The need for journal entry testing arises when the auditor needs to test the nature, timing, and extent of journal entries. It is done to recognize the risk of material misstatement due to fraud while recording financial transactions.
The auditor should be vigil in its audit of transactions and should look at all the transactions of suspicious nature. The auditor should verify all the transactions with the supporting documents and all the entries should be duly authorized by higher authority after accountant records the transactions.
During audit, the auditor usually tests the sample transactions by following substantive procedures. He verifies the authenticity, validity, accuracy of the transactions.
During this procedure he may cross check the journal entries with the supporting documents, vouchers. Journal entry testing is carried out to have a proper understanding of the internal control system of the company.
This testing also reflects on the compliance procedures adopted by the company in dealing with the established rules and standards of accounting and auditing.
Journal entries are prepared by the accountants so this testing should involve the inquiries of management and other staffs including the internal auditors about the risks of fraud. Journal entry testing is carried out by the auditors who audit the financial transactions of the company.
Else the testing can be done for external requirements when a court or government orders a probe into the financial transactions of the company due to financial misconduct, fraud, and negligence.
Importance of Journal Entry Testing:
Data analysis in audits: Audit testing is carried out to gather sufficient and appropriate audit evidence. Without testing journal entries, the professional requirement for documentation and test of efficiency and effectiveness of the internal control system cannot be carried out. Data analysis has become a wide field to recognize the trend and is necessary for the success of the enterprise.
Maintains quality and efficiency: The volume of data used in companies is increasing manifold. These transactions are recorded in accounting packages. Hence it helps to increase the authenticity, validity, and accuracy of the transactions. The journal entry testing ensures that all the postings are done in line with standards set by the organization and following all the audit and accounting standards.
Detects misstatements including fraud: This testing is done on sample entries and if any suspicion arises on such entries, the auditor goes through extensive audit procedures viz. compliance and substantive procedures to detect misstatements and frauds. The frauds when detected during journal entries testing mean that auditors need to expand their audit sample and, in some cases, extend to the whole of the population.
Test the appropriateness of the entries made: This testing is carried out to know whether the entries are authorized by the higher authority and the proper backing of such entries is available.
Test the existence, working of internal control system: Journal entry testing helps in detecting the existence, the efficiency of the internal control system. When the internal control system is functioning properly, the frauds cannot go unnoticed and it can be detected by maker and checker policy. Maker and checker policy basically mean a dual way of preparation of any accounting records and verification of the same by another accounting staff preferably of higher authority and qualification.
Used as evidence during forensic audits: When forensic audits are carried out to unearth the frauds in a company, journal entry testing can be used as evidence by the investigating agencies in trial proceedings. When it has been established in the journal entry testing that internal controls have been good, forensic audits can be conducted thoroughly and effectively and in line with guidance.
Helps to detect the inappropriate financial assertions: Financial assertions include completeness, cut-off, accuracy, occurrence, and classification. So, the recorded expense transactions should pass the above tests. When any lapses occur in relation to the above criteria, journal entry testing can trace those errors. The accountants may make mistakes as a result of ignorance or due to low knowledge of such aspects. Hence, the journal testing would help to remove such assertions but after the entries have been made.
Protects the company and its stakeholders from impacts of fraud: This testing helps to detect the lacunae in the internal control system and frauds in the accounting of the financial transactions. If frauds are detected at an early stage, the reputation of the company still remains intact. How it deals with these circumstances also ensures the survival and brand reputation of the organization.
Expenses depict a decrease in economic benefits for the accounting period. Expenses are in the form of outflows of assets or payments of operating liabilities which results in a decrease in equity. This is other than those relating to distributions to equity shareholders.
Expenses are reduced from the revenues in order to arrive at the net profit for the accounting period. Expenses include utilities, office supplies, transportation, professional fees, consulting fees, and insurance.
In financial statements, expenses are sometimes called general and administrative expenses or operating expenses. They are recorded only in the income statement in the expenses section. They are not shown in other statements like balance sheet, statement of change in equity, or statement of cash flow.
Here, we will discuss the overall audit procedures for expenses that normally perform by auditors, key audit assertion used by management to records the expenses, and test by auditor.
Audit Assertions for Expenses
Audit of expenses can be done by testing various audit assertions of completeness, accuracy, occurrence, and cut-off. Audit procedures are relevant to gather appropriate audit evidence in order to make a conclusion with regards to expenses.
The understatement of expenses will make look financial statements better than it is. Therefore, the auditors shall primarily look at such cases of an understatement. In the case of auditing expenses, the most important aspect is the completeness of records in the income statement.
