Preparing for your First Financial Audit

James Shipp, Partner for Lovewell Blake

Embarking on your first financial audit can be a daunting process, particularly if you're not entirely sure what to expect. Yet, this pivotal step in your business's growth is less formidable when equipped with adequate knowledge and preparation.

James Shipp, Partner for Lovewell Blake

The audit process can provide valuable insights into your company's financial health and help uncover potential improvement areas. Here's your comprehensive guide to better understand the journey and learn ways to facilitate the audit process.

Why are Financial Audits Important?

Financial audits offer a multitude of benefits that can substantially help a business thrive. Here are some crucial reasons why they hold such high significance:

Confidence in Decision-making: 

Audits provide a thorough assessment of your company's financial status, enabling you to make well-informed decisions regarding growth strategies and future investments.


 Audits promote transparency and honesty, vital for gaining stakeholders' trust, including investors, customers, employees, and the public.

Regulatory Compliance: 

Routine audits ensure that your business adheres to the relevant financial standards and legal regulations.

Risk Management: 

By identifying financial discrepancies or inefficiencies, audits help mitigate financial risks and strengthen internal controls.

Investor Confidence: 

A clean audit report can improve your company's reputation, thereby attracting potential investors and enhancing current stakeholder relations.

Who do Audits Benefit?

While some may view audits as a formal exercise steeped in bureaucracy, the truth is, audits offer significant benefits to a wide array of entities. The influence of a comprehensive audit extends far beyond merely checking compliance boxes. Here's a closer look at how different parties benefit from audits:

The Business: 

At its core, an audit is a health check for the company. It gives the management a clear, objective assessment of the company's financial standing and performance. It identifies inefficiencies, highlights areas for improvement, and provides actionable insights to steer the business towards its financial goals. Moreover, it helps strengthen the company's financial controls and processes, thereby reducing the risk of financial mismanagement.


An audit gives shareholders confidence in the company's financial reports, which form the basis of their investment decisions. It assures them that the company is operating transparently and that their investment is safe.

Investors and Lenders:

 For potential investors and lenders, an audit serves as a testament to the company's credibility and financial health. It assures them that the financial information provided by the company is reliable and free from significant errors or fraud, thereby reducing their investment risk.


An audit can indirectly benefit employees by ensuring the company's financial stability, which can, in turn, lead to job security. Furthermore, transparent financial practices can enhance employee trust and morale.

Customers and Suppliers: 

For customers and suppliers, a clean audit report indicates that the company is financially robust and reliable, creating an atmosphere of trust in business transactions.

Regulatory Bodies: 

Audits help regulatory bodies ensure that companies are compliant with the financial standards and legal regulations set by them. They aid in the detection and prevention of fraud and other financial mismanagement.

Non-Governmental Bodies: 

Non-governmental bodies, such as industry associations and chambers of commerce, also benefit from audits as they help maintain the reputation and integrity of the industry or sector. They assure these bodies that their members are operating transparently and upholding high standards of financial management.

In conclusion, audits are far from just an exercise in bureaucracy; they're an essential tool that benefits a multitude of stakeholders. By fostering transparency, accuracy, and compliance, audits serve as a pillar of financial trust and reliability for businesses.

Which Companies Should Have Audits?

According to UK law, not every company is required to have an audit. Small companies, defined as meeting two out of three of the following criteria for two consecutive years: a turnover of not more than £10.2 million, a balance sheet total of not more than £5.1 million, and no more than 50 employees, can be exempted from mandatory audit.

However, some small companies may still choose to conduct audits voluntarily or may be required by stakeholders. Additionally, a company must have an audit if at any time in the financial year it has been:

  • A public company (unless it's dormant)
  • A subsidiary company (subject to certain exceptions)
  • Involved in banking or issuing e-money
  • A Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) investment firm or an Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) management company
  • A corporate body and its shares have been traded on a regulated market in a European state.

