I like to talk about attestation engagements when explaining the demand for auditing. The government didn't require Wilson to have its golf balls tested by Coopers & Lybrand nor Major League Baseball (MLB) to have its souvenirs authenticated by Arthur Andersen. Wilson and MLB voluntarily hired auditors because it was in their own best interest to have their assertions verified by an independent third party.
“Replacing SAS 70,” Judith Sherinsky, Journal of Accountancy (August 2010): 32-36. SSAE No. 16 provides updated guidance for reporting on internal controls at service organizations.
“Attestation Services: Opportunity for Practice Growth,” Glenn Helms & Kennard Brackney, The CPA Journal (February 1998): 50-53. This article predicts that accountants can expand their services by providing attestation for a wide array of financial and nonfinancial assertions such as royalty payments, compliance with contractual provisions, election results, ISO 9000 compliance, and software/hardware performance.
Examples of Attestation Engagements:
“Chinese Suppliers Face New Wal-Mart Mandates,” Ann Zimmerman & Mei Fong, Wall Street Journal (October 22, 2008): B1. Wal-Mart is requiring vendors to provide third-party certification that suppliers are upholding safety, labor and environmental standards.
“For Audit Firms, All Bets Are Off,” Serena Ng, Wall Street Journal (July 21, 2005): C3. Some online gambling companies are hiring auditors to verify their payout ratios and the fairness of their games.
“Three Newspapers Are Sanctioned,” E. Cherney, Wall Street Journal (July 13, 2004): B9. The Audit Bureau of Circulations sanctions three newspapers for inflating circulation numbers. Audits increase advertisers’ confidence in circulation figures.
“Major League Baseball Begins Effort to Authenticate Memorabilia,” F. Eltman, Associated Press (January 11, 2001). Major League Baseball hires Arthur Andersen to authenticate hats, shirts, bats and other game mementos.
“After This, CPAs May Take Over Instant Replay Duties for Football,” Lee Berton, Wall Street Journal (July 9, 1991): B1. Wilson Sporting Goods hires Coopers & Lybrand to verify that Wilson golf balls fly farther than other balls when hit by amateur golfers.