Audit Analytics for Regional Accounting Firms

Frazier & Deeter LLC is a full-service accounting firm, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Operating across all industries, Frazier & Deeter offers a wide range of tax, audit, accounting and advisory services.

Bill Godshall is the lead quality control Partner for Frazier & Deeter’s assurance services department and leads the firm’s SEC accounting and risk advisory practice. In both practices, Godshall specializes in assisting large and mid-size public and non-public company clients with complex accounting and financial reporting issues.

Godshall began using Audit Analytics almost 15 years ago when he was working for a regulator. “What I liked about Audit Analytics was the ability to drill down into governance, restatements and auditor changes. All this was very easy through the audit firm dashboard.” Today, through Frazier & Deeter’s association with PKF International, Frazier & Deeter is “able to access resources such as Audit Analytics at a competitive price point.”

Non-audit work with Audit Analytics

By using Audit Analytics, Godshall feels that he can better serve his advisory and assurance clients. He relies heavily on the Comment Letters, Controls, and Restatement databases to provide his clients with research and data to effectively assist in their benchmarking efforts.

“I think that the comment letters [database] is your most powerful feature. We’re doing a financial statement advisory project right now for a client. We’ll go through the comment letters database and find specific staff comments related to the questions our client has. The way comment letters are indexed, and the issuers are listed makes it much easier to search
comment letters with Audit Analytics than it is with anybody else. As a practitioner, we cannot just tell the client what we believe, we need examples. With the Audit Analytics’ comment letter database, we have exactly what the SEC is saying, without actually having to call on the staff.”

In Godshall’s opinion, local and regional firms should leverage the same research and intelligence services as that of a large national firm.

“Why should a firm with less than 50 million dollars of revenue consider making the investment in Audit Analytics? I will tell you, we’ve found a lot of good language and a lot of good research material for our non-public company client base using Audit Analytics. Financial reporting is financial reporting and auditing is auditing. The very core of auditing, the professional skepticism, the robust disclosures, and the detailed procedures are still the same. Every firm wants to be the best they can be and deliver the highest quality service and Audit Analytics is a great tool for supporting that.”

Audit Analytics for due diligence

Audit Analytics is Godshall’s go to source for client onboarding and due diligence. For Godshall, the ability to research a predecessor auditor plays a key role in acceptance decisions. “I use the company profiles extensively to drill down through board connects, governance matters, comment letters, litigation, any kind of class-action lawsuits, it’s all there.”

Audit Analytics helps provide the bigger picture with access to the data beyond “What you see in the audit reports or financial statements.” For example, using the Director and Officer Changes database, Godshall can view the history of executive officer and director changes and determine if those events pose a risk of future audit issues, restatements, or improprieties.

Prospecting and business development with Audit Analytics

For his business development efforts, Godshall is mainly focused on the U.S. Southeast; “That’s the primary filter I currently use, company location in the U.S. Southeast. The idea [for me] is being alerted if there’s a restatement, and then seeing if the company may need help with the restatement or maybe there could be some unease with their current audit firm [because of the restatement], either situation is a great opportunity for us. I also like these alerts because they tell me if there could be an issue in my own client base that needs my attention.”

Having the ability to narrow focus by size and location allows Godshall and the marketing team at Frazier & Deeter to effectively examine, monitor, and track their current and potential markets. For example, ahead of expansions into Nashville, Tampa, and Las Vegas, Frazier & Deeter was able to use Audit Analytics to quickly identify prospective companies by filing status, accounting issues, and size. In short, it allowed them to efficiently identify their target market in
those new geographic areas.

“We like to see the population of Non-Accelerated Filers in a specific marketplace. We want to know who the Accelerated Filers are, but the Non-Accelerated Filers, that’s our sweet spot. We look to see which companies have been there, which companies are just starting out, and what types of accounting issues these companies may have had. Audit Analytics helps us identify potential advisory prospects in a new market.”