How to Prepare Your Company for a Financial Audit

Preparing for a financial audit involves organising key documents, preparing your team, and understanding what the auditors will be looking for. Here are a few steps to consider:

Organise Financial Documents: 

Keep all your financial documents, such as financial statements, tax records, receipts, and invoices, well organised and easily accessible. Ensure these documents are accurate and up-to-date.

Review Internal Controls: 

Assess your company's internal controls related to financial reporting and ensure they're functioning effectively.

Engage Your Team: 

Educate your team about the process. Ensure they're available and prepared to assist the auditors.

Be Prepared to Explain: 

Be ready to provide insights into any significant changes in your business operations or finances.

Hire an Audit Firm: 

Engage a reputable audit firm registered with the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in the UK. They will guide you on any specific requirements and help you through the process.

What are Financial Auditors Looking for?

Financial auditors are independent professionals who provide an objective evaluation of your company's financial statements. The goal is to ensure that your company's financial records accurately represent your company's financial transactions and position. Here's what they primarily seek:


Are the financial statements free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error?


Do the financial statements comply with applicable laws and regulations?


Are the financial statements consistently prepared, i.e., are the same accounting principles followed from one period to the next?


Are significant transactions and events appropriately disclosed in the financial statements?

Auditors are not adversaries to your business; in fact, they're essential allies in building trust with stakeholders and maintaining the financial integrity of your business.

Common Issues During Financial Audits and How to Avoid Them

Incomplete Records

One of the most common issues during financial audits is the lack of complete and accurate financial records. Ensure your financial documents are in order, and utilise accounting software for better management and tracking.

Inadequate Internal Controls

Weak internal controls can lead to financial discrepancies and audit issues. Regularly review and improve your financial controls and have an internal or external audit of your controls if necessary.

Non-compliance with Regulations

Non-adherence to financial regulations can result in penalties and damage your company's reputation. Stay updated with the latest regulations and have a compliance officer to manage this if possible.

Unreconciled Items

Unexplained discrepancies between different financial records can pose significant challenges during an audit. Regularly reconcile your accounts and investigate any discrepancies immediately.

While your first audit may seem overwhelming, the right preparation can significantly ease the process. Remember that your auditors are not adversaries; they are there to provide an objective evaluation of your financial records and help your company thrive. It's a process of growth, leading towards financial transparency and business success.

Common Misconceptions Around Auditing

Misconceptions about audits and auditors can create unnecessary fear and resistance. Here are a few misconceptions and the truth behind them:


An audit is a negative judgement on the company's financial management.


An audit is a standard practice to verify the accuracy and completeness of a company's financial statements. It's not a judgement but an objective evaluation.


Auditors are out to find faults.


Auditors aim to provide a fair and accurate representation of a company's financial position, not to find faults. Their role is to identify errors or discrepancies, not assign blame.


Audits only benefit stakeholders or investors.


While audits certainly serve to assure investors and stakeholders, they also provide valuable insights to the company itself, helping identify areas of improvement, inefficiencies, or potential risks.

Understanding the process and purpose of a financial audit can help demystify it and emphasise its value. The more you understand about financial audits, the more you'll see them as a beneficial tool in your business's financial management strategy.

What Can an Audit be Expected to Cost?

The cost of an audit varies depending on a multitude of factors, including the size of your company, its complexity, the state of your financial records, and the audit firm you choose. Here's a breakdown of common costs:

Audit Fee: 

This is the primary fee charged by the audit firm for conducting the audit. It's based on the time taken, the complexity of the work, and the seniority of the personnel required.

Travel and Accommodation Expenses: 

If your company's operations are spread across multiple locations, the audit firm might need to travel, incurring costs.

Additional Services: 

Should there be a need for additional services such as tax advice, consultancy, or if the audit reveals a requirement for extensive additional verification, these services will be billed separately.

Internal Costs: 

Do not overlook the internal costs of an audit, which include the time your staff spend preparing for and assisting during the audit.

Remember, the cost of the audit should be weighed against the potential benefits and peace of mind it provides.

If you are approaching your first audit as a business and would like a quote,

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