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Difference Between Assurance, Attestation and Auditing Services

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) have positioned the auditing professions to become “assurance professions”. What is the difference between assurance services, attestation services, and auditing services?

Attestation services involve providing written conclusions that attest to the reliability of written information used by third parties. Assurance services are independent professional services that improve the quality of information, or its context, for decision makers. Both assurance services and attestation services are two of a much broader range of auditing activities. Auditing is a systematic process that uses logical, structured, and organized procedures to objectively obtain and evaluate evidence that regards assertions made by management about economic actions and events to ascertain the accuracy of the assertions and established criteria, which is then communicated to interested users.

The result achieved from attestation is a written conclusion about whether or not a company’s written assertions are reliable. The results achieved from assurance services is to provide better information for decision makers. The objective of attestation is reliable information, the objective of assurance is better decision making.

What are the economic issues that drive the increased demand for assurance services?
The economic issues that drive the increased demand for assurance services include many traditional demands that first helped the auditing profession to immerge; i.e. growth in all sectors, the will for prosperity, corporate mergers, and business moving from the private sector to the public sector. Perhaps the most current economic issues that lead the demand for assurance services are policies that corporations must follow. An example that comes to mind is the recent policies put in to place for lending institutions.

What is one assurance engagement and one attestation engagement other than an audit of financial statements?
An assurance engagement would be a CPA paid by the preparer or user, while an attestation engagement would be a CPA paid for by the preparer.


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