The lack of strong internal controls will lead to an understatement of expenses. This usually happens due to fraud committed by the internal staff. Near the end of the reporting date, the management may try to delay incurring expenses in order to avoid getting the expenses being reported. Hence, they might do this by recording in the next accounting period and avoiding the current. This is simply understating the profits and need to be checked by the auditors.
Here are the key audit assertions to test the assertions:
The expenses have been incurred are complete records and timely recorded up to date of reporting
The expenses have been differentiated as per the accrual system and recorded in the proper accounting period.
The expenses are recorded accurately for the amount
The expenses have been actually incurred and related to the business.
The expenses have been properly classified as factory, administration and selling expenses if necessary.
Risk of Material Misstatement for Expenses
The primary risk of material misstatement is the risk that internal control may not able to detect or prevent the issues related to procedures that are inherent. It is the combination of both inherent risk and control risk.
The risk of being susceptible to misstatement due to the nature of the debt is the inherent risk of the debt. Control risk occurs when the internal control system of the auditee fails to prevent or detect material misstatement in the debt.
The primary inherent risk would be the understatement of expenses. This would lead to over-reporting the profits in the current accounting period. This happens when incentives are linked to profit or as result of intense pressure from within the company.
Take, for instance, branch managers are given a 5% incentive bonus as a percentage of profit if a certain business is achieved. In this case, the branch manager would try to overstate profit by underreporting the profits due to the inherent structure of the incentive.
The varieties of inherent risks that may occur in the audit of expenses are as follows:
The expenses have been accrued, not recorded and not yet paid.
The expenses are recorded as asset to understate the expenses and overstate the asset. Take for an instance, installation of newly purchased machinery.
The general repairs and maintenance expenses are added to the cost of fixed assets.
Changing the accounting period to close books early. This has although happened very rarely.
Breaking down the large expenses into smaller ones to avoid checks and cut-off procedures employed by the auditors.
The varieties of control risks that may occur in the audit of expenses are as follows:
Dividing duties among various staffs to make purchases, receive goods and proper accounting in the system.
Proper authorization on all expenses and payment
Matching the purchase invoice with amount of goods received along with transportation invoice.
Take for example, in case no authorization control is employed, the risk that expenses have been incurred for fictitious or personal purposes increase.
Substantive Audit Procedures for Expenses
In the case of expenses, substantive audit procedures would include substantive analytical procedures and tests of details. Analytical procedures mean gathering the audit evidence with respect to audit assertions. The accounting trends, financial ratios, and relationships among data are analyzed in such a procedure. Following are some substantive audit procedures to be followed while auditing expenses:
Obtain all the supporting documents such as invoices, voucher slips, etc for the expense being incurred
Perform further audit procedures when expenses reach the amount above the budget threshold significantly (by more than 10%)
Check whether proper authorization has been done with regard to expenses.
Verify that vendors exist through third party confirmation and making surprise visits when goods are received and auditing goods received a note with the physical purchase being received.
Ensure that proper classification has been made for expenses with respect to revenue expenditure and capital expenditure.
Verify the related party expenses and ensure they are being reported with notes to financial statements where necessary.
Debt is simply liabilities, the amount the company owes to someone. Auditing of debt requires an understanding of complex debt instruments, classification of debt as per covenants, and characteristics of debt. In the financial statements, debit balance at the reporting date is reporting the balance sheet under current or non-current liabilities depending on the maturity of the debt.
The debts such as detachable warrants have equity features that can lead to various complications. There are transactions like a lease that ends up creating debt even if the intention is completely different.
Organizations all big or small deal in debts in some form or other. Debt forms major part of total liabilities.
The balances of debt need checks of rigid internal control systems employed by the management of the company, extensive substantive procedures wherever necessary, and since it is related to an outside party, balance confirmation through books and from the party.
In this article, we are going to discuss certain areas related to the auditing of debt which including the general risks of material misstatements related to the debt, assets assertion to test the existence and valuation of debt, and the interest calculation. We will also discuss the substantive procedures that auditors normally performs to test or audit debt in the financial statements.
The relevant debt assertions related to debt are completeness, classification, and obligation. Completeness and classification are prioritized by auditors in general.
The balances of debt on the balance sheet would mean that the requirements related to debt is complete and it is being classified correctly.
Classification of debt would mean the differentiation between long- and short-term debt. Further, the transaction also needs assurance regarding whether the debt is involved and not equity through the features. Debt is the obligation of the entity that is being audited.
This states that all the debt obligations have been recorded properly.
On the date of balance sheet, all the obligations of the company have been reported.
