Assurance & Attest

Attestation Services | Management Consulting Firms
Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park & St. Cloud


In today’s skeptical business environment, users of financial information are demanding greater reliability of financial and non-financial data. You need to be able to rely on what you see to be able to make sound judgments about your current operations or about your future plans.
 
Carlson Advisors' Assurance and Attest Services offer a broad range of expertise that takes your future into account. We help you assess the quality of information you use to make decisions, develop creative solutions, and evaluate your company’s performance or the performance of others.

Connect with Jerry Ostergren, CPA today.

Services

We can respond to your needs to obtain independent assurance on the reliability or validity of information that is outside of financial statement audit requirements.

Agreed-upon procedure engagements are a unique attestation engagement. They are designed to meet a specific assurance requirement using specified procedures agreed to by the party desiring the assurance. We report procedures and findings rather than a conclusion. Our report enumerates the procedures performed, states our findings, and restricts the use of the report to the party that agreed to the procedures. The parties can be you, banks, vendors, customers or others.
 
We can also provide an examination or review attestation service that will provide a written communication expressing a conclusion about the reliability of an assertion that is the responsibility of another party.
 
These engagements may be used to:

  • Limit assurance to specific accounts in financial statements
  • Fulfill responsibilities to parties to a contract
  • Provide assurance on specific transactions

As you consider your needs for a plan auditor and advisor, consider the experience, commitment and value that Carlson Advisors can offer. Our specialized service by our Benefit Plan Audit Services Group can help you cope with the increasingly complex rules, regulations and reporting requirements for benefit plans. In addition to assisting with compliance, we can evaluate internal controls or the effectiveness and quality of outsourced plan recordkeeping and reporting. We can also assess whether, as a plan sponsor, you are meeting your fiduciary responsibilities.
 
We are a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center and use the tools and continuing education provided by the center as well as other internal and outside resources. Our commitment to education and training means our staff has thorough knowledge of current issues.

Generally, due diligence is the process necessary to confirm all material facts before entering into an agreement or transaction with another party.
 
The objective of our due diligence services is to collect information for management to use in decision-making relative to joint ventures, mergers, consolidations, investments, and other types of acquisitions or transactions. Normally, three parties — management, lawyers and Carlson Advisors — are involved in the due diligence process. We can take the lead and coordinate the entire process or work under the direction of the law firm.
 
We assist in gathering and analyzing information about potential sellers as well as evaluating the buyer if we are working for the seller. We will consult and make recommendations based on our findings. When providing services for a buyer, a quality of earnings report is a common due diligence service request.

Our assurance services for financial statements include year-end and interim periods. We know that our clients are best served if we can identify opportunities for you to improve operations, safeguard assets and increase profits. Our approach in all of our financial statement engagements is to gain an understanding of your business so we can provide useful advice that takes your future into account.


Audit

Audits provide assurance to third parties including stockholders, creditors and banks, grantors, and regulators that financial statements are presented, in all material respects, in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

Our audit procedures include obtaining an understanding of your organization and its internal controls. We assess the risk of material misstatement of the financial statements whether due to error or fraud, and design the nature, timing, and extent of our audit tests that are responsive to the assessed risks. We test your accounting records and your responses to our inquiries by obtaining sufficient evidence through inspection, observation, confirmation, and analytical procedures.

At the conclusion of our audit, we provide a written report expressing our opinion as to whether the financial statements, including the financial statement note disclosures, are in accordance with GAAP.
 

Review

A review of financial statements provides limited assurance that there are no material modifications that should be made to the financial statements in order for them to be in conformity with GAAP.
 
We perform inquiry and analytical procedures and obtain representations from management in order to issue our review report covering the financial statements and required note disclosures.
 

Compilation

A compilation of financial statements presents information that is the representation of management in financial statement format. Financial statement note disclosures are not required and we do not express any assurance on the financial statements.

Even though our compilation service provides no assurance, we improve the quality of the compiled financial information by assisting clients in presenting it in accordance with GAAP or other comprehensive basis of accounting (OCBOA). Although our report does not provide any measure of assurance, our involvement often helps provide assurance to third parties. Providing compiled personal financial statements to creditors is an example of where our involvement is often useful.

We help clients take their future into account by providing forecast and projection services. We focus on the details and format/template design to provide forecasts that are effective and useful forward-looking management tools. We believe no business or organization should operate without a budget; it provides the foundation for management decisions regarding cash flow, equipment and personnel needs and is essential to safeguarding assets and internal accounting controls.
 
Besides forecasting and planning expected operations, projections can be useful in evaluating, analyzing and communicating important business decisions including:

  • Equipment purchases and facility expansion
  • Relocations and building purchases
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Consolidations of operating facilities
  • Financing alternatives
  • Raising capital and informing investors
  • Determining cash flow requirements
  • Minimization of income taxes

 The objective of developing prospective financial information is not to predict the future, but to provide information to improve the decision-making process.

In today's business environment, users of financial and non-financial information are demanding greater reliability. Our internal control evaluation and consulting services can provide recommendations to improve reliability of information and efficiencies in processes and controls. We can assess and provide recommendations to reduce business risk exposure including fraud and undetected errors and to safeguard business assets.

Our services include:

  • Internal control reviews and assessments
  • Process improvement reviews
  • Outsourced internal audit
  • Information systems reviews
  • Fraud risk assessments and investigations
  • Assessment of financial statement preparation process
  • Testing of internal control design effectiveness

Although we are not registered to audit public companies, we are able to supply many services, including services that auditors are expressly prohibited from providing to their public company audit clients.
 

Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Compliance

We can help you comply with Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 requirements and improve internal controls effectiveness and efficiency. We will approach this project with a responsive focus on your business needs and will deploy a practical methodology that will help you accomplish your goals. If you need a strong local service team that can react quickly to your needs, we can help.
 

Other Services

We are well-qualified to assist public companies with services that may be prohibited or require Board of Directors pre-approval:

  • Financial statement and notes preparation
  • Accounting standards implementation
  • Bookkeeping
  • Valuation services
  • Information systems design & implementation
  • Litigation support services
  • Tax return preparation and consulting

Because we service many manufacturing and other clients, that receive personally identifiable information (PII) from their customer, Carlson Advisors specializes in SOC 2 reports. The SOC 2 report clearly has value to many of our clients; it provides their customers the comfort they require for assuring effective internal control over outsourced production. Without this assurance, customers may go elsewhere or new valuable customers may not be approachable. The SOC 2 report from Carlson Advisors is a valuable sales tool for our clients.
 
Today, it is common for many of your customers (users) to outsource to your company (service organization) certain tasks or functions related to their business, including production. When users of a service organization's services outsource these tasks and functions, many of the risks of the service organization become risks of the user entity. In light of several prominent internal-control breakdowns (e.g., security and privacy breaches and frauds) and increasing regulatory focus on internal control (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Basel II, HITECH and HIPAA), user-entity management is increasing its due diligence for prospective service organizations and governance oversight of current service organizations. Technological, regulatory and other changes have heightened the need for information and assurance that enable management to demonstrate it has addressed stakeholder concerns related to the security, availability and processing integrity of the systems a service organization uses to process user entities' data and the confidentiality and privacy of the information these systems process.
 
By engaging us as your independent CPA to examine and report on your controls, you can respond to meet the needs of your customers and obtain an objective evaluation.
 
If you provide production or services to customers involved in the following industries, they are likely to require an evaluation of many aspects of controls that can be satisfied by an SOC 2 report:

  • Finance
  • Retail pharmacy
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Insurance
  • Banking
  • Health care
  • Investments
Related Resource