The Importance of the Auditor-Client Relationship for your Housing Authority

May 3, 2017

The right housing authority auditor provides tailored reporting and good advice so that you spend more time focused on key operations.

The importance of business continuity

Finding and selecting the right auditor takes time. And even when one is chosen, it can take more time and effort to train them on the processes and methodologies they need to know.

That’s a drain that executive directors don’t need. They’re too busy getting on with running daily operations and delivering the mission of their housing authority.

The best way to ensure business continuity is to develop a relationship with an auditor you can trust and can collaborate with for the long haul. This gets rid of the tiring onboarding process and ensures you work with those who not only know the industry but also who know your authority well.

According to the Affordable Housing Association of CPAs (AHACPA), “Every change in auditors represents an additional opportunity for audit failure due to a lack of client-specific knowledge.”

The public housing learning curve

Housing authorities are subject to some of the most complex regulatory requirements of any industry.

As such, housing authority audits require deeper industry knowledge and more stringent educational requirements than many for-profit sector audits.

Working with a CPA firm with deep housing authority experience means you bring that essential auditing knowledge aboard while minimizing costs and disruptions to you and your staff.

And choosing a CPA firm with experience in public housing authorities means that the auditor knows how to tailor their report to suit the needs of those who will read it.

Try getting that same domain expertise and results from a non-specialist auditor — it’s tough.

The strategic value of the audit

Never underestimate the strategic value of the audit and your auditor.

As industry experts and an expert on your specific housing authority, your auditor is uniquely qualified to serve as a strategic advisor and sounding board for your organization beyond the audit. For example, your auditor can:

  • Share the impacts of upcoming regulatory changes.
  • Provide insights into trends that could impact your organization.
  • Advise on day-to-day challenges.

In the months ahead, a strong relationship with your auditor will be more important than ever as the Trump Administration significantly decreases the HUD budget and public housing authorities across the nation scramble to meet the needs of their communities with less.

Take advantage of the expertise of your auditor and brainstorm cost-saving options for your authority. Together you can develop a plan for the months and years ahead.

The power of trust

“When you like someone, it is easier to say that something is wrong and must be corrected,” according to an article in CFO magazine.

Auditors who trust their clients find it much easier to express their concerns and skepticisms to the client.

In addition, auditors who trust their clients are often more likely to share their candid opinions about what’s going on within the organization.

This level of transparency between auditor and client allows the authority’s executive director to gain greater insights into organizational and operational improvements that can increase efficiencies and performance.

A strong auditor-client relationship can help you advance your organization and its mission. A dedicated auditor can be the executive director’s greatest ally in managing the ever-increasing complexity of housing authority regulatory and operational requirements.

Bottom line

All housing authorities benefit from a strong relationship with their auditor. Choosing an auditor with public housing authority expertise and building a long-term bond with them means you’ll get better, more usable audit reports that add strategic value beyond maintaining regulatory compliance.

Aprio has performed over 2,200 public housing audits over the last three decades. In addition to housing authority audits, Aprio provides a comprehensive range of tax and consulting services to improve the efficiency, fiscal health and financial sustainability of public housing authorities.

Need a trusted audit partner to help with your housing authority’s next audit? Get in touch with Becky today.