Comparative Overview: What is the Difference Between a Financial Statement Preparation, Compilation, Review and an Audit?

When a company’s financial statements are prepared or compiled by an external certified public accountant, it refers to a compilation of financial statements. The reason why the accountant does not offer any assurance in the compilation report is that he or she is not required to check the completeness or accuracy of the data given by the organization. The accountant is also not required to gather any evidence for the purpose of verifying the information provided. Although no assurance is given by the accountant, third parties will still appreciate an organization who hires an accountant for compilation services based on the professionalism, reputation, and skills of the accountant involved. Compilation standards permit an accountant to compile financial statements that omit footnote disclosures required by generally accepted accounting principles or another comprehensive basis of accounting (cash or income tax). This is allowable as long as the omission is clearly indicated in the report and there is no intent to mislead users.

He should also present a compilation report to the client under prescribed regulations. The implications of compilation also include no assurance, review, or internal control check, as in the case of reviewed or audited financial statements. The dictionary defines a compilation as the action of producing something, especially a list, book, or report, by assembling information collected from other sources. In the accounting world, a compilation or “Notice to Reader” is the compilation of unaudited financial information into financial statements, schedules or reports based on the information supplied by management. Under a compilation, management takes responsibility for the preparation and presentation of the financial statements.

The accountant should create sufficient documentation to provide a clear understanding of the work that he has completed. This documentation should include the engagement letter, significant issues, and any communications to management regarding fraud or illegal acts noted by the accountant. The final step in producing an executable program — after the compiler has produced object code — is to pass the object code through a linker.

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The report aims to prevent misinterpretation of the information and the degree of responsibility of the accountant related to compilation. The definition of the compilation also clarifies the scope of management’s and accountant’s work that will be discussed in the next part of the article. However, the latter scenario is more affordable and convenient for small-budget companies as they can get the services of a CPA without incurring a recurring cost. Or we can say that the C compiler converts the pre-processed code into assembly code.

The linker combines modules and gives real values to all symbolic addresses, thereby producing machine code. On the other hand, an income statement, also called a profit and loss statement, presents operating results over a period of time, usually 12 months. The statement of cash flows, on the other hand, presents the sources and uses of cash along with the cash balance at the end of the period.

  • The linker combines modules and gives real values to all symbolic addresses, thereby producing machine code.
  • The report attached to the financial statement emphasizes that the service is a compilation.
  • After compiling the financial statements, consideration will be given to whether they are appropriate in form and free from obvious material errors.
  • The CPA expresses no assurance about the accuracy of the financial statements presented.
  • In this case, the American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants(AICPA) has outlined the standards and regulations for compiling financial statements.

The accountant providing the compilation services should have sufficient industry-level experience and knowledge of the client to compile the financial statements. It is important to find the proper balance between the cost of the CPA’s services and the level of assurance the users of the financial statements require. After completing the engagement, the accountant is required to submit financial statements. When the financial statements prepared by the accountant are to be used by external parties, he must also submit a report along with the financial statements. The accountant must possess an understanding level of the industry in which the client’s business operates. It includes understanding generally used accounting frameworks, procedures, and principles in most industry entities that will help accountants compile industry standards.

Section 80 also explains the duties and scope of the accountant’s work in case of compilation. Under regulations, the accountant has the following duties and responsibilities. Webopedia is an online information technology and computer science resource for IT professionals, students, and educators. Webopedia focuses on connecting researchers with IT resources that are most helpful for them. Webopedia resources cover technology definitions, educational guides, and software reviews that are accessible to all researchers regardless of technical background. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.

The result is a limited level of assurance that the financial statements being presented do not require any material modifications. In an audit engagement, the auditor must corroborate the ending balances in the client’s accounts and disclosures. This calls for the examination of source documents, third party confirmations, physical inspections, tests of controls, and other procedures as needed.


If an auditor is unable to render an unqualified opinion, a qualified opinion may be issued. Some reasons opinions may be qualified include scope limitations and departures from GAAP. These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word ‘compilation.’ Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. While the Atari 50 collection was met with a positive response, some of the company’s other recent initiatives haven’t been as well received. Its Atari VCS console had a rocky development and eventually released to middling reviews, and the brand also got into NFTs in 2021. Hopefully, its recent acquisitions are a sign that it’ll be more focused on the classic games behind its brand going forward.

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If he is unable to obtain such additional information, the accountant should withdraw from the engagement. This brochure compares a basic financial statement preparation, compilation, review and audit engagements and can assist you in educating your clients on the differences between the levels of service. Click on the link below to download the PDF for this brochure, which can be personalized for your firm and provided to your clients. Having compiled financial statements is the first step in establishing financial credibility for start-ups and/or smaller organizations. Compilations provide financial transparency in an organization and allow the organization to make better decisions involving financial matters. These analytical procedures provide better understanding of key relationships among certain numbers.

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A compilation differs significantly from a review or an independent audit of financial statements. A compilation is literally a compilation of financial records into a format required by accounting standards. When this work is performed by an auditor it is referred to as a “compilation” and accounting standards require the auditor to assess whether the records are free from obvious errors. The objective of a financial “review” conducted by an independent auditor is to examine the nonprofit’s financial statements and determine whether the financial statements are consistent with generally accepted accounting principles. A review shares the goals of an audit, however, a review is not conducted with the same level of investigation or analysis as an independent audit.

However, there are many circumstances when the presentation of formal financial statements is necessary. The compilation report may be a full disclosure report with complete footnote explanations of certain amounts and policies contained in the financial statements. Omission of this information is not permissible under the other levels of service. A qualified opinion due to a scope limitation alerts the reader that, except for the matter accounting software and tools review to which the qualification relates, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the company’s financial position. If the scope limitation is severe enough, the auditors may disclaim an opinion on the overall financial statements. With compilations, or compiled financial statements, the outside accountant converts the client’s data into financial statements without providing any assurances or auditing services.


Many people might be concerned about the objective of compilation if it is not equivalent to a review or audit of the financial statements. The audit is a formal requirement of many corporations and business entities. This requirement is not compulsory for an accountant to accept compilation engagement.

A compilation is said to be the result of write-up work, which is an accounting service involving the preparation of financial statements. A compilation is done by an external accountant who transforms the data given by the client into financial statements, but without performing any audit or review services. A compilation is also said to have the lowest level of assurance because the accountant simply compiles and does not give any assurance or opinion as to the fairness of the financial statements. Compilations do not include any analytical procedures or inquiries of management and therefore are the least expensive form of attestation service provided by a CPA. The accountant merely relies on information provided by the client along with his general understanding of the accounting principles. These statements are not reviewed or audited by the accountant to confirm whether the business entity has followed the generally accepted accounting framework or not.

The presentation of data does not cover any assurance about any material modifications needed to make the statements according to a prescribed accounting framework(GAAP or IFRS). When the financial statements are compiled, a compilation report accompanies them. It should be stated in the report that the financial statements have not been audited or reviewed, and the accountant does not offer any assurance or opinion regarding whether or not the financial statements are fairly stated. It should also be stated in the report that the financial statements are only representations from the management of the client or organization.

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