FSC Russia: «Audit helped us to improve the work of the organization»
Audit results can and should be used to further develop the organization audited. But how can you find an auditor who can help make this happen? How will the auditor do it and what can they offer you? The Director of the NGO, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC Russia), Andrey Ptichnikov and the organization’s Chief Accountant Elena Vizintal shared their experience in finding an auditor who was right for the job.
You have had voluntary audits since 2013. Who looks at your audit reports?
Andrey Ptichnikov: Our financial statements are of interest to companies that are certified by the FSC system, suppliers, as well as to partners, which include commercial and non-commercial organizations. We make the findings available within the public domain and send them to our members.
Forest Stewardship Council is an independent Russian NGO and an official representative of FSC International in Russia. Every year, we are audited by the Certification Body, and we send an audit report to FSC International.
Before working with Alinga Consulting, you used the services of another auditing company. Did that company meet your expectations and needs?
Andrei: Yes, to a certain point. We chose the former auditor on recommendation. A specialist came and spent about two days on the audit. We translated the report into English ourselves and sent it to FSC International. At that time, the quality of the audit report suited us and our international partners. There was no need to change the auditor.
How did you understand that it was time to find another auditor?
Andrei: In 2016, we realized that we had grown into a significant player in our field. We were holding more and more large-scale events and the number of joint projects with our partners increased. We have accepted many new members: there are now 80 companies and individuals within the FSC of Russia. Our second legal entity is up and running, our turnover and the number of financial transactions have increased. Our new chief accountant Elena Vizintal advised us that we needed a more qualitative and in-depth audit.
Elena: I’m used to scrutinizing documentation, using a system-wide approach. I’m used to being in constant contact with auditors. We realized that we need another methodology for conducting the audit and presentation of results.
How did you go about choosing a new audit company?
Andrei: We organized a tender for which several companies applied. Alinga’s offer and the qualifications of Alinga’s specialists were the most suitable. We wanted the audit to help improve our organization’s work; we didn’t want it to be done as a mere formality. When your organization grows to a certain level, an audit is needed to see and solve your problems, to work stably, and to meet market requirements.
Alinga was already working with NGOs and these NGOs voiced positive opinions about that cooperation. For FSC International, it is important that Alinga is in Prime Global, one of the five largest associations of accounting firms in the world, and is among the top 20 financial consultants in Russia (RA rating “Expert” for 2016 – ed.)
Elena: Alinga offered to provide us with free consultations during the year following the date we signed the audit contract. We have already taken advantage of this option. We were advised by Alexander Kulikov, Head of the Alinga Audit Department and his colleagues.
How much did the audit cost increase after your change in audit companies?
Andrei: Comparing prices in our case tells us little. FSC Russia – now and three years ago – these are two different organizations in terms of workload. I can only say that we plan to continue cooperation with Alinga.
If audit quality and auditor reputation are your priorities, why did you not use the services of one of the famous “Big Four” companies?
Andrei: I used to work for an international environmental organization that was audited by a “Big Four” company. We thought the high cost of the work did not match its quality. FSC Russia required a reliable and experienced auditor with an international reputation that did not make an unreasonably high markup for its brand.
Elena: In my experience, large audit firms, unfortunately, have frequent personnel turnover. We have to build a dialogue with new people during each audit, explaining the specifics of the organization. To me, predictable results and specialists, of which I can be confident, are important.
Our auditors from Alinga, Tatiana Bushueva, Daria Shaunina, and their team impressed me with a deep knowledge of the nuances of accounting and other aspects of the activities of commercial companies and NGOs. We plan to continue working together.
How was your first audit with Alinga?
Elena: The auditors looked at all the primary documents, constituent documents, personnel documentation, checked all the reporting: accounting, tax, and reporting to government funds (Social Insurance Fund, Pension Fund), and also advised us on some issues. For example, they explained how to fill out the new form 6-NDFL correctly, taking into account various payments and fees to individuals.
How many auditors worked on your project?
Elena: We have two legal entities, so two we had two teams of auditors. Tatyana Bushueva supervised the audit. Two auditors checked our LLC, the main activity of which began in mid-2016. Three experts checked the NGO, then a fourth one joined them. We needed a clean audit report (without reservations) for our two companies, and we got it. One of the rules of my work as a chief accountant is to receive an unmodified opinion of the auditor on the reliability of the financial statements.
You conducted an audit and prepared an opinion during the reporting period. Did the auditor meet the deadlines?
Andrei: Yes, we received the conclusion on time, in Russian and English. Alinga Consulting took care of the translation itself. In the beginning of April, we passed the report to the FSC Certification Body at the annual general meeting and we sent it to the members of our NGO.
You wanted the audit to help improve the organization’s work and reduce its risks. Did you meet these goals?
Elena: Alinga has helped us in a number of important issues. For example, in refining our accounting policy, strengthening it, and bringing it more in line with our activities. We have Alinga Methodologist Yulia Mazur to thank for this. We also fine-tuned our accounting processes and formulated them more clearly.
Andrei: I sum up: our fiscal risks have decreased, and our documentation is in order. These results show that during our 2016 audit, we worked with a truly professional auditor. We have a better-quality audit and can proudly show the report to anyone interested in the work of FSC Russia.
We are also ready to provide you with the following services:
- Conducting an audit in several stages.
- Review of the financial statements.
- Carrying out agreed upon procedures.
- Tax audit.
More about services on site: AUDIT SERVICES.
We will be glad to start working with your company.
Head of Audit and Taxation Department
Office : +7 495 988-21-91
Office : +7 495 988-21-91