Compilation: Collecting, classifying and condensing
Often contrasted with an Audit, Compilations present detailed financial information in an easily digestible form without confirming the information’s validity. This information includes:
- Assets and liabilities
- Income and cash flow
Third-party or independent Certified Public Accountants are usually engaged for Compilations by businesses without their own accounting team, although businesses that do have in-house accountants aren’t disqualified from tapping them for this purpose. Note that in the Philippines, the Board of Accountancy (BoA) requires a CPA to be BoA-accredited before signing off on a Compilation Certificate.
Also, note that accountants who detect significant inaccuracies may be compelled to withdraw from a Compilation engagement as a matter of principle. Though they aren’t required to vouch for the accuracy of the information, accountants are mandated to present information that confirms any suspected, deliberate misstatements.
While CPAs also aren’t required to have an in-depth understanding of the industry that the business belongs to, they do need to have a sufficient grasp of how the business works to be able to prepare a satisfactory Compilation.
Not an audit.
Because the information in a Compilation doesn’t have to be verified the way it has to be in an Audit, a Compilation is faster and costs less to complete, making it the go-to statement in both time-sensitive and cost-sensitive situations. However, anyone using the Compilation must take note of the fact that the information in it isn’t verified or audited.
While some parties may be satisfied with Compilations as a financial statement, there are institutions—such as financing companies and others that offer loans—which will accept nothing less than a fully audited statement. Even so, a Compilation does have the merit of having been prepared by a CPA with due professional skill and care.
Compiling the facts.
In preparing a Compilation, the CPA collects documents that confirm the amounts on a business’s financial statements and looks for errors in the data. Again, while the CPA isn’t required to verify the data, they may ask the business owners about issues regarding the documents which may include:
- Bank statements
- General ledger / list of transactions
- Investment statements
- Loan balances
If the CPA corrects any errors, these corrections need to be recorded in a journal. The CPA will also have to submit a compilation report that says that the information within reflects the management of the business and that the information hasn’t been audited and therefore doesn’t provide any assurance.