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What can assurance cover?

Where businesses or stakeholders identify a particular need to build confidence in information and reinforce relationships of trust assurance can play a valuable role. Statutory audit is by far the best known and most widely practiced of this kind of service, but it is far from being the only option.

Internal audit

Internal audits offer organisations the opportunity to examine a wide range of business activities, both financial and non-financial, such as information security, corporate governance and social responsibility. Internal audits require many of the same skills and knowledge of external audits, but are also subject to unique pressures reflective of working within the organisation being examined.

The Audit and Assurance Faculty and ICAEW's Internal Audit Panel has collated a range of resources to support the provision of effective internal audits, including links to professional standards and guidance, and a series of insightful discussions on the challenges and opportunities practitioners face.

Commissioning external assurance

For many organisations an independent expert expressing assurance on information provides a strong signal that reports are trustworthy and offers access to skillsets that may not be available internally. 

While there are a range of recognised assurance engagement topics (see below), commissioning an external assurance provider offers organisations the ability to develop ad hoc engagements to meet the needs of their business. 

To support practitioners and those responsible for commissioning and using assurance reports, ICAEW Audit and Assurance Faculty has provided key guidance on developing new assurance engagements from first principles through the Assurance Sourcebook and the accompanying technical release AAF 02/07: A framework for assurance reports on third party operations.

External assurance services by subject matter:

Unaudited financial statements

Many organisations that are exempt from mandatory audits seek independent assurance of their financial statements. There are a range of services available including: accounts preparation; agreed upon procedures and assurance reviews.

Assurance: benchmarks and indices

ICAEW’s guidance to assist assurance practitioners engaged to perform work on submission to, or compilation of, benchmarks, indices and independent price reports.

Information services

This guidance, Technical Release ITF 01/07: Assurance reports on the outsourced provision of information services and information processing service, was issued by the Information Technology Faculty of the ICAEW.

Internal controls

Working together with stakeholders including the National Association of Pension Funds and service providers, the ICAEW issued AAF 01/06 - Assurance reports on internal controls of service organisations made available to third parties - in June 2006. AAF 01/06 supports assurance engagements to provide comfort over the design, implementation and operating effectiveness of controls.

Non-financial information

Assurance can be provided on information that is entirely non-financial and ICAEW provides practical guidance on the opportunities and challenges offered by such engagements.

Pension Master Trusts

Master Trusts are designed by pension providers to manage the pension assets of auto-enrolled employees and can accommodate the pension assets of many businesses. ICAEW has provided guidance on how assurance of such Master Trusts can be undertaken.

Sustainability

ICAEW's Audit and Assurance Faculty has published information highlighting key issues around the assurance of sustainability information using a series of questions and answers.