State under Commonwealth legislation.

The Auditor-General is accountable to the Parliament of New South Wales and regularly reports on the audits.

Big Four accounting firms

The Big Four (Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)) are the four biggest professional services networks in the world, offering audit, assurance services, taxation, management consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal services. They handle the vast majority of audits for public companies as well as many private companies.

Until the late 20th century, the market was dominated by eight networks but this gradually reduced due to mergers and the 2002 collapse of one firm, leaving four networks dominating the market in the early 21st century.

In the UK in 2011, it was reported that the Big Four audit 99% of the companies in the FTSE 100, and 96% of the companies in the FTSE 250 Index, an index of the leading mid-cap listing companies. Such industry concentration has caused concern and calls for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to consider breaking up the Big Four. In October 2018, the CMA announced it had launched a detailed study of the Big Four's dominance of the audit sector.

Engineering consulting

Engineering consulting is the practice of performing engineering as a consultant. It assists in the development of both public and private companies. This development can be in a variety of different ways including process management, idea organization, product design, fabrication, branding, and marketing. Engineering consulting firms require engineers from multiple disciplines including civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, environmental, chemical, industrial, and agricultural. This diversity is necessary to cover the wide variety of potential projects that could be presented to the firm. Additionally to the technical work Engineering Consultants will assist in the marketing of company or product.

Etech Global Services

Etech Global Services is a privately owned multinational contact center with its head office located in Nacogdoches, Texas. The company provides services such as Customer Acquisition, IT solutions, Customer Support, Help Desk, Inbound, Outbound, Live Chat, Social Media and Quality Assurance. As part of the quality assurance services, the company provides business intelligence and market intelligence information through the data and analytic assessments. With nine centers worldwide, Etech employs over 5000+ employees and generates revenue of $47 million each year.

Fraud deterrence

Fraud deterrence has gained public recognition and spotlight since the 2002 inception of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Of the many reforms enacted through Sarbanes-Oxley, one major goal was to regain public confidence in the reliability of financial markets in the wake of corporate scandals such as Enron, WorldCom and Waste Management. Section 404 of Sarbanes Oxley mandated that public companies have an independent Audit of internal controls over financial reporting. In essence, the intent of the U.S. Congress in passing the Sarbanes Oxley Act was attempting to proactively deter financial misrepresentation (Fraud) in order to ensure more accurate financial reporting to increase investor confidence. This same concept is applied in the discussion of fraud deterrence.

Until recently, fraud deterrence has not been specifically identified under one common definition. While it has been discussed by many authoritative sources such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Practice Aid Series, “Fraud Detection in a GAAS Audit: SAS No. 99 Implementation Guide,” (explicitly) The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), “Internal Control – Integrated Framework,” (implicitly) and the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts Certified Fraud Deterrence Analyst (CFD) designation (recently merged into the Certified Forensic Financial Analyst (CFFA) designation), an actual definition of the term “fraud deterrence” has been difficult to find.

Gfresh

Gfresh is a global online business-to business seafood marketplace with integrated shipping, payment, customs and quality assurance services.Gfresh was launched in 2014 and connects sellers of live seafood located in Canada, United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand directly to buyers located in China (Mainland and Hong Kong).

Grant Thornton International

Grant Thornton is the world's seventh largest professional services network of independent accounting and consulting member firms which provide assurance, tax and advisory services to privately held businesses, public interest entities, and public sector entities. Grant Thornton International Ltd is a not-for-profit, non-practising, international umbrella membership entity organised as a private company limited by guarantee. Grant Thornton International Ltd is incorporated in London, England, and has no share capital.

According to Grant Thornton International Ltd, member firms within the global organisation operate in over 130 countries employing over 53,000 personnel for a combined global revenue of US$5.45 billion.

IBM Global Services

IBM Services is the professional services arm of IBM, made up of business, technology and industry experts who apply advanced technology and help clients design, build and run businesses. It includes two divisions: IBM Global Business Services (GBS) and IBM Global Technology Services (GTS).

List X site

A List X site is a commercial site (i.e. non-government) on UK soil that is approved to hold UK government protectively marked information marked as 'Secret' or above, or international partners information classified ‘Confidential’ or above. This changed from 'Confidential and above' with the introduction of the Government Security Classification Scheme. It is applied to a company's specific site (or facility within that site) and not a company as a whole. The term has been used since the 1930s and is equivalent to facility security clearance (FSC) used in other countries.

Locations with this status are those normally involved with defence research and manufacturing that is vital to national security. The complete list of sites is itself classified. The list is administered by Defence Security and Assurance Services (DSAS), part of the Ministry of Defence.

