In accounting and auditing, “attest” refers to the process of providing an independent opinion or assurance about the accuracy, fairness, and reliability of an entity’s financial statements, internal controls, or other relevant financial information. Attest services are typically performed by certified public accountants (CPAs) or external auditors, who review and analyze the company’s financial records to ensure that they comply with applicable accounting standards, laws, and regulations.
The primary purpose of attestation is to provide confidence to stakeholders, such as investors, creditors, and regulators, that the company’s financial information is a true and accurate representation of its financial position and performance. This helps stakeholders make informed decisions based on reliable information.
For example, when an external auditor examines a company’s financial statements and issues an unqualified audit opinion, they are attesting that the financial statements present a fair view of the company’s financial position and that they are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or other relevant accounting standards.
Example of Attest
Let’s consider a hypothetical example of an attest service.
Company ABC is a publicly traded corporation. At the end of its fiscal year, the company prepares its financial statements, including the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. Company ABC hires an external audit firm, XYZ Auditors, to perform an independent audit of its financial statements.
XYZ Auditors carefully review Company ABC’s financial records, accounting policies, and internal controls. They gather sufficient evidence to assess the accuracy and completeness of the financial statements. Upon completing their audit, XYZ Auditors determine that Company ABC’s financial statements fairly represent its financial position and comply with the relevant accounting standards (e.g., GAAP).
XYZ Auditors then issue an unqualified audit opinion, attesting that Company ABC’s financial statements are fairly presented and in accordance with the applicable accounting standards. This audit opinion provides confidence to the company’s stakeholders, such as investors and creditors, that the financial information they rely on for decision-making is reliable and accurate.
In this example, the external auditors (XYZ Auditors) provided an attest service by independently reviewing and verifying the accuracy of Company ABC’s financial statements.