- Helping members of occupational pension schemes to better understand their benefits.

22nd May 2019
:: Trustee | Productivity | 20 Minute Auditor Health Check

20 Minute Auditor Health Check
Anyone who runs a pension scheme will know what’s required in terms of regular auditing. But how good are your auditors? Do you dread them coming, or look forward to their visit? Can you always rely on them for help, or do you know you’ll never get a straight answer?
Take this quick healthcheck test to see just how good your auditors really are – and identify any areas you would like to see improved.
20 Minute Auditor Health Check
Performing a regular health check, such as this 20 minute auditor health check, is an important factor if you are going to get the most out of your auditors and keep on top of bad habits. It will not only help you run your pension scheme more effectively and increase your level of confidence in your auditors, but will also reduce the risk of a few bad habits being the tip of the iceberg with more significant issues going undetected.
What to do
Take each of the three dimensions of service excellence in turn. On each, score three points for every time you choose A; two points if you choose B and one point if you choose C. At the end of the health check, add up your score to see what your vital signs show. Then monitor your progress by taking the test again in six months’ time or just after the end of the audit to see how much you’ve improved.
Do you agree service expectations? For example, promptness, cost, staff continuity, etc.
a) Yes, we have written service expectations
b) Yes, we informally agree service expectations
c) We do not agree service expectations
Did you benchmark the time taken to complete the audit?
a) We compared the time taken to perform the audit against last year’s audit and Ash Shaw’s 30 day challenge. For further information visit
b) We compared the time taken to perform the audit against last year’s audit
c) We do not benchmark the time taken to perform the audit
When did you last benchmark your audit fees against another auditor?
a) Under four years ago
b) Four to seven years ago
c) Over seven years ago
Do you compare actual performance against agreed service expectations?
a) Yes, within one month after the service was performed
b) Yes, but informally or after one month after the service was performed
c) We do not review performance
When was client feedback last requested from you by your auditor?
a) Under three years ago
b) Over three years ago
c) Never
How promptly are telephone calls returned?
a) Within 24 hours
b) 1 day to 2 days
c) Over 2 days
Are audit queries and concerns dealt with;
a) Very promptly
b) Promptly
c) Not promptly at all
Are promises kept;
a) Always
b) Sometimes missed
c) Frequently broken
Do you deal with the same member of audit staff throughout your audit?
a) Always
b) Sometimes
c) Never
When did you last change audit manager/partner?
a) Over three years ago
b) Two to three years ago
c) Less than two years ago
Do you meet your auditors to discuss the audit, developments and service
a) More than once a year
b) At least once a year
c) Never
Do you always agree fees in advance of work being performed?
a) Always
b) Sometimes
c) Never
Do the auditors explain their audit approach in a manner you understand?
a) Yes
b) Somewhat
c) No, they do not explain it at all
Does the audit work commence when expected?
a) Yes, always
b) Sometimes
c) No, it’s really when the auditors can fit us in
Is work completed when expected?
a) Yes, always
b) Within a couple of days
c) No, it’s when the auditors can fit us in
The world of knowledge never stands still, so;
a) Our auditors keep us informed so that we stay ahead of the game
b) We are offered seminars from time to time
c) We rely on experience that comes from doing our role
How easy is it to do business with your auditors?
a) Very easy
b) Quite easy
c) It feels like hard work
How effectively do you feel your auditors work with your other advisers?
a) Very well
b) Quite well
c) It feels like hard work
What difference does your auditor make to your team of advisers?
a) Our auditors act as our eyes and ears and makes a valued contribution
b) Some difference
c) None
How would you describe your auditors’ experience?
a) Very experienced.They get the job done effectively and offer valuable advice
b) Experienced and get the job done even if somewhat inefficiently
c) Get the job done, but with painful delays and inefficiencies
My general level of motivation towards the audit would be best described as;
a) Good – I look forward to the audit visit
b) Tolerable – I do not mind the auditors’ visit
c) Dreadful – Not again!
What do your vital signs tell you?
On each Dimension above, score three points for every time you choose A; two points if you choose B and one point if you choose C. Now, add up your score to see what your vital signs show.
Outstanding Performance
Score 1-10 = red, 11-20 = amber, 21-30 =green
Quality Business Processes
Score 1-5 = red, 6-12 = amber, 13-18 =green
Outstanding Confidence
Score 1-5 = red, 6-10 = amber, 11-15 =green
Total up your red, amber and green scores:
This month
By six months or just
after the end of the audit
You’re working effectively, but you can improve further.
Work at your weakest point. Look at where you can improve or where you’ve been let down. The questions where you answered A or B will show you your opportunities.
Review your progress over the last six months and identify opportunities for improvement. Remember, small changes can make a significant difference.
You’re getting basic service with no added value. To progress you need to increase intensity and challenge your advisers
Spend a few minutes visualising how you would like to work with your advisers more effectively. Now make it happen.
Review your progress over the last six months and see if your visualisation has materialised. Decide what went as planned? What could be done better? What changes need to happen for improvement?
Your service levels need improving, but this doesn’t mean lots of pain. Just get the basics in place.
Act now. Review your service expectations and agree where expectations were at least met and where there is scope for improvement. Where improvement is identified, agree what actions need to be taken and the time for your next review.
Assess performance against the newly agreed service expectations and continue to challenge your auditors to meet your agreed service levels.
Significant improvements can be made in less than a year. Congratulations for starting.
Well done, you’ve finished! But then you care about having a well-run pension scheme – just like us.
This assessment is taken from Ash Shaw’s Client Service Excellence Programme for pension trustees and advisers who value the importance of working with their auditors more effectively.
This helpsheet is one of many being regularly produced by Ash Shaw as part of our commitment to making the pensions industry more efficient, effective and accessible.
This has been adapted from an original Helpsheet produced by Ash Shaw Llp, specialist pension scheme auditors.
The full version of this Helpsheet is available online and can be viewed as a PDF version 20 minute auditor health check  20 Minute Auditor health check PDF
For further information, contact Gareth Burton, Partner, on or visit

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