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Auditor communication duties must be adhered to

SMSF auditors faced potential liability for failing to comply with their explicit responsibilities, as many did not realise what the full obligations entailed, according to a specialist industry practitioner.

“As an audit communication issue, that is, the nature of the information to be communicated, I think a lot of auditors underestimate [this],” ARC Super director Ashley Course told selfmanagedsuper.

“In many instances, it’s unlikely that the auditor will communicate with the trustee directly – it all goes through the administrator or accountant – so how does the auditor ensure that the trustee has received that communication, but also what are the auditor’s communication responsibilities and what is it that the auditor is required to communicate with the trustees?

“A lot of auditors seem to think that the communication obligations are limited purely to compliance with the relevant Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act (SIS) and SIS sections, but the auditing standards also impose additional communication requirements that others sometimes neglect.”

Course said there was evidence of trustees that ended up with problems that could possibly have been prevented by following the mandatory communication requirements contained in the auditing standards.

“Anecdotally, there have been major cases involving trustees who have suffered [as a result], so the message is that auditors have communication responsibilities found in the auditing standards,” he said.

“Now if they don’t follow those legal requirements, are they exposing themselves if the trustee suffers because the communication was lacking?”

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