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Becoming an Independent Examiner, why you should consider it



Farah Mendlesohn

Development Manager,

Association of Charity Independent Examiners



There are around 21,000 charities in Scotland and another 60,000 plus charities in England and Wales who are eligible for Independent Examination. In Scotland all charities too small for audit must have an independent examination, and in England & Wales those between £50,000 and £1m turnover must, with many smaller charities choosing


to secure Independent Examination periodically as part of their programme of good governance.


An independent examination is a form of external scrutiny of the accounts which:

is a statement that nothing has been found that needs to be brought to the attention of readers of the accounts (or the opposite if this is the case).

· is less rigorous than an audit

· is less costly than an audit.

Charity independent examinations are a form of assurance engagement. It involves reviewing the accounting records and the annual accounts of the charity and considering whether the annual accounts properly reflect the underlying records. It is usually less onerous than an audit because the scope of the engagement is narrowly defined and doesn’t involve providing an opinion on whether the accounts are ‘true and fair’. But it is a significant legal role. As an Independent Examiner you are the first line of defense against fraud or other malfeasance.


The independent examiner’s report is prepared on an ‘exception’ basis. This means that there is an assumption that the examiner is content with the accounting records and accounts unless they specifically state otherwise. The report is intended to be simpler than an audit and no opinion is expressed on whether the accounts give a “true and fair view”.


There are not enough Independent Examiners in the country, and particularly in the more remote regions.


Although an Independent Examination can be conducted remotely, many charities prefer to work with people closer to home. ACIE trains people in Independent Examination and supports Examiners with legal and technical accounting queries.



Who can be an Independent Examiner?

Independence is defined as being independent of the charity.

The following are not considered to be “independent”.

The minister of the church whose accounts are being scrutinized.

A close relative of the book keeper.

A friend, relative or business partner of a Trustee or Chair.

A relative of someone leaving a legacy.


For R&P accounts this is all that is required.


You do need to have Professional Indemnity insurance and ACIE can provide that at low cost.


Receipts and payments accounts are a simple form of accounting that broadly consists of a summary of all monies received and paid by the charity during its financial year, along with a statement of balances at the year end.


Under the 2006 Regulations, receipts and payments accounts must consist of:

a Trustees’ Annual Report

a Statement of Receipts and Payments

a Statement of Balances as at the last day of the financial year notes to the accounts.

Plus a report from an independent examiner or auditor.



Accruals

For charities producing fully accrued accounts, the independent examination must be carried out by an individual who is appropriately qualified and has the necessary knowledge and skills to examine more complex accounts. Your own accounting body may be licensed to qualify you, but if not, ACIE has a route to qualification. For more information on the Independent Examination of Accruals, contact ACIE at Admin@acie.org.uk


What ACIE can do to support you.

Professional Indemnity Insurance (£100 for Affiliates)

Training: webinars, workshops, & annual conference.

Qualification as a full member in R&P and/or Accruals IE.

Advice on technical problems.

Sample engagement letters and other material.

The Independent Examination Workbook.


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