The Difference Between Audit, Review, And Compilation

The Difference Between Audit, Review, And Compilation

You may have come across audit, review, and compilation terms when discussing financial statements as a business owner or financial expert. 

Despite their apparent similarity, these terms refer to various financial reporting and assurance degrees. 

The distinctions between these three categories of financial agreements are crucial to comprehend, since they may have a big impact on your company.

This blog post will go over the distinctions between an audit, a review, and a compilation, as well as the circumstances in which each type of engagement may be suitable. 

We'll also go over each engagement's major characteristics and the steps necessary to complete them. 

You ought to be able to identify which kind of interaction is most appropriate for your company's needs at the end of this post.

Understanding Audit:

The greatest level of financial involvement that offers a reasonable level of assurance that there are no serious misstatements in the financial statements is an audit. 

Independent auditors conduct audits in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) and provide a judgment on the accuracy of the financial statements.

An audit aims to reassure interested parties, including lenders, investors, and regulators, that the financial statements are accurate and reliable. 

An audit also reveals potential fraud or inaccuracies in the financial accounts and points out areas where financial controls should be strengthened.

A key component of an audit is:

  • A neutral auditor carries out the engagement.
  • The auditor gains knowledge of the internal control environment of the entity.
  • The auditor examines the financial statement account balances and disclosures for correctness and completeness.
  • The auditor gives an opinion on the fairness of the financial statements.

Here are some situations where an audit may be necessary:

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must audit the financial accounts of all publicly traded corporations.
  • If a loan deal contains an audit covenant, private corporations may be forced to undergo an audit by their lender.
  • If nonprofit organizations receive a particular amount of government or private contributors' funding, they could be forced to undergo an audit.

The following steps are frequently included in the audit process:

  • Planning and risk assessment: The auditor plans the audit, identifies potential material misstatement risks, and evaluates the efficiency of the entity's internal controls.
  • Control testing: The auditor tests the internal controls to ensure they operate efficiently.
  • Substantive testing: To assure the accuracy and completeness of account balances and disclosures, the auditor does substantive testing.
  • Results evaluation: The auditor assesses the findings of the audit methods and formulates a conclusion regarding the accuracy of the financial statements.

An audit offers the highest level of assurance compared to a review or compilation and is the most thorough and in-depth financial engagement type. An audit, however, can also be the most costly and time-consuming activity.

Understanding Review

Compared to an audit, which offers only a weak level of confidence that there are no substantial misstatements in the financial statements, a review is a less involved and expensive activity.

An independent auditor who adheres to GAAS also conducts reviews, but the scope of the engagement is smaller than that of an audit.

A review's objective is to give interested parties a moderate level of comfort that the financial statements are accurate. 

A review also highlights potential fraud or inaccuracies in the financial statements and areas where financial controls should be strengthened.

Among a review's essential components are:

  • A neutral auditor carries out the engagement.
  • In order to assess the financial statements, the auditor conducts analytical processes and investigations.
  • Whether any significant changes to the financial accounts need to be made is the subject of the auditor's report.

When a review may be necessary, such instances are:

  • If a private company's loan agreement has a review condition, the lender may be compelled to conduct a review.
  • If nonprofit organizations obtain a particular amount of government or private contributors' support, they could be compelled to undergo a review.

The following steps are often part of the review process:

  • Planning: The auditor organizes the review and specifies the locations of the analytical processes and questions.
  • Analytical procedures and inquiries: The auditor conducts analytical procedures and queries to assess the financial statements.
  • Evaluation of findings: The auditor assesses the findings of the investigative procedures and analyses before issuing a report on whether any significant changes to the financial statements need to be made.

A review offers a reasonable level of confidence compared to an audit, while being less involved and more affordable. 

The confidence it offers, meanwhile, is also lower than that of an audit, and it could not be enough for some stakeholders, including investors, who demand a greater standard of assurance.

Understanding Compilation

At the lowest level of financial engagement, a compilation offers no guarantee that there are no substantial omissions from the financial accounts. 

An accountant who aids the organization in producing financial statements but doesn't perform any auditing or review procedures performs a compilation.

In order to present financial statements in line with generally accepted accounting standards (GAAP), the organization needs the assistance of a compilation. 

A compilation also detects potential inaccuracies in the financial statements and helps pinpoint areas where financial controls should be strengthened.

An essential component of a compilation is:

  • An accountant carries out the engagement.
  • The accountant works with the organization to present financial statements that follow GAAP.
  • The accountant carries out no auditing or review processes.
  • The accountant doesn't express an opinion or give any assurances on the financial statements.

