An attest service (also called an attestation service) is an unbiased review of a company’s financial statement. The review is conducted by a certified public accountant (CPA). After the review, the CPA delivers an attestation report. The report carries conclusions that attest to the accuracy of the data provided by the company.

The attestation services are required to maintain and adhere to the standards developed by a professional services group called the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The standards are frequently updated to meet the contemporary demands of attest services that are completely unrelated to financial reports, such as an attest service for consumer privacy statements.

Attest services in law and finance 

In law, an attestation is used in legal documents. Attestation is a declaration by a witness that a legal document was signed when the witness was present. The attestation declares and confirms that the document is valid. You can contact a notary public for attestation for documents.

In finance, an attestation is done by a CPA’s declaration on financial documents declaring that the numbers are correct and reliable. CPAs are independent; thus, it validates the financial information prepared by the company’s own internal accountants.

Main types of attest functions

There are three main types of attest functions. They are:

1. A comprehensive examination

2. A review of an examination concluded by another group

3. A partial examination to analyze specific procedures

A comprehensive examination concludes the overall accuracy and integrity of a company’s financial statement. This level of scrutiny matches with a financial audit.

A review is nothing but a second opinion. It approves the existing result of a previous audit, A review may also discover issues that might have been missed.

A partial examination is restricted to individual aspects of the company’s bookkeeping processes.

All three attest functions mentioned above need to have standards imposed by the AICPA regarding audit procedure, independence of the CPA, and objective expression of opinion.

The attestation review is an important duty of a CPA. In fact, in 2011, the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 16 replaced Statements on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 70 as the definitive guide for CPAs performing audits. The AT Section 801 of SSAE No. 16 document, summarises the purposes of an attest function. The document also widens the scope of the definition.

Today, CPAs are in demand to perform attest services on non-financial documents like security procedures, privacy controls, and greenhouse gas emission reports. These non-financial documents need to be compliant with intricate government regulations and requirements. Thus, an independent party is required to validate the accuracy of the statements produced by the company. 


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