According to ISA 210, the principal contents of an engagement letter include reference to:-
a) The objective of the audit of financial statements.
b) Managements responsibility for the financial statements
c) The scope of the audit, including reference to applicable legislation, regulations, or pronouncements of professional bodies to which the auditor adheres.
d) The form of any reports or other communication of results of the engagement.
e) The fact that because of the test nature and other inherent limitations of an audit together with the inherent limitations of any accounting and Internal Control System, there is an unavoidable risk that even some material misstatement may remain undiscovered.
f) Unrestricted access to whatever records, documentation and other information requested in connection with the audit.
The auditor may also wish to include in the letter:
• Arrangement regarding the planning of the audit
• Expectation of receiving from management written confirmation concerning representations made in connection with the audit
• Request for the client to confirm the terms of the engagement by acknowledging receipt of the engagement letter
• Description of any other letters or reports the auditor expects to issue to the client
• Basis on which fees are computed and any billing arrangement.
When relevant the following points could also be made:
• Arrangements concerning the involvement of other auditors and experts in some aspects of the audit.
• Arrangements concerning the involvement of internal auditors and other client staff
• Arrangements to be made with the predecessor auditor, if any, in the case of an initial audit.
• Any restriction of the auditor‘s liability when such possibility exists.
• A reference to any further agreements between the auditor and the client.
The appendix to ISA 210, contains an example of an engagement letter and it is reproduced below:-
To the Board of Directors or the appropriate representative of senior management:
You have requested that we audit the balance sheet of ……. as of ………….. and the related statements of income and cash flows for the year then ending. We are pleased to confirm our acceptance and our understanding of this engagement by means of this letter. Our audit will be made with the objective of our expressing an opinion on the financial statements.
We will conduct our audit in accordance with International Standards on Auditing (or refer to relevant national standards or practices). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatements. An audit includes examining on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation.
Because of the test nature and other inherent limitations of an audit, together with the inherent limitations of any accounting and internal control system, there is an unavoidable risk that even some material misstatements may remain undiscovered.
In addition to our report on the financial statements, we expect to provide you with a separate letter concerning any material weaknesses in accounting and internal control systems which come to our notice.
We remind you that the responsibility for the preparation of financial statements including adequate disclosure is that of the management of the company. This includes the maintenance of adequate accounting records and internal controls, the selection and application of accounting policies, and the safeguarding of the assets of the company. As part of our audit process, we will request from management written confirmation concerning representations made to us in connection with the audit.
We look forward to full cooperation with your staff and we trust that they will make available to us whatever records, documentation and other information are requested in connection with our audit. Our fees, which will be billed as work progresses, are based on the time required by the individuals assigned to the engagement plus out-of pocket expenses. Individual hourly rates vary according to the degree of responsibility involved and the experience and skill required.
This letter will be effective for future years unless it is terminated, amended or superseded.
Please sign and return the attached copy of this letter to indicate that it is in accordance with your understanding of the arrangements for our audit of the financial statements.
Acknowledged on behalf of ABC Company by
…………….. Name and Title Date