At RMT our experienced team provide a specialist SRA audit service for the legal sector and specifically the firms’ Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA).
Each year solicitors or law firms that hold client money as part of their services, are required to obtain and submit an accountant’s report to the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) to ensure that the firm is compliant with the rules and guidelines in respect of the treatment of money passing through their client accounts.
The SRA audit is completed on an annual basis and upon conclusion an accountant’s report is issued and will cover the following areas:
- That there are appropriate systems, controls and records in place within the firm.
- That client monies received are paid promptly into a separate client money bank account.
- Money is only withdrawn from the client account for the purpose for which it is being held, with appropriate authorisation and to the extent that there are sufficient funds held on behalf of a specific client.
- Client money is returned promptly to the client as soon as there is no longer any proper reason to hold those funds.
- Any breaches of the rules are corrected by the firm promptly upon discovery.
Compliance with the SRA rules and guidelines can be complex and is taken seriously by the SRA. Our team is able to support you with all aspects of this reporting and the compliance required by the SRA, we can also advise on how current processes can be improved.
Ensuring Compliance With The SRA Accounts Rules
At RMT Accountants our specialist professional services team can handle the SRA audit process from start to finish and ensure all relevant reports and documentation are in place so that deadlines are met along with adherence to the SRA Accounts Rules.
To support solicitors and law firm’s with requirements of the SRA Accounts Rules we offer a range of services and advice including:
- Review of existing processes and controls in place to identify areas of weakness or non-compliance.
- Provide improvements to processes and controls to ensure client monies are safeguarded in line with the SRA Accounts Rules.
- Preparation and completion of the annual accountants report in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules.
The Accountants’ Report must be obtained by the firm within 6 months of the end of the period to which it relates (usually co-terminus with the statutory accounting period for the financial statements).
The Report only needs to be delivered to the SRA if the Accountant’s Report is qualified to show a failure to comply with the rules, such that money belonging to clients or third parties is, or has been, or is likely to be placed, at risk.
What Is The SRA Audit Process?
We seek to make the audit process as stress-free and smooth as possible and so we will work with you to obtain access to the records of the firm and select our audit samples and provide a list of information required for our work in advance.
We will discuss the required information with management and the relevant staff to ensure that there are no issues in obtaining this and then lay out a timeframe for receipt of information, review thereof and any onsite work required at each office.
We will need access to bank statements, client ledgers, cashbooks and client files to complete our reviews and aim to work in partnership with your staff to ensure that work is completed as efficiently as possible and does not disrupt the day-to-day operations of the firm.
We will highlight and discuss any potential issues with you as they arise throughout the audit process so that there are no nasty surprises in store and to ensure that we understand the business and the transactions fully.
- At the end of the audit process we will arrange a meeting with management where we will provide feedback on the findings from the audit and will provide a detailed written report in advance of the presentation.
- SRA audits can be completed relatively quickly unless there are any issues, irregularities in which case it can take longer.
- Our specialist team can help keep you updated throughout the audit process and will work with management and staff to ensure that improvements are made where any issues are identified.
Here at RMT we understand the pressures associated with an SRA audit, our client-focused approach ensures our SRA audit service will be bespoke and tailored to your business.
We use the latest systems which makes collaboration with you, before your SRA audit much easier.
These processed enable us to minimise the time we spend onsite by selecting samples and collating information in advance resulting in less disruption to your staff.
Beyond simply fulfilling the minimal reporting requirements, our experienced staff will also assist in reviewing a firm’s systems and controls in detail as part of the audit process and provide practical recommendations for the improvement of those systems.
We will also report internally to the firm on any breaches which, whilst not being reportable to the SRA, the firm may want to investigate further to identify weaknesses in their procedures.
We aim to provide complete comfort to management that they have robust client money processes and controls in place and that they are meeting their legal and regulatory requirements and can sleep sound knowing that their clients’ money is safe.