Should I consider being an independent examiner?
Many IFA members are approached by charities to undertake independent examinations. IFA members can conduct independent examinations of charities with a gross income of over the £250,000 threshold because the IFA is on the regulator’s prescribed list criterion, which in turn is based on UK jurisdictional legislation. This is one of the many beneﬁts of being an IFA member and part of a professional body.
What is an independent examination?
Charity independent examinations are a form of assurance engagement. It involves reviewing the accounting records and the annual accounts of the charity and considering whether the annual accounts properly reﬂect the underlying records. It is usually less onerous than an audit because the scope of the engagement is narrowly deﬁned and doesn’t involve providing an opinion on whether the accounts are ‘true and fair’.
Can all charities have an independent examination?
Well, it depends. The type of independent external scrutiny that can be provided to a charity depends
on a charity’s governing document, gross income and net assets, whether or not the charity is a company and the jurisdiction of where it operates.
In England and Wales, trustees can choose an independent examination if the charity’s gross income is:
- more than £25,000, but not more than £1m, provided that…
- if its gross income is more than £250,000, its gross assets (ﬁxed assets plus current assets) are £3.26m or less.
Since charity law is devolved in the UK, the thresholds for independent examinations and who can conduct them vary by jurisdiction.
What are the key considerations to become an independent examiner?
Before starting an independent examination, the examiner must understand the responsibilities of both the examiner and the trustees in relation to the scrutiny, preparation and ﬁling of accounts. Some key considerations for becoming an independent examiner are:
- Am I suﬃciently independent of the charity? The independent examiner must not have a connection with the charity or its trustees, which might inhibit or be perceived to inhibit the impartial conduct of the examination. The charity regulator(s) include independence in their respective guides for independent examiners. In addition to the requirements imposed by the relevant charity regulator(s), members should have regard to the independence requirements of Part 4A of the IFA Code of Ethics: tinyurl.com/ifa-8539.
- Am I professionally competent to provide this service? Independent examiners must have the necessary knowledge relating to charity legislation, regulations, the Charities SORP (FRS 102) and accounting standards.
- Do I need a practising certiﬁ cate, professional indemnity insurance and AML supervision? If you are conducting independent examinations for reward, you will need an IFA practicising certiﬁcate, AML supervision and professional indemnity insurance. Further information in IFA’s Public Practice Regulations: tinyurl. com/ifa-8537.
HOW DO I UNDERTAKE AN INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION?
Guidance on completing an independent examination is available from the relevant charity regulator(s):
- CCEW – Independent examination of charity accounts: examiners (CC32): tinyurl.com/ ifa-8531
- OSCR – Independent examination: A guide for independent examiners: tinyurl.com/ifa-8533
- CCNI – Independent examination of charity accounts: examiner’s guide (ARR07): tinyurl. com/ifa-8535