The Reform Audit Support System has had significant changes in the last few months. These changes will impact the attorneys in KwaZulu-Natal with increased audit costs.
In the past year we have seen the Reform Audit Support System (RASS) move control from the Kwazulu-Natal Law Society to the Attorneys Fidelity Fund. After this move most attorneys were expecting the project to be rolled out nationally through South Africa, as has happened successfully in New Zealand and Namibia.
To the surprise and concern of most attorneys, the Attorneys Fidelity Fund has done an about turn on the RASS project and written to the attorney members to say that the Reform Audit Support System will in future be used only for new practitioners in the first 2 years of practice. All the existing firms, on the project, will need to exit RASS once the 2014 inspection has been completed.
This notice has left many, long standing, attorney members at a loss now having to find auditors. Business Soul Accounting are not auditors but we have been researching how to resolve this problem for many of our attorney clients. We have found that a number have auditors are no longer conducting attorney trust account audits because of the increased IRBA requirements and therefore the increased costs.
Smaller attorney firms are seriously concerned about the potential drastic increased audit fees, which they have previously been able to avoid in the RASS project. Some of these smaller attorney firms are considering whether they need to close there doors because of the increased cost.
The Attorneys Fidelity Fund and the Kwazulu-Natal Law Society have been piloting the RASS project for the past nine years. Some of the members on the project, have been members for nine years. They have appreciated the efficient and knowledgeable inspectors who have experience with reviewing attorney trust accounts. RASS experience is advantageous when compared to using young inexperienced audit teams who have very little knowledge of trust accounting, wasting the attorneys time and charging substantial amounts to complete these audits.
A number of attorneys have written to the Attorneys Fidelity Fund asking that the stance taken be re-considered. A possible solution would be to engage members and interested parties in a workshop to try and find a plausible solution and way forward to existing concerns. This would benefit all parties with long term national benefits.
The Reform Audit Support System will fortunately continue for new practitioners for the first two years of practice. This project will have great benefit to these new members, not only with cost savings but to assist in developing the new attorneys skills in trust accounting.
Business Soul Accounting will continue to care for our attorneys and assist them with their trust accounting. We are researching ways to try and reduce trust audit costs for our clients. Our systems are streamlined to provide RASS and auditors with electronic accounting reports and management accounts. We are making use of modernised systems and approaches to provide better services and better results. Contact us if you would like to find out more about how we can care for you.