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What Is Assurance and Attestation?

You’re probably well-aware that Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) provide audits, in which they examine and evaluate financial statements to verify their accuracy. But if you want to be more confident about various types of information you’re producing, CPAs offer other solutions, too.

Namely, assurance and attestation.

Here we’ll talk about these two lesser-known services, and how small businesses can benefit from them.


We’ll start with assurance, or more specifically, “assurance engagements.”

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) provides a basic definition for an assurance engagement. It calls it “an engagement in which a practitioner expresses a conclusion designed to enhance the degree of confidence of the intended users other than the responsible party about the outcome of the evaluation or measurement of a subject matter against criteria.”

And “subject matter” actually covers a wide range of possibilities. A CPA could help to improve the confidence in a company’s ability to measure its financial performance, sure. But it could also provide assurance for non-financial performance, systems and processes, behaviors such as corporate governance or regulation compliance, even the physical characteristics of a building.

The end result is typically a written report with a conclusion conveying the assurance about said subject matter. So, a conclusion might look like this:

“In our opinion, (COMPANY’S) internal controls are effective, in all material respects, based on (CRITERIA).”

In the case of a limited assurance engagement, the conclusion typically will be worded differently. The IAASB provides this example:

“Based on our work described in this report, nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe that internal control is not effective, in all material respects, based on (CRITERIA).”


Assurance and attestation engagements are actually closely related.

As we like to say: “All attestation engagements are assurance engagements, but not all assurance engagements are attestation engagements. Kind of like all squares are rectangles, but not vice versa.”

An attestation, which is performed by a CPA, involves taking already-gathered data and other information, then using previously agreed-upon procedures to generate a report about an assertion that another party has made.

If that sounds like an audit, that’s because it is — or at least, it can be. Audits are one type of attestation service. However, attestations also can cover things such as internal control over financial reporting, information technology, among other things.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provides an example of an opinion from an attestation:

“In our opinion, management’s assertion that (COMPANY) complied with the aforementioned requirements during the (PERIOD) ended (DATE) is fairly stated, in all material respects.”

Your Source for Assurance and Attestation

Whether you’re looking to build confidence in your own operations or you want to prove the credibility of your data to outside parties, such as investors, you can look to McManamon & Co., which provides numerous assurance and attestation engagements for small- and midsized businesses. If you want to know more about how to get started, call us at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today.

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