As the year ends, homeowners and condominium associations face the vital decision of conducting a financial review or an audit. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have different purposes. Understanding the differences between a financial review and an audit is essential for HOA accounting and making an informed decision that benefits the community.

Understanding a Financial Review

If you are wondering about the difference between an HOA financial review and an audit, a review is a less intensive examination. An accountant or financial professional evaluates the financial records to ensure they are reasonable and consistent with accepted accounting principles. The review process involves analytical procedures but does not include the in-depth verification of transactions or internal controls included in audits.

Benefits of a Financial Review

The primary benefit of a HOA financial review is cost-effectiveness. Reviews are usually less expensive than audits, making them an attractive option for more minor associations with limited budgets. In addition, reviews are quicker, providing timely insights into the association’s financial health. A financial review is also a preliminary step before deciding whether a more comprehensive audit is needed.

Understanding an Audit

An audit is a thorough and comprehensive examination of an HOA’s financial statements, usually conducted by an independent certified public accountant (CPA). The audit process includes verifying the accuracy of financial records, assessing internal controls, and confirming the presence of assets and liabilities. Auditors perform detailed testing of transactions and obtain evidence to support their findings, which provides assurance about the accuracy and reliability of the financial statements.

Benefits of an Audit

The primary advantage of auditing over reviewing HOA finances is the assurance it provides. Audits offer a detailed and objective assessment of an association’s financial health, making them invaluable for identifying discrepancies, fraud, or financial mismanagement. This builds trust among homeowners and stakeholders, ensuring that financial operations are transparent and accountable. Also, an audit can recommend financial practices and internal controls for long-term financial stability.

Choosing Between a Review and an Audit

Deciding whether to conduct a financial review or an audit depends on the association’s size, the complexity of its financial operations, and regulatory requirements. Smaller associations with straightforward finances and limited budgets may find a review sufficient for their needs. However, more prominent associations or those with more complex financial activities may benefit from an audit’s comprehensive assessment.

Understanding a financial review vs an audit is crucial for HOAs and condominium associations as they plan for the future. While these tools provide valuable insights into financial health, they differ in scope, cost, and assurance levels. For HOA accounting services, consult the professionals at Abel Accountants to make the best choice to maintain financial integrity and trust.