The balances of the debt accounts correctly reflect the actual economic value.
Rights and obligation
The company owes a sum of money on the date of reporting of the balance sheet.
Presentation and disclosure
Debts are correctly classified into current and non-current liabilities as per applicable accounting standards.
Visualization of debt is necessary to understand the assertions that need to be checked. The visualization of debt also checks if any internal control weakness exists. The following are the questions to be asked while visualizing the debt:
Documents to inspect
Existence of debt covenants and violations, if any
Nature of violations
Preparation of amortization schedules.
Line of credit available to the company
Inspection of loan documents.
Existence of sinking funds
Reconciliation of debt in the general ledger to the loan amortization schedule
Further, in case of the existence of weakness in control, the auditors must create substantive audit procedures to address the issue. Take, for instance, the person has been made responsible is same for loan documentation and reconciliation. There is no scope of verification and double-checking. In this case, the auditors shall perform substantive audit procedures related to fraud.
Major debt risks
This would include the following:
Understatement or omitting of debt
Wrong classification of debt i.e. non-current liabilities recorded as current as on the balance sheet date.
The company would always want to understate its risk if it’s unethical. It can wrongly classify current debt as non-current debt to make the balance sheets look healthier on the outside. The company’s working capital ratio in such a scenario improves and then the company can get an additional loan on this basis.
Risk of Material Misstatement in Audit of Debt
The inherent risk and control risk in the obligations form the risk of material misstatement in debt. The risk of being susceptible to misstatement due to the nature of the debt is the inherent risk of the debt. Control risk occurs when the internal control system of the auditee fails to prevent or detect material misstatement in the debt.
To name some risks, unauthorized transactions, wrong recording of debt and non-confirmation with debt accounting standards are material misstatements.
An unauthorized transaction is a case where someone other than the person authorized and responsible for debt-related affairs deals with the debt matters either within the entity or with the outsiders. Such risks generally create the risk of fraud which is itself material misstatement. The audit client shall correctly record debt as per applicable accounting standards.
The proper classification shall be done. Further, the breach of debt covenants also leads to material misstatements. Hence, the auditor needs to clearly understand the borrowing arrangements and check if they are complied in time and in full.
Substantive Procedures for Debt:
The general substantive procedures are followed if the auditor decides in the light of his professional judgement and experience. These are the general procedures:
Summarizing and review the various debt covenants from the clients and then test the completeness testing of the debt covenants
Perform the positive confirmation on the selected sample size to confirm the existence of debts and their accuracy.
Reviewing all the terms and conditions of debt and check the level of compliance
Process of preparation and maintenance of amortization schedules.
Obtain the schedule of debt or borrowing including the interest calculation at the end of the period or year-end. Ensure that the listing have certain important information including the name of the lender, maturity date, borrowing date, interest rate, interest date, and balance at the end of the reporting date
Obtaining the board minutes with respect to new debts or borrowings
Audit procedures also referred to as audit programs involve the procedures, methods, and strategies that auditors implement in order to achieve audit confirmation. It assists them to deduce if the audit objective was fulfilled according to the given data.
Auditing is carried out in three steps:
Step 1 – Recognize the statement claim being tested
Audit procedures are carried out in order to test financial statement claims. Hence, the initial step in the auditing procedure is to recognize the statement claim that would be tested.
Step 2: Planning the audit procedure
Planning the audit procedure before performed helps avoid any risks.
Step 3: Important aspects to consider while finalizing the audit procedure
Be Clear – Every step performed should be clear so that a junior auditor can also benefit and be able to comprehend the audit process.
Provide Reasoning – Along with the procedure, there should be solid reasoning of the chosen audit procedure. It assures the that the entity has gained goods from an approved purchase order.
Practice audit terminology – The terms associated in the audit language can be used like ‘trace’, ‘cast’, ‘agree’, etc.
What is provision?
A provision is a control against profit and it is not an assumption of profit. It is debited to profit and loss. In order to meet a liability, provision is made. It’s known but the amount of it cannot be precisely calculated. One of the best examples of this can be provided for depreciation.
To calculate the real profit and loss, it is required to make provisions. All the provisions are debited to the profit and loss account regardless of the amount of profit or loss. If the amount or the payment timing is undefined then the provisions come under the form of payable, which is harder to audit. In such cases, the auditor needs to:
Verify with a discussion with the client whether the obligation truly occurs giving rise to the provision.
Attain approval of the clients’ lawyers to reach the possible consequence and chances of doing payment eventually.
Examine following procedures so the issues settle while the audit is taking place.
