Auditing of financial statements is normally performed by audit firms based on the engagement that request by the entity. The entity needs its financial statements audited annually sometime based on the law or sometimes based on their own requirements.
A big corporation is normally required by law and small business with low turnover and staffs is normally exempted from the audit. This is to reduce costs since the professional fee like the audit fee is normally high.
There are many users of the audited report and financial statements. Those including employees, management’s team, the board of directors, shareholders, customers, suppliers, banks, creditors and government authority.
Audit of financial statements has a lot of advantages and limitation of auditing to the entity, here they are:
Limitation of auditing:
- The complexity of business and system could sometime limited auditor from obtaining the completed view on entity critical internal controls. Auditors may not be able to perform the correct risk assessment.
- Management intention and override controls are sometimes could not detect by auditors. For example, internal control is reliable only if people working in the entity follow and have the right to execute their roles. However, if management overrides the control, auditors may not be able to detect the fraud risks or errors.
- Materiality based is what auditor uses to perform its review and sampling. That means some sensitive fraud risks with the insignificant amounts that probably out of auditor scope could not be detected by auditors.
- Fraud detection is not an auditor’s responsibility. This is what stated in the audit engagement and audit standards. This sometimes different from the entity’s management expectations. Auditors should perform fraud risks assessment, but the fraud risk detection and prevention is not their primary responsibility in the audit engagement. Public and management think fraud detection is the auditor’s responsibility.
- Auditors will conclude that there are no material misstatements found if, after their testing, they found nothing materially misstated. However, the conclusion here is based on their sampling. Audit sampling might not cover the material errors or fraud, especially auditors who lead or perform the critical risk areas do not have enough skill and experience.
- Time constraints can affect the quality of audit works and reports. This happens when auditors have a lot of clients on hand at the same time, and they could not manage their tasks that the quality that had set.
- Auditor’s qualification is essential for the quality of the audit report. Some auditors have enough experience not only in auditing skills but also in the industry that they are auditing. However, some of them don’t. Poor auditor’s qualifications will lead to poor quality of audit reports.
- Scope of the audit is cover only the financial statements over the period that they are auditing; however, the fraud might happen in others period outside the scope.
- Independence and conflict of interest of audit team members can increase the risks of poor audit quality and audit reports. If the conflict of interest is not minimized to the acceptable level as required by ISA 500, then the audit report will not be delivered at the quality that it should be.
Advantages of auditing:
- Quality of financial information is essential for key stakeholders like investors, bankers, BoD, as well as the management team. Audit of financial statements could ensure that the quality of financial information that flows to these group of people are true and fair. And the key decision that they make by using audited financial information will be in the best opinion.
- Compliance with the law of country or territory that the entity is operating in is very important. Have their financial statements audit annually by qualified auditors and then submit to relevance government body could help the entity comply with statutory audit requirement. And avoid any penalty that could significantly affect the entity.
- The auditor will help shareholders to review the financial statements on their behalf. This could reduce the shareholder’s double on the management team. Auditors have better skills than shareholders in this area.
- The audit of financial statements could help improve management’s integrity, especially when the result of the audit proves that the financial statements are true and fair view.
- Auditors have expertise in both internal control and financial reporting. Have an auditor audit on an entity’s financial information could help the management team to access the expertise this hold by the audit firm.
- Improve internal controls: auditors could help to review the accounting system, procedure, people, and process of the entity. It will help the entity to improve its key internal control that could minimize fraud risks and errors.
- Protects Fraud and Error could management could not detect.
- Trust from other organizations: Creditors, banks, and government authority.