A financial statement audit is conducted by an independent certified public accountant. The independent auditor’s overarching goal is to obtain reasonable — but not absolute — assurance that the financial statements prepared by plan management are fairly presented. To communicate that assurance, the independent auditor provides an opinion about whether the plan’s financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles as promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) (GAAP) or a special purpose framework that is acceptable to the DOL, such as the modified cash basis of accounting.

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