76 HASKINS & SELLS October
Some Observations on Reports
By H. L. W I L S O N , Technical Procedure Department
THE effectiveness of accountants' services
depends so much upon the usefulness
of their reports that no pains should
be spared to make the reports clear, informative,
and technically correct.
The following discussion dwells upon a
few of the problems which are frequently
encountered in the preparation of reports,
as indicated by the review of a large number
of reports recently rendered. The discussion
will be taken up under the following
headings: Presentation, Comments,
Certificate, and Balance Sheet. The subject
of profit & loss statements is not
dealt with in this article.
If the report is addressed to the concern
whose accounts have been examined, the
presentation need not state, "We have
made a general audit (or whatever the
service classification may be) of the accounts
of the Company," but
should state, "We have made a general
audit of your accounts." This is one of
the few cases in which the use of the personal
pronoun is appropriate in reports.
In most other instances the tone of the
report is more dignified if an impersonal
point of view is maintained.
In cases where all or nearly all the comments
constitute qualifications, or are
otherwise of a vital character, it is desirable
to combine them with the presentation.
The same practice should be followed
when the comments are very brief. In
combining the presentation and the comments
it is necessary to give consideration
to the introductory wording of the comments.
The matter might well be handled thus:
We have made a general audit of your
accounts, etc., etc.
[Here follows the description of statements.]
The results of the audit are further reported
in the following comments:
[Here follow the comments.]
If it is desirable to give a certificate, the
certificate may be the final paragraph and
may be worded somewhat as follows: "We
Hereby Certify that, subject to the foregoing
qualifications, in our opinion the accompanying
Balance Sheet as of December
31, 1925, is correct."
In case the auditor has written up the
books and at the same time has verified
the accuracy of the original data, the presentation
should clearly indicate the scope
of his work. In reports where such service
has been rendered, a number of in-