Complex accounting estimates — such as allowances for doubtful accounts, impairments of long-lived assets, and valuations of financial and non-financial assets — have been blamed for many high-profile accounting scams and financial restatements. Estimates generally involve some level of measurement uncertainty, and some may even require the use of outside specialists, such as appraisers or engineers.
As a result, examining estimates is a critical part of an audit. Companies that understand the audit process are better equipped to facilitate audit fieldwork and can communicate more effectively with their auditors. Here’s what you need to know about auditing the use of estimates as we head into next audit season.