Get a letter of representation from the client, as the matter is centered around decision and doubt
Recalculate the provision if possible, e.g. assurance of repairs provisions.
Examples of provisions include:
Provision for corrupt and uncertain debts
Provision for income tax
Provision for conditional liability
Provision for unpaid liabilities, etc.
Audit procedure for provision
Auditors should get adequate audit data to determine whether an accounting estimation is valid and that release is suitable. In order to fulfil the task they should follow these steps:
Assess and evaluate the procedure taken by management to progress the estimation
Check the agreements or guidelines for the terms of the contract to achieve a satisfactory responsibility
Analyze messages with clients during the time period to achieve an understanding of the statements previously evolved during the year
Execute reasoned trials to associate the level of contract provision year on year, and equate the budgeted to real provisions
Re-evaluate the warranty provision
Approve the percentage functional in the calculation to the indicated accounting plan of the client
Appraise board minutes to discuss the current warranty assertions, and get the endorsement of the amount delivered
Responsibilities of the auditor during the audit procedure of provisions
It is the responsibility of an auditor to make sure that all the provisions are completed during the year with caution. The following is the significant part of auditors that they perform during verifying provisions:
Confirm that provisions are performed with respect to all obligations and contingencies.
Make sure that the sum provided is acceptable.
Inspect the minutes of the meeting of the panel of executives and the requirements of Articles of Association concerning the provisions to be prepared.
Certify that all provisions are performed in consideration to debiting the profit and loss account.
Certify that the provisions are consumed only for the aim of which they are produced.
Ensure that the financial statements have all the appropriate provisions
A company reaches profit only after making essential provisions. If the provisions are insufficient, the profit may be exaggerated and thus surplus may be paid out of capital. On the other hand, if additional provisions are made, the account may not demonstrate the actual and reasonable condition of the dealings of the business.
Auditing is considered as a very integral function of the business because it validates the extent to which operations and financial standing within the company have been taken care of.
In this regard, it is increasingly important to recognize the fact that the process itself is supposed to be designed and executed in the manner in which the best possible results can be achieved.
In this regard, there are numerous different steps and processes that should be carried out in order to ensure that the audit process is designed to cover all audit assertions, so that there is no ambiguity regarding the way forward with the audit process.
Substantive audit procedures tend to be one of the most important aspects of the audit process, because of the important role it plays in the gathering the required evidence for the audit.
Substantive audit procedures can be regarded as processes or steps that are taken by the auditors to create conclusive evidence pertaining to completeness, existence, disclosure, rights, or valuation of assets.
Therefore, this is mainly about gathering conclusive audit procedures, so that a conclusion can be reached upon, pertaining to the underlying audit procedure.
These processes, are therefore, carried out by the auditors in order to ensure that there are no material misstatements in the financial statements.
Usually, a procedure is considered as a substantive audit procedure only I the two auditors who carry out this particular task are able to reach the same conclusion pertaining to the audit assertion as the other auditor.
As far as the Test of Detail is concerned, it can be seen that it mainly includes verification of transactions, account balances, as well as to disclosures.
This is an important component because of the reason that it helps the auditors to ensure that there are no malpractices evident in the reported transactions within the companies.
In the same manner, it is also imperative to ensure that these details have been corroborated in order to gather the much needed reasonable accuracy relating to that specific component.
On the other hand, as far as Analytical Procedures are concerned, it is deduced that it consists of evaluations of financial information through analysis of plausible relationships among financial, as well as non-financial data.
They mainly comprise of investigation of different identified fluctuations that are relatively inconsistent with other information within the same threshold.
As a matter of fact, both these types of substantive audit procedures contribute in a different manner towards the audit process, because they tend to focus on the minute details of the audit transactions that have been reported so that a better conclusive judgment can be drawn.
Examples of Substantive Audit Procedures
As mentioned earlier, substantive audit procedures can be defined as numerous verifications and checks that are carried out on numerous different levels in order to ensure that all necessary ground has been covered.
In general, substantive audit procedures can include the following:
Examination of documents that indicate that the procedure was performed
Performing procedures twice (or more, if required), to ensure that procedure functions as expected
Inquiring or observing regarding transactions that take place
In order to conduct procedures like the ones mentioned above, substantive audit procedures will have to be conducted including bank confirmation, accounts receivable confirmations, observation of physical inventory counts, observation of fixed assets, confirmation of account payables, the examination of accounts receivable as well as confirmation of the debt.
Importance of Substantive Audit Procedures
As a matter of fact, substantive audit procedures are deemed important because they tend to provide backing and claim regarding the judgement that has been made by the auditor.
