We frequently receive queries from clients asking why the documents they have submitted for their audit must be signed. Often, we receive documents that are partially completed. For example, the document could be signed by the trustees but not dated and therefore delays the release of the audit reports.
So, what documents must be signed and why is it so important?
Simply put, it’s the law.
Section 35B(1) of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 requires the trustee of the superfund to provide the following documents:
- A statement of financial position
- An operating statement
We often receive financials that are unsigned. Apart from the legalities under legislation (S35B(3)), the document needs to be signed so that we as the auditors know that either the trustees or the directors of the corporation have accepted and approved the financial statement as accurate and correct.
We also require important regulatory documents signed, which include:
- Trust deed
- Letter of engagement
- Trustee representation letter
- Investment strategy
These documents must be provided to us for two reasons. The first is that ATO requires the trust deed to be available at every audit and that it be signed by all trustees. Secondly, the Auditing Standards published by the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board requires that a signed engagement letter be presented. This is to protect both parties, so that the client is aware of the services they are receiving from the auditor and that the auditor accepts the appointment.
The trustee representation letter is slightly different. This is because auditing every investment is impossible and therefore auditors need to rely on the representations of the trustees. This letter is signed and presented to us as part of the audit pack allows assurance that everything contained in the audit pack is a true representation of the position of the fund.
We ask for these documents for legal and regulatory reasons. The failure by the trustees to provide these documents holds up the audit. This is neither beneficial to the trustees of the fund, their accountant/financial planner and us as the auditors.
At times it might seem like we are finicky, but we aim to get the audit completed as soon as possible. Our firmness in seeking these signed documents aims to reduce the risk for all parties involved and provide the best possible service to clients that we can.