A similar scheme, List N, is used for sites relating to civil nuclear research or power generation, and is administered by the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Lucideon

Lucideon (formerly Ceram) is an independent materials development, testing and assurance company based in Stoke-on-Trent and in the US. Lucideon owns testing facilities around the world.

Maveric Systems

Maveric Systems founded in 2000, provides Product Implementation, Integration and Quality Engineering services across Digital platforms, Banking solutions and Regulatory systems.).Headquartered at Chennai, Maveric Systems has branches in Mumbai, Bangalore, Singapore, Mexico City, London (United Kingdom), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Riyadh (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) The firm operates in the APAC, Middle East.

Medway Community Healthcare

Medway Community Healthcare is a Community Interest Company providing Community Health NHS Trust services to the people of Medway established under the Transforming Community Services initiative. It comprises the community services previously run by Medway Primary Care Trust.

In July 2012 the organisation stepped in to help rescue the Balfour Centre, a day centre for adults with physical and learning disabilities, in Rochester, when it was earmarked for closure by Medway Council to save money.As a social enterprise with an annual budget of £50 million in 2012, it can use its surplus to develop services and to invest in community projects; in September 2012 it offered £30,000 in awards to support groups who help people in the local community.It runs the Wisdom Hospice in Rochester which was awarded a grant of £200,000 from the Department of Health in April 2013 to improve the patient environment.The organisation established a subsidiary, Gateway Assure, in 2012 to provide professional services to "private, public and third sector clients", including assurance services, business consultancy, risk management, training and executive coaching. It made losses of £518,273 during its first two years.It won a four year contract with a value of about £10.5 million a year to provide all NHS and council commissioned children’s community services in Medway, where it already provides adult services, in March 2018.

Pat Goss

Patrick Goss is an American radio and television personality based in Washington D.C.. Goss is the master technician on the television program MotorWeek, where he hosts a segment called Goss' Garage, and got his start as a mechanic at Rollins Park Shell in Rockville, Maryland.

Goss can be also seen weekly online on the Goss' Garage Radio Show on YouTube.Goss owns and manages Goss' Garage (previously Pat Goss Car World), an automobile repair shop in Lanham-Seabrook, Maryland in suburban Washington D.C. Here he continues to help millions of car owners gain understanding and confidence about their cars.

From 2006-2008, he was heard on Talk Radio 3WT until 3WT went off the air in August 2008. He has also hosted a weekend radio show about cars on WJFK-FM in Washington, DC. On his radio show, Goss answers questions regarding "automotive safety, performance and care". In addition to his radio show, he hosted a similarly formatted television talk show on TBD TV in Washington D.C. He has also been featured monthly in a live chat on The Washington Post webpage, where he answers car questions from around the world.

Additionally, he is a spokesperson for Carchex, a Hunt Valley, Maryland-based company offering lead-generation services for automobile dealers and consumer assurance services for consumers. The company primarily offers extended car warranty services.

Professional services

Professional services are occupations in the tertiary sector of the economy requiring special training in the arts or sciences. Some professional services require holding professional licenses such as architects, accountants, engineers, doctors and lawyers. Other professional services involve providing specialist business support to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors; this can include tax advice, supporting a company with accounting, IT services or providing management advice.

RAF Brampton

RAF Brampton was a non-flying Royal Air Force installation near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, England. Formerly the home of RAF Support Command, it also became the home of several elements of Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), which itself was a result of a merger between the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) and the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA), and provided a base for the Defence Security & Assurance Services and Defence Estates.

It was part of the combined station RAF Brampton Wyton Henlow but this was disbanded on 2 April 2012 and the station was renamed Brampton Camp, losing its status as a RAF station and coming under the control of Joint Forces Command and RAF Wyton. The camp was closed at the end of 2013 and all assets were transferred to a new JFIG Pathfinder building at RAF Wyton.

Specialized Technology Resources

Specialized Technology Resources (STR) is an American corporation headquartered in Enfield, Connecticut. STR has two divisions – Solar Cell Encapsulant Manufacturing and Quality Assurance Services for Consumer Products.

XIM, Inc.

Xtra Information Management Incorporated (XIM, Inc.) is an IT consulting, software and system integration provider headquartered in San Francisco, with 8 offshore development centers in Eastern Europe. It is a medium size 23 years old Silicon Valley-based Company with a large focus on the mobile/wireless development,Quality Assurance services and Smart Home Automation Home Automation System Development. Among the recent projects of Smart Automation Team is MQTT Buddy - mobile client on Android and iOS for controlling IoT devices.

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