The following auditing interpretation reflects references to standards before their reorganization. The reorganized auditing interpretation is available here.
AU Section 9504
Association With Financial Statements: Auditing Interpretations of Section 504
1. Annual Report Disclosure of Unaudited Fourth Quarter Interim Data
Question—APB Opinion No. 28, paragraph 31 [AC section I73.147], which applies to publicly traded companies, states: "If interim financial data and disclosures are not separately reported for the fourth quarter, security holders often make inferences about that quarter by subtracting data based on the third quarter interim report from the annual results. In the absence of a separate fourth quarter report or disclosure of the results . . . for that quarter in the annual report, disposals of segments of a business and extraordinary, unusual, or infrequently occurring items recognized in the fourth quarter, as well as the aggregate effect of year-end adjustments which are material to the results of that quarter . . . shall be disclosed in the annual report in a note to the annual financial statements." Does the auditor have an obligation, arising from the disclosure requirements of paragraph 31 of Opinion No. 28 [AC section I73.147], to audit interim data?
Interpretation—No. If the auditor has not been specifically engaged to audit interim information, he does not have an obligation to audit interim data as a result of his audit of the annual financial statements.
Disclosure of fourth quarter adjustments and other disclosures required by paragraph 31 [AC section I73.147] would appear in a note to the annual financial statements of a publicly traded company only if fourth quarter data were not separately distributed or did not appear elsewhere in the annual report. Consequently, such disclosures are not essential for a fair presentation of the annual financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
If interim financial data and disclosures are not separately reported (as outlined in paragraph 30 of Opinion No. 28 [AC section I73.146]) for the fourth quarter, the independent auditor, during his audit of the annual financial statements, should inquire as to whether there are fourth quarter items that need to be disclosed in a note to the annual financial statements.
Information on fourth quarter adjustments and similar items that appear in notes to the annual financial statements to comply with paragraph 31 of Opinion No. 28 [AC section I73.147] would ordinarily not be audited separately and, therefore, the information would be labeled "unaudited" or "not covered by auditor's report."
If a publicly traded company fails to comply with the provisions of paragraph 31 of Opinion No. 28 [AC section I73.147], the auditor should suggest appropriate revision; failing that, he should call attention in his report to the omission of the information. The auditor need not qualify his opinion on the annual financial statements since the disclosure is not essential for a fair presentation of those statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
Reference should be made to section 722 for guidance with respect to reviews of interim financial information of SEC registrants or non-SEC registrants that make a filing with a regulatory agency in preparation for a public offering or listing.
[Issue Date: November, 1979; Revised: November, 2002.]
[2.] Association of the Auditor of an Acquired Company With Unaudited Statements in a Listing Application
[Deleted May, 1980.]
[3.] Association of the Auditor of the Acquiring Company With Unaudited Statements in a Listing Application
[Deleted May, 1980.]
4. Auditor's Identification With Condensed Financial Data
Question—Section 150.02 states in part: "In all cases where an auditor's name is associated with financial statements, the report should contain a clear-cut indication of the character of the auditor's work, if any, and the degree of responsibility the auditor is taking." Section 504.03 states that "An accountant is associated with financial statements when he has consented to the use of his name in a report, document, or written communication containing the statements." Is the auditor "associated" with condensed financial data when he is identified by a financial reporting service as being a company's independent auditor or when his report is reproduced and presented with such data?
Interpretation—No. The accountant has not consented to the use of his name when it is published by a financial reporting service. Financial data released to the public by a company and the name of its auditor are public information. Accordingly, neither the auditor nor his client has the ability to require a financial reporting service to withhold publishing such information.
Financial reporting services, such as Dun & Bradstreet and Moody's Investors Service, furnish to subscribers information and ratings concerning commercial enterprises as a basis for credit, insurance, marketing and other business purposes. Those reports frequently include condensed financial data and other data such as payments to trade creditors, loan experience with banks, a brief history of the entity and a description of its operations. Also, as part of its report, the financial service often discloses the names of the officers and directors or principals or owners of the company and the name of the company's auditor.
In the context in which the auditor's name appears, it is doubtful that readers will assume that he has audited the information presented. However, the AICPA has suggested to certain financial reporting services that they identify data as "unaudited" if the data has been extracted from unaudited financial statements. Also, the AICPA has suggested that when summarized financial data is presented together with an auditor's report on complete financial statements (including notes), the financial reporting services state that the auditor's report applies to the complete financial statements which are not presented.
[Issue Date: November, 1979.]
5. Applicability of Guidance on Reporting When Not Independent
Question—Section 504 describes the reporting responsibilities of the certified public accountant who has determined that he is not independent with respect to financial statements with which he is associated. That section, however, does not indicate how he should determine whether he is independent. What should the certified public accountant consider in determining whether he is independent? Also, should his consideration be any different for an engagement to prepare unaudited financial statements?
Interpretation—Section 504 explains the certified public accountant's reporting responsibilities when he is not independent. However, it does not attempt to explain how the certified public accountant determines whether he is independent because that is a question of professional ethics. Section 220.04 states: "The profession has established, through the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, precepts to guard against the . . . loss of independence." The AICPA, state CPA societies and state boards of accountancy have issued pronouncements to provide the certified public accountant with guidance to aid him in determining whether he is independent.
The certified public accountant should consider the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct in determining whether he is independent and whether the reporting requirements of section 504 apply. He should also consider the ethical requirements of his state CPA society or state board of accountancy.
Section 504.10 states that the reporting guidance applies, regardless of the extent of procedures applied, (emphasis added) in all circumstances other than when the financial statements are those of a non-public entity. fn 1 Thus, the accountant's consideration of whether he is independent should be the same whether the financial statements are audited or unaudited.
[Issue Date: November, 1979.]
[6.] Reporting on Solvency
[Rescinded May, 1988 by the issuance of attestation interpretation, "Responding to Requests for Reports on Matters Relating to Solvency."] (See AT section 9101.23–.33.) [Revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]