Annual trust account reviews

Trustees must ensure their trust accounts are independently reviewed at certain periods or under particular circumstances. 

This includes: 

  • at the end of a review period (for all retention trusts ONLY - see below for details)
  • as directed by the QBCC (this type of review will not be covered here, as the requirements of the review will be stated in the direction and will be specific to each review/audit).  

What is the review period for a retention trust?

Currently, only retention trust accounts must meet the following periodic reviews:

  • first annual review – 12 months starting from the day the account was opened
  • subsequent annual review – 12 months starting the day after the  previous review period ended
  • closure of a retention trust account – the review period starts on the day the account was opened (if no previous review has been undertaken), or the day after the last review was completed, and ends on the day the account was closed.

Note: there is NO review period for project trusts. These will only need to be reviewed if a review is directed by the QBCC.

Who must carry out a trust account review?

The trustee must engage an auditor to carry out the account review. The auditor must be:

  • independent of the trustee (for example, not an employee or related entity to the trustee) 
  • a registered company auditor – registered company auditors can be found using the ASIC register
  • not excluded by the QBCC commissioner.

The trustee is responsible for engaging the auditor. There is no requirement for the trustee to notify the QBCC of the appointment.

Once an auditor is engaged, the trustee must give them access to any trust records requested by the auditor to enable them to carry out the review.

When must the trust account review be completed?

The account review must: 

  • start within 20 business days of the end of the review period (or within 20 business days of the account being closed) – AND
  • be completed within 40 business days after the review commenced. 

If the account review is being carried out as per a direction by the QBCC, the timeframes given in the direction must be followed.

The auditor must prepare an account review report and submit this to the QBCC within 20 business days after completing the review. A copy of the review report is also given to the trustee for their records. 

When is a trust account review not required?

Trustees are exempt and do not need to engage an auditor to complete a retention trust account review if BOTH of the following apply:

  • no retention amounts were held in the trust account during the review period
  • the QBCC is given a notice (advising why the trustee did not engage an auditor to carry out the review) within 10 business days after the end of the review period using the required form (PDF). 

What is the role of the auditor?

There are a range of rules for using a trust account (administration requirements) and other obligations on the trustee in relation to compliance with the trust framework. The trustee is responsible for ensuring both administration requirements and other obligations are met. 

An auditor is only required to assess compliance as it relates to the administration of the trust.

An auditor must:

  • conduct a review of the trust account records based on a methodology as outlined in ASAE 3100 (Compliance Engagements) for conducting a reasonable assurance engagement on compliance 
  • prepare an account review report to detail the outcome of the review including whether they believe the trustee has complied with the requirements for the administration of the trust account or outline areas where non-compliance has been identified
  • submit their account review report to the QBCC online and provide a copy of the account review report to the trustee.

Detailed information is available in the Auditor’s guide to trust accounts (PDF) to assist independent auditors in completing account reviews.

If, when completing the account review, an auditor believes that any serious instances of non-compliance or irregularities apply in relation to the trust account and/or the trustee, these must be reported to the QBCC online via the myQBCC portal or using the required form (PDF) within 5 business days of forming the opinion.