It is considered as an increasingly important part of the audit process, because of the reason that it tends to eliminate any unwarranted claims that could otherwise have been put forth by the auditor.
Therefore, it adds a layer of validation within the audit process because they know that these audit procedures have been carried out in sufficient detail.
Therefore, it can be seen that Substantive Audit Procedures can be considered as a really crucial aspect of the overall audit process because of the fact that they tend to provide the groundwork for the claims made by the auditor.
They ensure that there are no discrepancies or misstatements in the financial statements, and therefore, this greatly helps them to determine that no overgeneralizations have been made in this regard.
Audit procedures are considered integral in facilitating a smoothly conducted audit process that can deliver the required results.
Given the high degree of importance that is tied with the audit process, it is imperative that planning within the audit function is taken care of in a serious manner so that planning and execution within the audit process are carried out in a better manner.
During the audit process, it can be seen that audit procedure are designed so that sufficient groundwork is obtained so that reasonable assurance can be gathered before making a statement.
As far as cash is concerned, it can be seen that it is regarded as a relatively risky asset stream because of the reason that it might be used without proper authorization.
Given the liquid nature of the cash assets, it can be seen that there is a need to ensure that this is properly audited, because of its vulnerability to be under fraud, or malpractice.
Audit Procedures for Cash and Cash Equivalents
Firstly, when deciding upon the audit procedures that are used for cash, there is a need to ensure that there is proper clarity regarding the existing business model of the client, as well as internal control policies that are in place in order to ascertain the groundwork that needs to be covered in this regard.
When auditors test for cash and cash equivalents, there is a need to ensure that they are able to cover the respective assertions for cash, on the following grounds:
Existence: This is to check if the cash balances on the balance sheet exist at the date of financial statements or not. This is checked by ensuring that the bank statements that are issued by the bank have the respective balance that is declared on the balance sheet by the company or not.
Completeness: This measure checks if the cash balances actually include all the cash transactions that have taken place during the accounting period. In the case of transactions taking place within the company, all records are duly maintained. For example, a sales invoice would be proof that the debit transaction in the company’s books is actually because of sales income.
Rights and Obligations: This is to verify that the company has the legal right to declare the amount of cash it has declared, on the reporting date. This calls for companies to have sufficient proof that they own that particular cash, or cash equivalent. For example, they cannot declare money not yet received from a customer as a cash or cash equivalent.
Values/ Allocation: This assertion verifies that the recorded balances actually reflect the true underlying economic value of cash. This amount should not be overstated, and should be included as per the existing value in the bank accounts, or the equivalents that the company has.
Presentation and/or Disclosure: Cash should be properly disclosed in the balance sheet with adequate and required disclosure made in the notes to the statements. All the sources of cash should be properly disclosed, with any other information that is relevant to the shareholders. The cash and cash equivalents should be broken down into cash in the bank, and other cash that the company might have on the reporting date.
Keeping these assertions in mind, the auditor is then supposed to check for various different procedures for cash, which include the following.
Bank Confirmation: This process is mainly undertaken in order to ask for verification or confirmation to the external party, which is primarily cash, as well as the underlying balances the company actually holds at the bank.
In order to verify the balance at the bank, it is rudimentary for the company to ensure that they are able to obtain a formal, writer authority by the relevant bank, so that the bank can disclose the respective information to the client with proper information.
Furthermore, once the authorization process has been covered, it is important to follow up on all the points of the bank confirmation.
Bank Reconciliation: This tends to be another integral component of the audit procedure for cash and cash equivalents.
This is because after the bank confirmation and statements have been issued, the auditor is supposed to compare the bank statements sent by the bank and the cash statement prepared by the bank in order to check for any discrepancies.
In this regard, they are supposed to check and agree with the balances per bank statement that is shown on the reconciliation to the bank statement as well as balances that are shown otherwise.
This also tests these balances arithmetically, to ensure that there are no discrepancies in the calculation, whatsoever.
These audit procedures to check for cash and cash equivalents is created in order to ensure that there are no differences in the actual amount the company owns, and the amount it has disclosed on the balance sheet.
In the same manner, this backward trail also helps to identify any leakages or potential areas of fraud within the cash system of the company.
As a matter of fact, it can be seen that audit procedures for cash and cash equivalents can be considered as an integral part of the audit.
This is because of the reason that the audit procedures are conducted in order to ensure that there are no existing discrepancies, and the work is carried out as per the required standards.
In this regard, it is imperative that auditors take their time in evaluating these procedures so that there is no ambiguity, and any chances of errors or fraud can be discovered well in time.