Five Way to Reduce Engagement Stress

Audit and tax time can be stressful, we get it. Preparing for and working with your accountant until the engagement is complete takes time and effort, in addition to your regular, daily duties of keeping things running. Here are some ways to reduce that engagement-time stress and make the process as smooth as possible.  

1.   Organization . Transactions and events occur all year long, not only at year-end. By taking the small extra step of saving and organizing those important documents for your accountant as they occur, you can reduce time digging through your records as you prepare for your year-end engagement. Some additional tips to keep organized are:  

–   Use last year as a guide for what may be asked for/requested this year. Refer to your Prepared By Client (PBC) list or tax organizer that you received from your accountant last year, this can be an excellent checklist to get started.  
–   Keep track of what has been sent or received, both in the current and prior year. A good way to do this is to create a separate “audit” or “tax” folder and organize by year.  

2.   Communication . Your relationship with your accountant doesn’t start and end with a specific engagement. If you have unusual events come up or need guidance during the year, give us a call. Asking questions throughout the year also aids in keeping us informed.  

3.   Analytics. Subject your account balances to an analytical review prior to sending your records to your accountant. Compare balances to prior year and to each other for reasonable relationships. You will either find adjustments that are required or have explanations for unexpected balances or relationships ready for when your accountant questions them.  

4.   Self-Review. Before finalizing your documentation, double-check that it agrees to the balances being supported. For example, your year-end bank reconciliation balances to the current general ledger balance. Another way to think about this is essentially you are auditing yourself (which can be fun to think of yourself as an auditor!). This ensures any potential errors or oversight can be caught and rectified by you prior to your accountant, which can cut down on engagement time and stress, both for you and your accountant.  

5.   Availability. Keep personal/business calendars as open as possible during your scheduled engagement. This will ensure you are both mentally and physically available. Otherwise, communicate with your accountant about any schedule conflicts so we can work with you.  

Submitted by: Tonya Thompson and Kelly Gooderham