In a rare speech, Sir Donald Brydon, chair of the Future of Audit in the UK, told a packed conference room that he is a little troubled at the current mood that ‘reaches for a shotgun aimed at auditors every time there is a corporate problem’. 

Speaking at the first ICAEW Audit & Assurance Faculty Audit Conference on 4 October 2019, Brydon, former chair of the London Stock Exchange, stressed the importance of balancing the responsibility and the blame for company failures between auditors, audit committees and company boards.

Ultimately, Brydon said it was directors and their actions, not auditors, that should be to blame for recent audit failures. He did not name any names but recent failures like Carillion and BHS have likely triggered this response along with other reviews.

The Brydon Future of Audit review, an independent UK government review, received 120 responses – a total of 2,500 pages of comment, while over 100 meetings and roundtables were also held to gather views. 

Brydon plans to report back to the UK government on his recommendations by the end of December 2019 and all the consultation responses will be published.

In his speech, Brydon revealed that the review would seek ‘to consider how audit can become a more informative process and product whilst not losing its compliance aspect’.  

Brydon insisted that it was not his intention to ‘redesign Western capitalism’, adding that, it was ‘important to note that many people and organisations have expressed their frustrations with what they see as, essentially, a narrow, backward looking and increasingly rules-obsessed approach to audit’.

He said that one of the respondents to the Review ‘compared the audit to a high jump, in which auditors have little incentive to do more than the minimum required to “clear the bar”.  I repeat that there is a hunger for audit to be informative and not just evidencing compliance.’  

But what does this mean for the future of Irish audit practices? Much of the audit standards that are implemented in the UK, soon follow suit here.

As they say, watch this space. 

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