Auditing an investment platform can present some challenges. Here, we tackle some of the biggest questions that you may have about this task.
There is a trend among modern investors to utilize investment platforms and the efficiencies offered. This gives out some interesting challenges to auditors and accountants. Each investment platform comes with its own set of features and reporting. You have to learn about these if you want to carry out audits with ease. Furthermore, you have to learn how to work within the confines of the platform itself and understand the tools available to you. Failure to do so could lead to a struggle to find the key information needed for the audit. Investment platforms aren’t something that you can avoid either.
The rise in popularity of managed accounts has led to more people using platforms to help manage their investments. They allow users to oversee their accounts and gain transparency. This helps to gain trust, and be consistent and believable for investors at all levels. What you may not realize is that investment platforms also offer tools to accountants and auditors.
This article refers to managed accounts and their relevance to investment platforms, what investment platforms offer for accountants and auditors, and if their data feeds are reliable or not.
What is a Managed Account?
Before getting started with anything else, the first step is to understand what Managed Accounts are. With a managed account, each investor has direct or beneficial ownership of the individual underlying investments. They then hire a professional manager to oversee the investment portfolio on their behalf. This is the key difference between managed accounts and managed funds. With a managed fund, the investor has a share of a pool of assets via issued units rather than direct or beneficial ownership of the underlying investments.
The individualized aspect of managed accounts is what has made them so popular. Using them allows the owner to tailor their investment strategy according to their own goals. They allow ease of portfolio management, which results in time savings. They also provide access to better transparency through professional management, as well as more comprehensive reporting. Often, an investment platform will be used to deliver or enable managed account services. Investment platforms offer a good access point to managed accounts. This is because they offer a very efficient method of reporting on transactions and managing the investment.
Hence, as managed accounts gain popularity, so do investment platforms. There’s another important point to make here. You may have to audit more than one managed account when auditing the output from an investment platform. Managed accounts are only one type of investment that these platforms offer and clients can have numerous managed investments. Others include fixed interest, equities, and cash investments. Investment platforms also generally offer access to managed funds. There is an increasing trend toward using investment platforms that looks likely to continue. This means you’ll have to audit the outputs from more investment platforms more often as time goes on.
What does an Investment Platform Offer to an Auditor?
This trend toward investment platforms can seem like a scary proposition. While most auditors have worked with the outputs from platforms before, there’s an issue of complexity to consider. Managed accounts and other investment types make the auditing process more difficult. The good news is that many investment platforms offer an array of features. These features often benefit auditors and aim to make it easier for you to do your job. These features include the following:
- Direct access to investment information for accountants and auditors:
For example, some investment platforms can offer you access to live reports. This gives you an up-to-date picture of your client’s finances and actions. These reports can often complement the end-of-year reports received and provide more detail. They cover every aspect of the transaction, in addition to that, they’re often automated. This cuts down the issues related to human errors.
- Access to audit reports issued for the investment platform:
The issuing of these reports allows auditors to rely on the year-end data that the platform generates. The reports also offer greater transparency to auditors, clients, and advisors.
- Access to data feeds if the platform supports them:
Many platform providers have introduced data feeds into their offerings that cover all investment types. These feeds provide greater automation of data entry and can provide greater transparency around the underlying transactions that the client undertakes.
Also, it is important to remember that each investment platform offers different features. These are only a couple of examples of what the platforms provide to accountants and auditors. Your client’s platform may not have all these features or it may have extra features that can provide you with even more help.
These differences affect your auditing approach. They call on you to learn about the specific features that a platform has to offer, but taking the time to do this usually leads to you saving a lot of time later on.
Can I Use Data Feeds?
The use of data feeds when auditing investment platforms is a contentious issue. On one hand, some platforms don’t yet have the required functionality. The use of feeds doesn’t come as standard across all platforms and the treatment of different investment types (particularly managed accounts), differs across the software consuming the feed. That does not mean you should automatically not use feeds. You just have to be aware of the source and any limitations, as you do with any feed that you use. But things have started to change. Investment platforms have started to evolve their feeds and many include tools that offer greater support to auditors and accountants who use the platform’s data.
Auditors must come to grips with the evolution of investment platforms. The popularity of managed accounts has led to more people using them. You need to adapt to the greater complexity of the investments that people oversee using these platforms. You also need to know about the new tools that they provide concerning accessing up-to-date data and providing online access to platform users. The key lies in understanding what these platforms have to offer. You have to take full advantage of the resources that the platforms provide. This may require some research on your part.
However, there’s a strong payoff. Accessing these tools can save you a lot of time during the auditing of accounts preparation process. Of course, using a good audit platform can speed up the auditing process further. That’s where Cloudoffis can help. Cloudoffis is an automated SMSF audit solution that allows for even greater efficiency. Arrange for a live demonstration with our team today. With Cloudoffis, you can make SMSF audits more efficient than ever before. Simply schedule your demo on the form below.