A term usually referring to a financial audit is a set of procedures performed by accountants from a certified public accountant (CPA) firm. The procedures are designed to investigate and verify the accounting information that manage- ment puts in financial report. When the audit is completed, the accounting firm issues an opinion on the fairness of the financial statement, not on how well the company is performing. The Exchange and Securities Commission require all companies that have publicly traded stock to present their annual financial report with audited financial statement. The financial statements are supposed to give investors the information necessary to evaluate the company's performance and make good invest- ment decision. The audit lends credibility to the financial state- ments presented by managers of the company. Many financial institutions also require audited financial statements before lending money to an entity.