The priority of quality

14 July 2021 | Business

Gerrit Esterhuyse - Maybe at a very basic level we need to revisit what it really is what the auditor is doing before we dive into what the perceived value is that the auditor brings to an organisation.

An auditor is required to assess the compliance of an organisation to a selected accounting framework, i.e. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or IFRS for SMEs, and relevant laws and regulations. In doing so the auditor needs to execute his/her duties in compliance with the 36 International Standards on Auditing (ISAs).

In short this will be a familiar phrase: Build and sustain public trust.

You may have read plenty of articles recently of the auditing profession finding itself at a crossroads. Questions have been asked as to where the auditors were in the event of corporate failures.

DEMANDS

The demands of the regulators are ever increasing and becoming more complex. Accounting standards and ISAs have been changed and will be changed again. As such the demands on auditors have changed.

Quality has always been important and will always be. But there is perhaps now a much keener focus on quality in relation to other aspects of an audit - it has become even more important, or at least for the time being.

Normal tender selection criteria when appointing an auditor should have a sharper focus on quality. Not only on the auditor’s standing with the regulator or the latest International Standard on Quality Control (ISQC1) status.

EXAMPLES

* Is the auditor involving specialists when required and to the degree that they are required when considering components of the financial statements that has a higher degree of specialism - i.e. complying with tax laws, considering the IT dependencies and the IT environment, valuations, provisioning, financial statements being reviewed to ensure that the stock exchange’s requirements are met, involving forensic specialists in some respects, etc.

* Understanding how the auditor discharges his/her duties in line with the requirements of the relevant ISAs.

* How is the auditor dealing with the changes in the regulatory environment imposed on organisations but also on auditors?

* In the audit and accounting profession where skills shortages are experienced: How is the auditor developing skills and getting access to skills?

* How is the auditor using technology to drive quality?

* Does the auditor have adequate experienced staff on the engagement?

There are numerous considerations that become all the more important to ensure quality is achieved at the desired level for all stakeholders. For the profession to succeed in meeting all the demands that are expected of it, it requires for all involved to find solutions together.

As a fellow auditor my focus is on quality. Not only quality service to clients but quality in compliance to what is required of me in this ever-changing environment: Quality at a premium.

Gerrit Esterhuyse is the assurance leader at PwC Namibia. Contact him at [email protected]

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