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SSARS #21 – An Overhaul of Standards for Unaudited Financial Statements

  • CPA (US)
SSARS #21 live CPE webinar

2 Credits


Subject Area


Webinar Qualifies For

2 CPE credit of Accounting for all CPAs

2 General Educational credit for Tax Professionals / Bookkeepers / Accountants

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Course Description

When a CPA is associated with the unaudited financial statements of a client, regardless of the level of service provided, there is always a risk that the CPA will be held liable for losses associated with misstatements.  This is even true when the service provided is an attest and assurance engagement, such as a review, when it is a nonattest and nonassurance engagement, such as a preparation engagement performed in accordance with AR-C Section 70 of SSARS; or a bookkeeping engagement that is subject to the ethical standards of the profession, but for which there are no authoritative standards, such as a bookkeeping engagement resulting in the preparation of financial reports.

The source of that liability may be from:

  • A debtor or creditor who incurred a loss; 
  • A customer or supplier that is unable to be made “whole” in a transaction with the client; 
  • An ex-employee who may have lost a job or been denied a salary increase; 
  • Or even the client who has incurred a loss due to fraud perpetrated during the period to which the financial statements apply, when the loss was detected by the employer rather than the CPA.
  • One defense that can be asserted is that the CPA complied with standards.  Unfortunately, that defense is one that could hurt us as much as help us.  First, if there is any departure from standards, a good expert witness on the plaintiff’s side is likely to find it and will make it appear material even if it is not.  In most cases, the firm would likely not be in a defensible position.
  • If the determination that the requirement was not material to the engagement is not indicated in the engagement documentation, it will usually be assumed that it was not considered, which would be a departure.
  • If it is documented, the CPA’s judgment will often be brought into question.

Keeping in mind that our standards do not apply to individuals outside the profession, a judge, juror, arbiter, or other decision-maker in such an action, is usually only going to be familiar with standards that are brought up in trial and they may not understand them.  That same decision-maker may believe that we should do more than that which is required by standards and may not agree with our assessment of the level of responsibility taken.

Today’s practitioners are also faced with Peer Review, requiring them to be certain to be able to demonstrate that they have complied with all requirements of standards and that all reports issued are appropriate for the circumstances to which they apply.  Most firms rely on checklists to assure that they comply.  These checklists, however, add an administrative burden and a significant cost to engagements.

This online CPE webinar for CPAs will provide an update, covering changes in standards relevant to unaudited financial statement engagements, including the Code of Professional Conduct, the Quality Control Standards, and Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services.  It will provide approaches that will reduce the reliance on checklists without sacrificing compliance and improve the efficiency of many engagements.  It will also suggest alternatives for structuring engagements, preparing documentation, and defining your relationship with your clients.

Key topics covered in the CPA webinar:

  • SSARS #21
  • Relevant changes to the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and the Quality Control Standards
  • Required documentation in a SSARS engagement
  • Tips for minimizing potential liability on engagements involving unaudited financial information

Recommended for:  

  • CPAs who perform engagements involving unaudited financial statements for nonpublic clients.  
  • It is primarily designed for engagement partners and managers who are responsible for making key engagement decisions and are ultimately responsible for the success of such engagements.  
  • Individuals with the responsibility for overseeing these engagements, with the authority to determine the methods to be used and to make subjective decisions will benefit most.

Learning Objectives

  • To review the updates to standards related to unaudited financial information of nonpublic clients, including the Code of Professional Conduct, the Quality Control Standards, and SSARS
  • To be able to determine the type of engagement most appropriate for various circumstances and which standards apply
  • To improve the effectiveness of engagements by changing the relationship with clients and providing value added services
  • To develop approaches for making engagements involving unaudited financial information more efficient and for improving documentation

Who Should Attend?

  • Accountant
  • Accounting Firm
  • Bookkeepers & Accountants & Tax Preparers
  • CPA (Industry)
  • CPA - Mid Size Firm
  • CPA - Small Firm
  • Young CPA





The presenter really did not go through the slides, he rather talked a lot on the background and talked through requirements. I wish he would have touched more on the exact changes as that is what I thought the course was to cover. He had a nice tidbit of information and work papers at the end that was the biggest take away for me.