The fundamental principles and requirements for auditing are a set of guidelines that auditors must follow when performing an audit. These principles were developed by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and are intended to ensure that audits are conducted in a consistent and effective manner. In this article, we will discuss each of these principles in detail and explain why they are important.
A brief introduction of ISA 200
ISA 200, Overall Objectives of the Independent Auditor and the Conduct of an Audit in Accordance with International Standards on Auditing, is one of a series of International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). The standard outlines a general framework for auditors when conducting audits. The primary focus of the ISA is audit quality, which includes reliability and relevance.
ISA 200 principles and requirements for auditing
Independence is essential for auditors because it helps ensure that they are impartial and objective in their work. Auditors must be independent from the entities they are auditing, as well as from any interested parties who may have a vested interest in the outcome of the audit.
Independence is a fundamental principle in accounting and involves acting in the public interest. It means that an individual and their firm should not be involved with circumstances that could lead to a failure of objectivity when deciding the outcome of an audit. For example, the individual or firm should be independent from any involvement with the client, i.e., an auditor cannot also perform consultancy work for a client. The auditor must also not have any vested interests that conflict with performing the audit
Competence means that auditors are qualified to perform their work and have the necessary knowledge and experience to do so effectively. They must also maintain their competency by staying up-to-date on changes in accounting standards and other relevant topics. ISA 200 requires that a firm and the individuals it uses have adequate expertise and capabilities in the subject matter and the specific engagement (whether audit) to enable them to perform their roles in accordance with relevant requirements.
Objectivity requires that auditors base their findings on evidence, rather than personal opinions or assumptions. This helps ensure that audits are conducted in a fair and unbiased manner. Objectivity is defined by ISA 200 as “freedom from bias or influence” . The auditor maintains objectivity throughout the audit process to provide reasonable assurance that the financial statements do not contain material misstatements.
Integrity means that auditors adhere to the highest ethical standards and maintain the trust of those they serve. They must also be forthright and honest in their dealings with others, both inside and outside of the audit profession.
Due care requires that auditors exercise reasonable judgement and take appropriate actions to protect the interests of those they are serving. This includes making sure that audits are conducted in a timely manner and using appropriate procedures and resources.
Professional accountants must at least exercise the care and skill that can reasonably be expected from a professional accountant. For example, if a business relationship between an audit firm and the entity being audited exists, the audit firm should obtain another to conduct the audit. Clarity on due care also helps to prevent conflicts of interest as it ensures that the auditor has no personal stake in the results of an audit. Internal auditors will also be required to prove due care in court if legal action occurs.
Confidentiality means that auditors keep information confidential unless it is necessary to disclose it in order to carry out their duties effectively. The auditor should safeguard the security of audit documentation and should not allow their access by unauthorized persons. Safeguards to achieve confidentiality should include physical means such as keeping paper records in a locking file and electronic means such as controlling access to electronic records. This helps ensure that information is not inappropriately disclosed and that the privacy of individuals and businesses is protected.
Professional scepticism requires auditors to question the information they are presented with and to approach their work with a critical mind. This helps ensure that audits are conducted in a thorough and objective manner.
Communication means that auditors effectively exchange information with those they are serving, as well as with other members of the audit team. This helps ensure that everyone involved in the audit process has a clear understanding of what is happening and can work together collaboratively to achieve desired results.
Accountability means that auditors are responsible for their actions and take steps to ensure that they are answerable for their work. This includes maintaining accurate records of their findings and ensuring that appropriate corrective actions are taken in response to any deficiencies they identify.
Professional judgement requires auditors to use their skills and experience to make informed decisions about the best course of action to take in any given situation. This helps ensure that audits are conducted in a manner that is consistent with the highest ethical standards.
In the context of conducting an audit, professional judgment promotes a culture of professional scepticism in which auditors challenge the quality of the evidence presented to them and are not easily satisfied with an explanation that sounds plausible, but which could possibly be misleading or inaccurate. It might also require auditors to question whether they possess all the relevant information they need to make a sound judgment.
Benefits of Auditors using ISA 200 Requirements for Auditing
The main benefit of auditors using ISA 200 requirements for auditing is that it allows them to plan and conduct an effective and efficient audit. By having a set of specific requirements to follow, auditors are able to have a better understanding of what they need to look for during the course of an audit. This can help minimize the time needed to complete the audit while still providing a comprehensive assessment. Additionally, using ISA 200 helps ensure that audits are conducted in a consistent manner across organizations, which can provide added assurance to stakeholders. Another key benefit of using ISA 200 is that it helps improve auditor independence. When standards are followed, it can help reduce the potential for audit bias or interference. This can be particularly important when audits are conducted for organizations that are subject to regulatory scrutiny.
ISA 200 also helps improve the quality of auditing reports. By providing specific guidance on what should be included in an audit report, it helps ensure that key information is conveyed effectively to stakeholders. This can help them better understand the results of the audit and any associated risks. Finally, using ISA 200 can help strengthen auditor competence and proficiency. The standards provide detailed guidance on how to effectively carry out an audit, which can help auditors develop the necessary skills and knowledge needed to do their job well. This can ultimately lead to a higher degree of confidence in the Audit findings.
By following these principles, auditors can help ensure that they conduct their work effectively and efficiently, while also protecting the interests of those they serve. A key benefit of using an audit software such as auditproo is that the objectivity principle is enhanced through structured work programmes. The ISA 200 principles provide a valuable framework for all auditors, whether they are new to the profession or have years of experience.