Solicitors and law firms (in England and Wales) that hold sufficient client money must have an independent accountant’s report on their accounting systems, transactions and client money annually.
The report must be completed within 6 months of the end of the accounting period to which the report relates and it may need to be submitted to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
What does an SRA audit cover?
An accountant’s report will determine whether:
- A firm has appropriate systems, controls and records in place
- Clients’ money received is paid promptly into client accounts
- Money is exclusively withdrawn (with authorisation) from the client account for the purpose for which it is being held
- Money is returned promptly to the client, as soon as the purpose for holding the funds has elapsed
- Any rule breaches are promptly corrected by the firm
Should an organisation fail to comply with the rules, such as putting a client’s money at risk, the accountant’s report must be delivered to the SRA. If no breaches are discovered, the report does not need to be delivered unless requested by the SRA.
At Burton Sweet, we are proud to offer an assurance service that is detailed and composed, ensuring our clients receive good communication throughout the process. We aim to make the audit as simple as possible for your staff to collaborate on and feel at ease with our professional team.
As part of our SRA Accounts Rules service, we will:
1. Anticipate: List the information we will need in advance, such as bank statements, client ledgers, cashbooks and client files.
2. Plan: Establish a timetable of activities to ensure you have full clarity on the process.
3. Identify: Review relevant records and sample transactions that will ensure we properly understand your practice.
4. Collaborate: Work with your people, so our processes are efficient and cause as little disruption as possible
5. Prepare: Discuss any potential issues that arise, reducing the chance of unwanted surprises and complexities further down the line.
6. Conclude: Meet with you at the end of the process, providing a detailed report of the findings.
If no irregularities or issues are discovered, an SRA audit can be completed relatively quickly.
Why choose Burton Sweet?
Audits can be stressful if conducted inexpertly and can be a significant drain on you and your colleague’s time and energy. Therefore, it’s important you select an auditor who can not only carry out the work effectively, but who makes the process as seamless as possible for your organisation.
At Burton Sweet, we believe a vital part of conducting an audit is building a detailed understanding of the firm in question. We have longstanding relationships with solicitors and legal practices and understand their specific needs.
As part of our SRA Accounts Rules service, we might identify technical aspects of your systems that could do with some improvement. Whilst these aren’t necessarily items that make it onto our accountant’s report, we can make practical recommendations on how to optimise for best practice.
If you are interested or have any questions about this service, please contact us. We’ll be happy to answer your queries and provide further details about how this could work for your organisation.
Additionally, Burton Sweet have a range of offerings for solicitors including specialist trust and estates tax services, statutory accounts prep, alongside partnership and personal tax returns. We’re here to simplify the financial complexities so you can provide as best as possible for your clients. Should you be curious about any of these services, please get in touch…