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As any insurance company’s controller will tell you, now is the time to prepare for your yearly audit. We asked our some of our clients’ most seasoned controllers and CFOs a few questions about how they manage to get through preparing for an audit successfully. Some of their solutions to the most common problems insurance companies face may help your audit to run more efficiently, too.

Our contributors include:

  • Stephen Clay, Controller for EMI Health, winners of Utah’s Best of State Award in the Business Services: Insurance category for 5 of the last 9 years (2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015)
  • Keith Andrews, Controller for Bear River Mutual Insurance Company, named one of Ward Group’s Top 50 performing property and casualty insurance companies, and one of Utah’s Best Places to Work For in 2014
  • Jeff Adams, Assistant Controller for Security National Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of publicly-traded Security National Financial Corporation and one of Utah’s largest life insurance providers

What is the best thing you do each year to make your audit a smooth and efficient process?

I think that best thing we do each year is to practice all year long. Each month-end close is a trial run for year end. The opportunity to see what’s working and what needs improvement should not be missed just because it’s not year-end yet. Then, at year-end, coordinating schedules with the auditors so that each party knows what to expect and when essentially incorporates the audit team into the closing process. –Keith Andrews

We’ve taken a few steps to ensure our audit is a smooth and efficient process. The first is preparing a variety of workpapers to be used to reconcile the accounts and draft the financial statements. We use those workpapers each year so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Ideally, the workpaper documents how it is to be used and why it is being used so the employee knows its purpose. We also prepare checklists of the items needed for the audit or the year end close that everyone signs off on when completed. It’s a quick way for me to monitor our progress and readiness for the audit. — Stephen Clay

What is the biggest issue you face each year as you prepare for your audit? How can an auditor support you in solving that issue?

The biggest issue that I face as I prepare for the audit is getting all the information that I need from various departments in order to finalize my numbers and close the books. It’s frustrating when there’s a delay in getting some information that I know can flow through and impact various balances. The auditors help in resolving that issue by alerting me to potential issues or information that they need as soon as possible. –Stephen Clay

Timeliness is the biggest issue that we face. By trying to stay “ahead” of schedule, we give ourselves time to handle the surprises that may arise.—Keith Andrews

An audit will go smoothly and be efficient if we know what the auditors need for the audit.  Our time is valuable with everything that we have to do for year-end and it helps to be on the same page. Because we know what to expect we are able to prepare for it throughout the year by incorporating things into our month-end close process. — Jeff Adams

For more information on how we can help you with your biggest audit issues and give you specialized services just for insurance companies, contact Geri Douglas at gdouglas@larsco.com, or call 801-313-1900.