Most clients and potential clients request typical accounting or audit services. Some, however; have specific needs (for example, a demand by a potential lender, regulatory authority, stockholder, or absentee owner) that cannot be met by the traditional compilation, review, or audit of financial statements. In those cases, a nontraditional engagement will often provide the best alternative.
In some cases, nontraditional engagements occur when clients have a specific objective in mind (providing needed information for their use or someone else's), but not a specific type of service. They will often accept any engagement that results in a report on the information requested. Thus, we can often provide advice as to the most appropriate type of service in the circumstances.
Other times, a request for a traditional engagement may be an opportunity to provide a nontraditional engagement that better meets the client's needs. For example, a bank might ask for an audit of the financial statements when it really only needs assurance on the client's receivables and inventory that serve as collateral for a loan. In that case, a report on those specified financial statement elements might be of more benefit to the banker, and less costly to the client. Also, a small-business owner might request an audit of the business's internal control when he or she really only wants specific procedures applied. In that case, an agreed-upon procedures engagement may be a better alternative.