What Is the Difference Between a Compilation, a Review and an Audit? Part 1 of 3

The following article was published by the American Institute of CPAs.

businessmanThe level of service is determined by your needs as the client, and what your creditors and/or investors require. The higher the level of service required, the more time the CPA needs to complete the engagement and therefore the more costly the engagement. While privately held companies opt for compiled or reviewed statements, credit agreements with lenders often require audited statements.


  • Compiled financial statements represent the most basic level of service CPAs provide with respect to financial statements.
  • In a compilation engagement, the accountant assists management in presenting financial information in the form of financial statements  without undertaking to obtain or provide any assurance that there are no material modifications that should be made to the financial statements.

  • In a compilation, the CPA must comply with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARSs), which require the accountant to have an understanding of the industry in which the client operates, obtain knowledge about the client, and read the financial statements and consider whether such financial statements appear appropriate in form and free from obvious material errors.
  • A compilation does not contemplate performing inquiry, analytical procedures, or other procedures ordinarily performed in a review; or obtaining an understanding of the entity’s internal control; assessing fraud risk; or testing of accounting records; or other procedures ordinarily performed in an audit.
  • The CPA issues a report stating the compilation was performed in accordance with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services; and that the accountant has not audited or reviewed the financial statements and accordingly does not express an opinion or provide any assurance about whether the financial statements are in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework.

About cozbycpa

Heather L. Cozby is a CPA on the South Shore and Cape Cod. The managing partner of Cozby & Company, LLC, Heather has the resources and experience necessary to provide quality professional services on a timely basis and at a reasonable cost. She specializes in tax planning & preparation; audit, review & compilation services; management advisory services; bookkeeping; and accounting. Her unique niche is in working with homeowners’ associations and condominium trusts, advising with rental real estate, and providing outsourced financial consulting for mid-sized companies. She is more entrepreneurial than most accountants, and offers the best of both worlds - providing the services of a larger firm while retaining the ability to connect with her clients on a personal level.
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