Attestation (at-tes-ta-tion) n. the act of affirming something to be correct, true or genuine; to certify by signature, oath or in an official capacity.

In broad terms, an attestation is a third party certification that a document is valid. Ideally, the party acting as the witness has no professional or personal association with any of the signatories on the document. Attestations are usually done for matters of great personal or financial significance.

In the financial world, an attestation is an examination, review or an agreed-upon procedure engagement related to a particular subject matter. It may also be an assertion that is the responsibility of another party.

When would I need an attestation? Anytime there is a reporting need that does not require the extensive and expensive procedures of a full audit. An attestation engagement provides the interested parties with an opinion, conclusion or findings regarding the reliability of the subject or it makes a certification about the subject matter measured against established criteria. An attestation includes a report which serves to give the interested parties confidence in the accuracy of the subject matter.

There are several types of attestation agreements:

An Examination engagement—provides reasonable assurance that the subject matter is free from material misstatement. It expresses an opinion in a report that the subject matter is in accordance with accepted criteria in all material respects or the responsible party’s assertion is fairly stated in all material respects. It may also examine and report on compliance with specified rules, laws and regulations.

A Review engagement—provides limited assurance regarding the necessity of material modifications to the subject matter. It may also express a conclusion as to whether any material modifications should be made to the subject matter to be in accordance with the criteria or any material modifications should be made to the responsible party’s assertion in order for it to be fairly stated.

An Agreed-Upon Procedures engagement—applies procedures to the subject matter established by specified responsible parties. The process concludes with an issued report of any findings as well as any other communications that may be required.

The subject matter of an attestation may take many forms, including the following:

    • Historical or prospective performance or condition
    • Physical characteristics (such as narrative descriptions or the square footage of facilities)
    • Analyses (such as break-even analyses)
    • Systems and processes (such as internal control)
    • Behavior (such as corporate governance, compliance with laws and regulations)
    • Controls of service organizations relevant to user entities’ internal control over financial reporting

If this overview of attestations raises any questions or concerns, we’d like to have the opportunity to discuss this with you. At Bradshaw, Gordon & Clinkscales, we have the training and proficiency, knowledge of the subject matter and we’ll exercise due professional care. Our business is all about your financial success!