This is where audits become both interesting and particularly good value for money. Clients who have been through the statutory audit process will readily recognise the amount of work that goes into dealing with the abundance of audit regulation.

A voluntary audit where, for example, an incumbent management team reporting to a family owned business, may be able to get back to the original purpose of audits. Real value can be uncovered and productive dialogue stimulated between owners and managers. By giving freedom of access to senior experienced auditors, the business will benefit from a dispassionate objective appraisal of its performance. Instead of measuring numbers which find their way onto statutory reporting documents, a voluntary audit can open up the report to look at all manner of crucial predictive indicators.

For example, instead of simply verifying that the stock reporting system tallies with physical stock records we can look at what the stock levels and turnover rates actually imply in terms of efficiency; a voluntary audit can look at any manner of indicators - from staff happiness to the strength of client relationships. As an owner, how much more would you value the knowledge that your clients are about to leave you for a competitor than what your turnover was 15 months ago? Bear in mind that the invention of the audit process injected much needed confidence into the notion of a joint stock company more than 300 years ago. The original purpose was for the auditors to report, quite independently of the management, to the shareholders. It appears that both regulators and common practice amongst our international global competitors and their multi-national clients have sidelined this useful and noble purpose.

Don't let that stand in your way of the pursuit of excellence.