As I was visiting with a customer and watching a hospitality employee walk us through the steps of a blind wine tasting, it occurred to me that there are some similarities between the tasting process and how we work as auditors.
1. You apply the smell test
Wine Tasting – you sniff the wine in the glass, and inhale the aroma. The smell influences the taste of the wine.
Audit – you apply the “smell test” to transactions to see if the substance of the transaction makes sense. Good auditors are trained to see what is really going on, without being distracted by the appearance of any given situation. The smell test can influence your judgment of the financial statements.
2. You need to be independent
Wine Tasting – you cover up the bottle so that an opinion of the wine can be reached without distortion based upon the price or brand.
Audit- you are bound to uphold standards of independence so that your opinion of the financial statements is provided without bias.
3. There are rules to follow and a score to be determined.
Wine Tasting – there are systems for assigning numerical scores to different bottles of wine and standards of naming to be applied.
Audit – there are standards that auditors use to determine what type of opinion they will issue with respect to financial statements. They will issue either a qualified opinion or an unqualified opinion based upon their findings in an audit or review.
4. You need to make comparisons
Wine Tasting – it is easier to choose a wine that you prefer when you have other wines to compare against.
Audit – auditors rely on industry comparisons and benchmarking tools as part of their audit procedures. These tools help to expose any abnormalities in a given result and help them keep information in perspective.
5. Different users have different requirements
Wine Tasting – if you are buying wine to use as a cooking ingredient, your tasting requirements will be very different from someone who is choosing a wine to serve with a meal.
Audit – different users of financial statements are seeking different information about a business. It is an auditor’s job to make sure that financial statement information is presented fairly and contains adequate disclosures so each user can find the information he or she needs.