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The type of financial statement used will depend on the needs of the financial statement users or stakeholders. Common users of financial statements are:
- Shareholders and other investors
- Creditors and lenders
- Government agencies
- General public
An auditor’s responsibility is to ensure that the financial statements are free from material misstatements due to fraud or error. They provide reasonable assurance, which is not an absolute level of assurance. An audit provides the highest level of assurance (reasonable assurance) and the communication provided to users is an Independent Auditors Report.
A review engagement mainly includes inquiry, analytical procedures, and discussion related to information supplied by the entity. The goal of a review is to determine whether the information being reported in the financial statement is plausible, or in other words if the information is worthy of belief. A review engagement provides a moderate level of assurance and the communication provided to users is a Review Engagement Report.
A notice to reader engagement includes compiling the financial statements based on the information supplied by the entity. This is the lowest level of CPA involvement as there is no assurance expressed on these financial statements. The communication provided to users is called Notice to Reader report.