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Business & Economy

Better understanding your business to secure fresh growth

The auditing process has, for too long, carried too many misconceptions. But search beyond the stereotypes and an altogether different meaning emerges. Offering a deep dive into a company’s inner-workings, the auditing procedure is a pivotal factor in any firm’s pursuit of growth. Here, Steven Hugill speaks to Nicola Scarr, audit partner at accountancy and business advisory firm Haines Watts, to learn more about the many benefits organisations gain from truly engaging with their annual financial review.


“There is the assumption of a tick-box exercise, a necessary evil.”

“But it’s much, much more than that.”

Nicola Scarr knows all about the auditing process and its many misconceptions.

Crucially, though, she knows too the procedure’s value when it comes to scoping out business opportunity.

From allowing bosses to understand their businesses better to providing valuable reassurance, meaningful insights and the roll out of more robust strategies and systems, the benefits, she says, are tremendous.

And in a landscape of considerable fluctuation, headlined principally by the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine – and their respective knock-on impacts – such understanding has arguably never been more important.

“The world has changed, and there are a lot of live issues and risks to address,” says Nicola, an audit partner at accountancy and business advisory firm Haines Watts.

“And it means attitudes around the auditing process are evolving.

“Clients are increasingly seeing an audit as a positive and value-added proposition, particularly in light of unprecedented inflation and higher interest rates, which are placing greater demands on businesses. 

“They are also really valuing conversations on futureproofing, around things like their ability to deliver budgets and the practical challenges they face.

“It is much more a two-way discussion now; auditors are well versed on risk management, and clients are engaging much more with their recommendations.”

And key to ensuring companies navigate the landscape’s many challenges, says Nicola, is Haines Watts’ tailored audit services, which account for companies’ unique operational frameworks, as well as sectoral and marketplace nuances.

She says: “It is vital to understand each client, industry sector and the very specific risks attached, because a construction business accounts for things and makes judgements in a very different way to a manufacturer or service provider, for example.

“So, as well as challenging forecasts and enquiring about budgets, for instance, we use knowledge gained in different sectors and introduce potential new ways of working and thinking.”

Such close support extends to Haines Watts’ overall service offer, says Nicola, with companies able to tap into more expertise via the auditing process.

She says: “For a lot of clients, who are SMEs or owner managers with small finance teams, we’re a sounding board that helps them plot their progress, all while maintaining our independence.

“And such is the closeness of our relationships that if a business has a tax or VAT query, we’re able to introduce it to specialists across our wider team.

“There are a lot of touchpoints across a year that allow for that kind of support, and which help us to add value and build relationships.”

And Nicola says such level of provision means Haines Watts is suitably positioned to continue delivering for clients in an auditing environment where planned Government changes promise greater accountability and an end to the traditional ‘Big Four’ firms’ monopoly.

She adds: “The reforms mean awareness of auditors, and the overall process, is very much in the spotlight.

“And because there is more and more scrutiny on the profession, it is vitally important for a client to choose the right auditor.

“And, with our level of service, we are very well placed to support clients through such change. 

“We maintain our independence, but we challenge clients as a critical friend, helping them deal with risk and find opportunities for success.”