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Are remote audits the future of auditing?

Apr 07, 2020

As COVID-19 spreads and people continue to shelter in place, casinos are experiencing a significant business interruption. It has created concerns over cash flows, employee retention and ways to cut unnecessary costs.

It’s also become clear that COVID-19 may have a long-term impact on how audits will be conducted going forward.

We’ve heard before that remote audits are the future of auditing. But unless there was a willingness on the side of the auditor and on the side of the client to agree to implement more remote auditing, there wasn’t substantial motivation to make that transition.

COVID-19 has provided that motivation. It has shown how remote auditing can work, what its benefits are and what still must be done onsite. Most significantly, it’s shown that remote can be the future of auditing.

What does this mean for your casino?

If most of the fieldwork involved in an audit wasn’t done in February and March before COVID-19 began shutting everything down, then you’re probably already familiar with what it means to take your audit remote. You’ve had to make those adjustments on the fly and learn with your auditor how to stay on track and complete a successful audit.

For those casinos whose audits were pretty much done, there’s a big benefit in being able to prepare for a remote audit in case there is another event that causes significant disruption. After all, no one saw COVID-19 coming. Even when it was causing quarantines in large parts of China, many people and businesses overseas were downplaying its potential impact.

So, it benefits casinos to know how a remote audit differs from a standard audit and how they can transition to one if need be.

Here are five steps to take to prepare for a remote audit:

1. Schedule a planning meeting

Schedule a planning meeting with your auditors one to two months ahead of time so you can create a plan for the audit. In the past, this meeting has covered new procedures, new or significant transactions, changes in staffing or accounting procedures — anything that can help auditors prepare before fieldwork begins.

But going forward, it should also discuss what can be done remote and what can’t be. For what probably can’t be done remote — like significant cash inventory observations — you can discuss alternative procedures, or agree that portion should be done onsite.

You can also agree on when the best time is to perform onsite fieldwork when necessary. Do you have the auditors start remote and only come in at the end to finish up what couldn’t be done remotely? Or do you have they come in at the beginning to get everything in order and set up the rest of the audit to be remote?

2. Schedule an internal staff meeting

During the planning meeting, you and your auditors will discuss the items that must be prepared in advance, as that will significantly decrease the time it takes to perform the audit. This is especially significant in a remote audit. It’s much easier and faster to perform one when the auditor has everything they need ahead of time, as opposed to when things come to them piecemeal.

This means that during your internal staff meeting, you can explain the remote audit plan, review the workpaper request list and delegate responsibilities to your staff — helping ensure that everyone is clear on their role in the remote audit process and can properly prepare.

3. Use technology

Technology is the only reason remote audits can be done. Make sure you have the technology to support one. Secure portals, video conference calling, sophisticated systems — all of this technology works together to enable remote processes.

4. Be responsive

To make a remote audit work, communication and responsiveness are the biggest keys to success. Your auditor will likely be very committed to being responsive to your questions and requests. To ensure a smooth audit, your team should also commit to being responsive to their requests, whether it’s for further documentation or clarification.

We recommend designating a single point of contact to work with the auditors to make sure the timeline is met. Communicate and address any difficulties as soon as you identify them.

Understand that a remote audit is going to take a lot more emails, phone calls and video conferences than a standard audit where the auditor is onsite. Onsite audits usually require a daily check-in with auditors and staff. Remote audits may require several touchpoints throughout the day.

5. Work with an auditor specializing in casino audits

In order to make a remote audit work, your auditor should have a deep level of expertise in auditing casinos. It’s unique from other types of audits, without even factoring in the remote aspect. Auditors should be familiar with how casinos work, what systems they typically use, how their reporting works, and what their internal control environment typically looks like. This will make moving to a remote audit much easier.

Are you ready to move to remote auditing?

The transition to a remote audit can be challenging, but COVID-19 has forced the hand of many casinos and proved it can be done — well, most of it. There are still some procedures that must be done onsite.

Those casinos that are ready for a remote audit won’t be caught unaware in another significant business interruption event like 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Audits are already becoming more automated all the time. COVID-19 may just be the final push to making remote auditing the true future of casino audits.

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To help you navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on your people, finances and organization, we have developed a library of resources in our COVID-19 resource center. Visit to learn more.

Author(s)

Grant Eve, CPA, CFE
Partner
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Brian M. Anderson, CPA
Senior Manager
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