Review Engagements: Definition and Types

An assurance engagement is a type of service provided by practitioners. These engagements involve examining a subject matter and providing an opinion about it. There are several parties involved in this engagement. However, the party is the user of the opinion or report provided by the practitioner. These users usually base their decisions based on the provided opinion.

There are several types of assurance engagements. The most common among these is reasonable assurance engagements. With these engagements, the primary objective is to provide an opinion that conveys reasonable assurance. There are several other characteristics of these assurance engagements which differentiate them from review engagements.

What are Review Engagements?

Review engagements, although not as common, are a type of assurance engagement. As with other assurance engagements, the goal of this engagement is to provide an opinion. Unlike reasonable assurance engagements, however, review engagements do not convey positive assurance. Instead, review engagements are for auditors to provide limited levels of assurance.

The assurance level with review engagements is lower compared to reasonable assurance engagements. It is because the practitioner does not provide an affirmative opinion in their report. Instead, they present a negatively worded opinion. Review engagements usually have a specific purpose, which comes from the users. These do not have as strict rules as reasonable assurance engagements.

Review engagements usually occur after a company prepares its financial statements. During this process, auditors perform analytical procedures and inquiries. These do not include the full extent of audit procedures that auditors perform during reasonable assurance engagements. Therefore, these are less intensive in terms of how much work auditors put into it.

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What are the Types of Review Engagements?

Review engagements are a broad categorization of the many different types of audit engagements. There are several types of review engagements. However, most of them can fall among one of the two following classifications.

Attestation Engagement

Attestation engagements are when auditors examine a subject matter created by a client. It may sound similar to external audits. However, these are different in various ways. Most critically, it involves providing a lower level of assurance compared to external audits. There are several types of attestation engagements that clients may use.

Attestation engagements may require auditors to report on financial projections made by a client. Similarly, these may include reporting on proforma financial information, which is not a part of external audits. Some attestation engagements may also involve auditors examining a company’s internal controls. Some companies may prefer to have these reviews carried out by external parties rather than internally.

Attestation engagements include services where the underlying subject matter has not been measured or evaluated previously. With these engagements, practitioners do not have the same standards to follow as reasonable assurance engagements. The objective of these audits is for the practitioner to provide their opinion regarding the subject matter.

As with reasonable assurance engagements, attestation engagements require auditors to conclude whether the subject matter is free from material misstatements. As mentioned, however, they don’t usually perform the same procedures that they would complete during other audits. Attestation engagements also differ from direct engagements, which is another type of review engagement.

Direct Engagement

A direct engagement is a type of review engagement that involves practitioners evaluating an underlying subject matter. However, it does not include providing assurance related to whether it is free from material misstatement. Instead, review engagements involve testing the subject matter against applicable criteria. With these, auditors will obtain sufficient appropriate evidence to express their opinion in a direct assurance report.

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Direct engagements require auditors to conclude about the outcome of the evaluation carried out by them. This conclusion must be to the intended users. The responsible party practically does not present the subject matter information in this form of engagement. Similar to attestation services, direct engagements involve a low level of assurance. It is why it is a type of review engagement.

With direct engagement, the practitioner measures and evaluates the underlying subject matter. Once they do so, they present their conclusion on the report outcome in the assurance report. However, the reporting occurs directly to the intended users. This report contains the subject matter information on which the practitioner reports directly.

Direct engagements may include various types. One of these is a Sarbanes-Oxley engagement. With these services, auditors report on effective control over the financial reporting process. Direct engagements may also include regulatory compliance assurance. Usually, the requirements for these engagements may come from a regulatory body.

Conclusion

Review engagements are services rendered by practitioners that provide a low level of assurance. There are various types of review engagements. These may fall into two categories, including attestation and direct engagements. Both of these form review engagements and provide limited assurance. However, they are different in various regards. Some of the differences between both of these are given above.

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