Posted November 23, 2009on:
An External auditor is an audit professional who performs an audit on the financial statements of a company, government, individual, or any other legal entity or organization, and who is independent of the entity being audited. Users of these entities’ financial information, such as investors, government agencies, and the general public, rely on the external auditor to present an unbiased and independent evaluation on such entities. They are distinguished from internal auditors for two main reasons: (1) the internal auditor’s primary responsibility is appraising an entity’s risk management strategy and practices, management (including IT) control frameworks and governance processes, and (2) they do not express an opinion on the entity’s financial statements.
The primary role of external auditors is to express an opinion on whether an entity’s financial statements are free of material misstatements. Normally, external auditors review the entity’s information technology control procedures when assessing its overall internal controls. They must also investigate any material issues raised by inquiries from professional or regulatory authorities, such as the local taxing authority. For public companies in the United States, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) has imposed stringent requirements on external auditors in their evaluation of internal controls and financial reporting.
The independence of external auditors is crucial to a correct and thorough appraisal of an entity’s financial controls and statements. Any relationship between the external auditors and the entity, other than retention for the audit itself, must be disclosed in the external auditor’s reports.
In the United States, certified public accountants are the only authorized non-governmental type of external auditors who may perform audits and attestations on an entity’s financial statements and provide reports on such audits for public review