Payroll Processing

What Everyone Should Take Away from the Recent Retail Breaches

By: Gene Geiger, Partner of A-LIGN Recent Retail Breaches – What Should You Do When news of the Target breach was announced, in the middle of the holiday shopping season, it made headlines and re-kindled the debate on payment card data security and more specifically, the effectiveness of the PCI Data Security Standard (“PCI DSS”), which was established to protect payment card data. This debate has only intensified as news of breaches at other major retailers has surfaced. So what went wrong? How were millions of records exposed? You don’t have to go very far to find the finger pointing and criticism of everyone involved, including Target, the PCI Security Standards Council (“PCI SSC”) and the core infrastructure used in the payment card industry. These discussions will continue and additional guidance may be produced, but at the end of the day, the clients I speak with want to know one thing “What should we do?” Outlined below are some thoughts I would like to share on how to increase the security in your environment.

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How Subservice Organizations Impact SSAE 16 Reports

By: Scott Price, Managing Partner of A-LIGN Determine whether your SSAE 16 Report is saving your client money or costing them! With year-end financial audits fast approaching, your clients will soon be requesting your SSAE 16 report. Why? This is because your SSAE 16 reports will allow your client’s financial auditors to determine if they need to perform additional testing or if they can utilize the report for their year-end financial audit. If the latter option happens to be this case, your SSAE 16 report will save your clients both time and money. Now, aren’t you efficient?

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Payroll Company Controls: From an Internal and External Perspective

By: Sue Wells, Senior Consultant at A-lign CPAs Internal Controls vs. External Controls – What are we talking about? For a payroll company, many of the controls that are executed on a daily basis are designed to ensure that the payroll company’s client’s financial reports will not be mis-stated, and that the information gathered from and generated on behalf of clients will be “protected” from mis-handling, both electronically and manually.  These controls are considered to be “externally” focused and are primarily designed to benefit the payroll company’s client, and as such, will typically be what you see described and examined in SSAE 16 audits.

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Why Payroll Companies are Subject to a SSAE 16 Examination

By: Scott Price, Managing Partner of A-LIGN Classification First, lets get down to the basics.  Payroll companies are classified as “classic” service organizations.  This is due to the fact that payroll companies typically use the same processes, procedures, controls, and systems to process payroll for a variety of companies.

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Ask A-LIGN: When receiving our first SSAE 16 audit, if the auditors find minor mistakes, will we have the opportunity to correct them?

By: Scott Price, Managing Partner of A-LIGN Answer: I hear this question often and, my answer is, “it depends.” I realize this is not the response most of you were hoping for, but I will elaborate. If your audit is a Type 1 SSAE 16, you can elect to have the review date of the report dated for when the service organization has remediated all deficiencies found in the controls. This is one of the main reasons why service organizations like to start with a Type 1 audit. However, in the same breath, the user community sees the limitations of a Type 1 since it only gives assurance at a specific point in time. It is a snapshot.

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Ask A-LIGN: What is the difference between a SOC logo and a SOC seal?

By: Scott Price, Managing Partner of A-LIGN  Answer: Misuse of Service Organization Control (SOC) terminology is a common mishap in the marketplace. When it comes to the use of the SOC logo or seal, many tend to assume the terms mean the same thing (six of one, half a dozen of the other), but in reality they are classified as entirely different entities. Let me explain…

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Ask A-LIGN: Is SSAE 16 a Certification?

Answer: No, SSAE 16 is not a certification. Here’s why: It is incorrect to say that you are SSAE 16 certified, because there is not a certification awarded to you after the engagement. The appropriate wording would be to state, “we have received an unqualified (Type 1 or Type 2) SSAE 16 report as a result of a service auditor performing an audit in accordance with SSAE 16 on the services within the scope of our review.” Once we have issued a final report to our clients, we will then issue the AICPA SOC Logo Guidelines form. The guidelines will explain exactly who can use the logo, how to use it appropriately, and when you must end the use or display of the logo.

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Ask A-LIGN: Is my Organization Required to Obtain a Type 2 SSAE 16 Examination Annually?

Answer: This is a question we are asked frequently by our clients and prospective clients, and the answer is: It Depends. Here’s why: The SSAE 16 guidance states that the period of review, or time frame that the report covers, should be at least six (6) months in the case of a Type 2 SSAE 16 examination.  While this standard sets a minimum period of review, it can be set to cover any period of time over 6 months – i.e., six months, nine months or one year.

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Integrated Audit of Financial Statements – Relevance of an SSAE 16 Report

  Over the many years, while I have been working with companies as their Independent Service Auditor to help issue their SAS 70s / SSAE 16 reports, I have also been on the other side of the fence wherein I was part of the team responsible for the Audit of the Financial Statements of a company that used the SAS 70 / SSAE 16 report.  I thought it may be useful to individuals reading this blog to get an understanding of how the SSAE 16 report links to an audit of financial statements more specifically under Sarbanes Oxley.  Since SAS 70 as a standard is no longer in existence, I will refer to only SSAE through the rest of this blog.

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Too many SSAE 16 audit detours?

  Does your Auditor offer: fixed fees? NO out-of-pocket expenses? a declining fee structure? over 250 SOC Audits of experience? the draft report within 10 days of completion? responds to your calls and emails on the same day?   If your current CPA firm is not meeting these standards,…

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