Four things to make your SRA Audit easier
Every year, solicitors are required to report to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) about monies passing through client accounts and ensure they adhere to the rules outlined in the SRA Handbook – previously a 400+ page document!
The current Accounts Rules set out how solicitor firms should run their accounting systems in minute detail and aside from the headaches and late night reading, this creates logistical problems for firms as they try their best to be compliant. For some it is difficult to be compliant at all.
To add to this, there was little consolation in the fact that the SRA knew how complicated the process was and that it would often end up with solicitor firms suffering technical breaches.
All is not lost!
However, following extensive consultation, on 13 June 2017 the SRA announced the first phase of changes to its Handbook, acknowledging that the current rules were too complex, onerous and costly to apply and that there was broad support for simplifying it.
As a result, the first phase of revisions to the SRA Handbook will create shorter and clearer principles and codes, as well as much simpler Accounts Rules.
With the revisions, accountants will be able to produce shorter, faster and more accurate risk-focused audits for solicitors in far less time. But while solicitors have six months from year end to get the reports in order – a lot of information needs to be gathered from a number of sources. In this process, a lot of the documentation is paper-based and the Reporting Accountant might miss breaches or fail to track and summarise them. There are also the problems of validating information and getting sign off from the client, as well as managing client information and tailoring the audit file.
Introducing the CaseWare SRA Audit tool
Therefore, to help Reporting Accountants with the changes to the SRA Handbook, we launched our Cloud-based, pay-per-use SRA Audit tool in February 2018.
The CaseWare SRA Audit tool has been designed to streamline the reporting process and empower accountants with the means to build account reports, collaborate with clients and validate information all in one single environment.
- Track breaches and summarise findings
The SRA Audit tool takes the heavy lifting out of the SRA audit process, allowing accountants to track breaches in relation to the SRA rules and to summarise them in a single document. Also, rules are directly hyperlinked from the SRA Handbook, making it easy for the Reporting Accountant to see the objective of the test and to ensure that the audit is conducted in line with regulations.
- Restructure the accounting environment to meet business needs
The revisions to the SRA Handbook gives firms greater control over their accounting environment. Historically, Account Rules specified how firms should proceed. Now, however, firms can assess risk on their own basis and design their own procedures. This process is also much easier to manage in a digital environment. The SRA Audit tool enables users to build their own procedures, as well as collaborate on live information in a Cloud-based environment.
- Produce shorter, faster, risk-focused audits
As a Cloud-based tool, clients and accountants can collaborate on files simultaneously in a secure environment to ensure absolute accuracy. Files are no longer sent back and forth in paper format to collect information; reducing the admin costs for the business, files are tracked upon receipt, improving document visibility, and the audit process is streamlined thanks to real-time collaboration.
- Collaborate and validate in the same environment
The SRA audit tool gives accountants the ability to issue multiple queries at template level in relation to procedures. Responses can also be linked to procedures in checklists throughout the engagement. The client can then respond to these queries in the same environment and rectify any issues. The CaseWare SRA audit tool also includes checklists that users can set up to include references and guidance on procedures, ensuring each step of the process is followed correctly. Individual procedures can then be signed off and validated.
The changes that the SRA have made to their handbook should be commended as they have listened to feedback from the industry and acted upon it. Now it’s time for you to act and make your SRA audit easier.
To find out more about our SRA audit tool, please click the button below.