When a compilation might be necessary, some instances are:

  • Small firms may choose to present their financial statements as a compilation if there are no regulatory or lender constraints.
  • If there are no regulations or donor restrictions, non-profit organizations may choose to provide their financial accounts as a compilation.

The following steps are commonly involved in the compilation process:

  • Financial statement preparation: The accountant helps the entity put together financial statements that adhere to GAAP.
  • Documentation and communication: The accountant discloses any significant flaws or material errors found during the process and documents the compilation procedures that were carried out.

A compilation offers the lowest level of assurance and is the least rigorous and thorough sort of financial engagement when compared to an audit or review. 

For small firms or nonprofit organizations, though, it can be a more affordable choice if they don't need a higher level of confidence.

In conclusion, business owners and financial experts must comprehend the distinctions between an audit, a review, and a compilation. 

Each kind of involvement offers a unique level of certainty and can greatly impact stakeholders. 

The right involvement in choosing will rely on a number of things, including stakeholder needs, lender covenants, and regulatory obligations. 

By speaking with a qualified accountant, you may figure out which kind of engagement is most appropriate for your company's needs.

Which One Should I Choose?

The right kind of financial involvement to use will depend on a number of things, including regulatory constraints, lender covenants, stakeholder needs, and the size and complexity of the company.

  • Regulatory requirements: Regulations may dictate that some organizations, such as publicly traded companies, must perform audits. Lenders or regulatory bodies may require a review or compilation of other businesses.
  • Lender covenants: Entities with loan agreements with lenders may be required to carry out a specific type of financial engagement, such as a review or compilation, to satisfy the loan covenants.
  • Needs of stakeholders: Audits or reviews may be necessary for organizations with funders or investors wanting higher assurance.
  • Size and complexity of the entity: Larger and more complex entities may require higher assurance, such as an audit, due to the higher risk of significant misrepresentation in their financial statements.

Following consideration of all of these factors and consultation with a licensed accountant, the final decision regarding the form of engagement should be made.

As a result, every type of financial contact offers a different level of security and can significantly affect stakeholders. 

An audit offers the highest level of assurance, but it is also the most costly and time-consuming. 

A review is less detailed and more affordable than an audit, while offering moderate confidence. 

A compilation offers the lowest level of assurance, which is also the least thorough and thorough financial engagement. 

You can decide which engagement is most appropriate for your company's objectives by considering elements including legal requirements, lender covenants, stakeholder needs, entity size, and complexity.


Business owners and financial professionals must comprehend the differences between audits, reviews, and compilations. Stakeholders may be affected by different engagement types.

Audits cost the most and take the longest. Reviewing is less expensive and provides moderate assurance than auditing. Compilations are the least thorough and reliable financial involvement.

Regulations, lender covenants, stakeholder needs, business size, and complexity determine the right involvement. Professional accountants can help you choose the right engagement for your firm.

Small firms and non-profits that do not need greater assurance may benefit from a review or compilation instead of an audit.

Any financial engagement should give stakeholders trustworthy financial data. Choose the right involvement to ensure your financial statements are accurate, dependable, and meet stakeholder expectations.

FAQ’s Related to Difference between an Audit, a Review, and a Compilation

1. What differentiates an audit from a review?

An audit provides the highest level of confidence, whereas a review offers a moderate level of assurance. While a review contains analytical methods and queries to offer only limited confidence, an audit requires elaborate procedures to ensure that financial statements are free from substantial misstatements.

2. Why would a company opt for a compilation over an audit or review?

If an entity doesn't need a greater level of assurance or if it is more affordable for their company, they may decide to have a compilation rather than an audit or review. The least thorough kind of financial involvement is a compilation, which is often utilized internally or to satisfy regulatory obligations.

3. What kinds of organizations, for instance, must undergo an audit?

Large privately held businesses, publicly listed corporations, and organizations that receive federal support may all be obliged by law or regulatory agencies to undergo an audit.

4. How long does an audit, review, or compilation normally take to complete?

The length of time required to execute each type of engagement varies depending on a number of variables, including the size and complexity of the business, the accuracy of its financial records, and the accessibility of key individuals. A review or a compilation may take less time to complete than an audit, which normally takes many weeks or months.

5. What part does a certified public accountant play in a financial engagement?

Conducting the engagement, carrying out the procedures to offer assurance on the financial statements, and writing a report summarizing their findings are all the responsibilities of a professional accountant. Additionally, they offer suggestions for enhancing the organization's internal controls and financial reporting.

Contact Us for Startup Valuation Services ,Business Valuation Services ,ESOP Valuation Consultants,Fund Raising Valuation , Valuation Services , Internal Audits Services  in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, and all across India: write to us at Or Call On :(+91)-9711021268 +91-9310165114

- Share this post on -

Especia in news

Contact us