As a corporate body, the Trust must make sure that its accounts are true and fair; the management accounts dealing with cash-flow are necessary internally, so the people making decisions know what the current state of play is.
But when it comes to the accounts submitted to the members at the AGM and subsequently filed to the Financial Services Authority, they need to have been audited – verified that they are true and fair.
This needs to be done by someone who hasn’t been involved in the preparation of the accounts, or involved in any transactions that have taken place. The auditors are there to make sure that what members and the FSA see is what really happened and moreover, what really happened was done in accordance with the law, with what members have decided in meetings and what the board have decided in their meetings. The auditor provides comfort to the members that, in their opinion, the accounts have been prepared in a correct member.
An CBS Trust must keep proper books of its transactions, assets and liabilities in order to give a true and fair view of the state of the affairs of the Trust and to explain its transactions. It must also establish and maintain a satisfactory system of control of its books of account, cash holdings and all receipts and remittances. This means that Trusts need to have systems in place to make sure that they know who’s able to spend money, who’s able to bank money and who’s keeping track of it all. In most Trusts, that will be the treasurer – but the treasurer won’t be at every event, and won’t be responsible for everything; so Trusts need to make sure that at events it organises, there are procedures in place and that someone is responsible for collecting the money and for getting it to the treasurer.
Ultimately, the easier it is to show what’s happened, financially speaking, to the Trust over the last year, the easier it is for the auditor. It is of course easier to make sure mistakes aren’t made if procedures are in place along the way. So having those systems in place has a double benefit – the Treasurer is able to do their job and make sure that things are properly accounted, and that at the end of the year, the auditors can check this with must greater ease.
Each year, the Trust must appoint one (or more) qualified auditor(s) to audit its accounts and balance sheet for that year. A qualified auditor must normally be a member of one or more of either:
A Trust member can be an auditor, as long as they are professionally qualified as above, and as long as they aren’t:
At the Trust’s first AGM, auditors must be appointed, and they must meet the criteria above. That person remains the auditor unless:
Each AGM should appoint an auditor, even if it is a matter of re-appointing the existing one.
This is a decision for the Trust board. Ultimately, they may decide that getting a clean bill of health is an important thing to do – getting a reputable firm to do the Audit is a way of demonstrating the probity and transparency of the organisation. It’s a useful strategy as a Trust can demonstrate to all and sundry that it is a professional, disciplined and focussed organisation when dealing with third parties, such as potential corporate funders and public bodies. If Trusts want people to give them money – be they members offering £10 membership or local authorities giving the Trust £50,000 in grants – the more easily Trusts can demonstrate that they are above board and a safe pair of hands, the better. Many smaller Trusts might not want to spend the money on these fees, given the size of the job. If there’s not a huge amount of money flowing through the organisation, then it might be a sizeable percentage of the overall sum. In this case, a Trust member who meets the criteria above to do, at a special rate or even for free. Ultimately, as they are a professionally qualified person, their reputation is at stake – and indeed their livelihood – if they get it wrong.
Another idea is to perhaps get a Trust member from a nearby Trust to do the audit and vice-versa – both organisations get a cheaper or even free audit, and as the auditors aren’t members of the Trust themselves or supporters of the club, they are a step removed and it might be easier to demonstrate their independence to members and to outside bodies.
In both these cases though, as such a person is automatically re-appointed, it’s important to find out if they want to continue, and if not, pass a resolution in good time to make sure that the accounts for next year can be audited. In the case of an auditor role becoming vacant between AGMs, an appointment can be made by the Trust board.
The auditors of a registered Trust must make a report to the Trust on the accounts examined by them, and on the revenue account or accounts and the balance sheet for the year of account in respect of which they are appointed. The report must state whether the revenue account or accounts and the balance sheet for that year comply with the statutory requirements as to keeping accounts; and whether, in the auditors’ opinion:
In preparing their report, the auditors have a duty to carry out any investigations that they need to undertake to enable them to form an opinion on whether the Trust has kept proper books and maintained a satisfactory system of control over its transactions, and whether the revenue account or accounts, the other accounts (if any) to which the report relates, and the balance sheet are in agreement with the books. If the auditors are not satisfied on any of these matters, they must state that fact in their report; and if they fail to obtain all the information and explanations which, to the best of their knowledge and belief, are necessary for the purposes of their audit, that fact also must be stated in their report.
Every auditor of an CBS Trust have a right of access at all times to the Trust’s books, deeds and accounts and to all other documents relating to it, and is entitled to seek explanations and information from the officers on any matters they think necessary for the performance of their duties. The auditors are also entitled to attend any general meetings and to receive all notices of meetings and any supporting documents that any member of the Trust is entitled to receive. They’re also entitled to speak on any part of the business at any meeting they attend that concerns them as auditors.
As said above, an CBS Trust can’t publish any revenue account or balance sheet unless it has been properly audited for that financial year (i.e., as auditors are appointed a year in advance, the auditors appointed at the previous AGM should audit the accounts for the year just gone). Those accounts must have a report stating whether, in their opinion, the accounts comply with the relevant statutory requirements, and the accounts must also be signed by the secretary and two Trust board members acting on behalf of the entire board. Finally, Every CBS Trust must keep a copy of the last published accounts and the auditors report, displayed at all times in a prominent position at the registered office.