Six Key Habits of Good Audit Firms

Six Key Habits of Good Audit Firms

Executing a good audit is never easy as most auditors and their clients are under severe time and budgetary pressure. Covid has contributed to these pressures. If you would like to know how to do better and more efficient audits have a look at our summary of this recent report.

The UK Financial Reporting Council recently published a report called ‘What Makes a Good Audit?’ The report highlights the six key habits that progressive audit firms have developed to ensure that they carry out better-quality audits. These are:

  1. Assessing firm quality risks (careful risk assessment at the outset of the audit);
  2. Mindset, culture governance and leadership (avoid conflicts of interest or threats to independence);
  3. Performance monitoring and remediation (root cause analysis followed by decisive corrective action);
  4. Quality monitoring (cold file reviews and hot file reviews which act as a preventative control);
  5. Resources – investment in well-qualified people (staff and Partner appraisals and training);
  6. Information and communication (training scope is broadening to include soft skills and critical thinking training.

Among the key best examples of audit techniques identified in the report are the following:

  • “The journal entry testing across the group was thorough and well controlled; in particular the selection criteria used for journal entry testing and the communication of those detailed criteria as required procedures for the component teams. This ensured that the identified fraud risks associated with revenue recognition and management override of controls were appropriately considered across the group.”
  • “In those areas which required the exercise of significant judgement by management, the audit team structured its audit working papers in such a way to identify the key judgements, how they were challenged and how that challenge was concluded. The approach adopted was particularly effective and helped provide clear context to the audit and the conclusions reached.”
  • “The audit team obtained direct confirmations from customers to verify that revenue for major contracts for the first ten months of the year had been appropriately recognised.”
  • “The audit firm integrated the key audit behaviours into the performance evaluation forms for all audit staff”
  • “The firm achieves a very high completion rate for mandatory training and has clear consequences for individuals that do not attend, including a process for identifying repeat offenders.”

The report makes for very interesting reading and is available here.

For more details recently published Audit Quality Control Manual (October 2021) (implementing the latest Irish Audit & Accounting Supervisory Authority standards including ISQC1 on audit quality control). View the Table of Contents here.

We also have an up to date Anti-Money Laundering Procedures Manual (September 2021) – View the Table of Contents here.

How to deal ethically with conflicts of interest

How to deal ethically with conflicts of interest

As we highlighted last week there is a newly revised and restructured Code of Ethics coming soon for accountants in Ireland, expected to be effective from the 1st of March 2020.

Sometimes accountants realise they have a conflict of interest due to lack of foresight or pre-planning. An example could be trying to sort out a dispute between two clients of the same accountant. The new Code seeks to address this with more guidance.

Conflicts of Interest

The sections on conflicts of interest in the new code have been completely replaced and split into two sections, 210 and 310, covering ‘business’ and ‘public practice’ respectively.

These sections have been revised and the guidance on ‘how to apply the conflicts of interest requirements’ has been enhanced.

The new section maintains the requirement for all parties to be notified of the conflict and obtain their explicit written consent, but also:

  • Gives examples of the types of conflict of interest;
  • Makes explicit reference to the ‘RITP’ test – the Reasonable and Informed Third Party test (which was only hinted at in the past). The definition of ‘RIPT’:
    • The reasonable and informed third party is someone ‘who weighs all the relevant facts and circumstances that the accountant knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, at the time the conclusions are made. The reasonable and informed third party does not need to be an accountant, but would possess the relevant knowledge and experience to understand and evaluate the appropriateness of the accountant’s conclusions in an impartial manner.’ – (from 120.5 A4 in the proposed new Code of Ethics)
  • Sections 210/310 also provide additional discussion of matters such as conflict identification processes, safeguards, types of disclosure and consent, and when work can be taken on without disclosure and consent.

A helpful flowchart to aid the decision-making process regarding conflicts of interest is available at this link (courtesy of the ICAEW helpsheet from December 2019).

Watch our website for the forthcoming webinar on the new rules.

See our latest additions to the website store which are the AML Business-Wide Risk Assessment Word template and a webinar on how to prepare it. Both of these help firms comply with the latest requirements of Section 30A of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts, 2010 to 2018, effective from 26 November 2018.

For other webinar topics including Investment Property Accounting, FRS 105, Common Errors in FRS 102 Accounting and the latest on FRS 105 and company law, visit our online webinar training website.

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