SMEs advised to hire professional services of auditors

by Abbas Muhamad
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Having access to legal, accounting, and other expertise is important to help SMEs grow as rapidly and efficiently as possible.

As such, Ugandans have been strongly advised to consider hiring audit services of registered accounting
firms that are licensed by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU).

This, according to the experts, is in order to improve their business processes to drive their enterprise
growth and development.

The auditors possess expert knowledge and experiences, which help them advise the SMEs on how to
streamline their processes and improve them. It also helps the SMEs to make cost savings within their
supply chain.

Speaking at a webinar organized to discuss the role of ICPAU in supporting SMEs in Uganda, Mark
Omona – the Director Standards and Regulation at ICPAU explains there are key considerations that the
SMEs in Uganda should know and follow before they access services of accounting firms.

These are: price for the services, the type of advice/engagement, industry experience – the specialty of service the auditing firm offers, professional certifications, the prior relationship with the auditor
(including the level of trust).

The other key considerations include; the reputation and image of the auditor, the personality of the
owner-manager, and SMEs’ perception of the roles and competencies of the auditor, transparency in
communication, ability to adapt, provision of technology-enabled services, availability and accessibility.

Omona says auditors are professional accountants who have the competence to offer the following
services in any organization subject to the provisions of the ICPAU Code of Ethics: accounting, auditing
and taxation services such as preparing and filing tax returns, and financial management services such as
analyzing and advising on the financial implications of organizational strategies. He noted other roles
such as business advisory, management accounting services such as preparing budgets, reporting
financial performance, preparing forecasts and insolvency practice, among others.

“You need the right auditor and you need to have the right records of books of accounts. If you are
making losses, the results you have in the audit can help you improve and be in a position of running
your business in a much better way,” he says.

During the audit process, Omona says SMEs should ensure that the audit team is adequately identified,
and the senior person should be in attendance at the initial interview.

Regarding the audit execution, he advised: “Ensure the auditor has access to all the factual information
needed to perform the audit, hold regular meetings to reconcile audit findings and respond to notices
and information requests urgently.”

He noted that SMEs should ensure that audit findings are communicated in writing, discussed and areas
of agreement/disagreement clearly and separately highlighted for clarity on areas of non-compliance.

To support SMEs, ICPAU conducts business clinics (Probono) to increase awareness of the need for
accountancy services, develops resources addressing the delivery of services to SMEs, participates in
policy and regulatory changes, and partners with other organizations and business associations to
develop joint programs that serve the interests of the SMEs.

The Institute is also enriching educational programmes for competency development to service SMEs,
commissioning research to identify the critical needs of SMEs, and repurposing existing guidance to be
more applicable to accountants in SMEs as opposed to larger organizations, among others.

Brenda Amony of DFF says: “The Deal Flow Facility is a match making initiative offering technical support
to the SMEs to facilitate their readiness to undertake investment opportunities.”

Amony notes that most of the SMEs face the problem of lack of access to finance to grow their
businesses, so the Deal Flow Facility caters for training the SMEs and supporting them to operate in the
private equity arrangement.

ICPAU is the national Professional Accountancy Organisation established by an Act of Parliament, in
1992; now the Accountants Act, 2013.

Its mandate is to regulate and maintain the standard of accountancy in Uganda, and to prescribe and
regulate the conduct of accountants and practicing accountants in Uganda.

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