While the clients work on their accounts, we begin looking through everything that goes into them, from the transactions in the last two to three months of the year to all major year-end estimates and adjustments. The best place to do this work is at the client’s own offices as we often need to meet with them to discuss how the numbers are calculated and to see the evidence that supports them.
As a result large parts of the NAO’s offices become ghost towns as the financial audit teams disperse to glamorous locations across the UK such as Bristol, Swindon, Milton Keynes and East Kilbride (just outside Glasgow). There they will live out of suitcases until the audit work is done. It can actually be really nice to spend some time outside London however, and meals out, bowling, laser quest and even indoor skiing are all examples of the silver linings to the nomadic lifestyle that goes with final audit.
As well as the busiest time, final audit is also the most rewarding point of the financial audit cycle. When you arrive at the client’s office there’s a strong sense of the job in hand and the determination to get it done is palpable in the team. This year many of our value for money audit colleagues will also be joining the financial teams, lending their support to help us complete our work on schedule. This will reduce the pressure on financial auditors as well as fostering more collaborative working across the Office.