A predecessor auditor is defined as an auditor who has reported on the most recent financial statements or was engaged to perform but was not able to complete the audit statements as of late.
Alternatively, he can also be the auditor who was initially appointed, but he ultimately resigned or terminated because of any reason. Therefore, a predecessor auditor can be broadly categorized into the following categories:
- The auditor who had been appointed by the organization to conduct the audit of the previous financial statements. He is the auditor who reported his opinion on the latest financial statements that were published by the company.
- The auditor who had been appointed by the organization to conduct the audit of the financial statement, but was unable to conduct the audit because:
- Either he was unable to complete the audit, because of insufficient evidence or any other reason because of which he refused to audit.
- Or, the auditor was terminated because of some underlying reason between the client and the auditor.
Communication between the Predecessor Auditor and Successor Auditor
Regardless of the fact that the predecessor auditor is the auditor who had previously conducted an audit of the financial statement in the previous year (or years), and has no connection with the audit of the current financial year, yet they can still be utilized for various purposes.
During the process of audit, the new auditor might have to rely on the working papers of the auditors from the previous years, or they might need to ask for certain information from the auditors based on which they could then gather substantial evidence on a particular topic.
Therefore, they might need the help and assistance of a predecessor auditor to help them on certain matters during the audit procedure.
In this regard, it becomes the responsibility of the predecessor auditor to help and cooperate with the new audit team to carry out the task with relative ease and transparency.
In this regard, it is also important for predecessor auditors to understand that they need to maintain the confidentiality of their previous client, and are not supposed to disclose information to any external party, even after the engagement period ends.
This is also part of the agreement, and under professional and ethical guidelines, they are liable to keep confidentiality in this regard about their former engaging party.
Therefore, it can be seen that predecessor auditor tends to play a role in helping the new auditor settle down with the new client. As a colleague and an auditor, it tends to be his responsibility to help him settle down with the new client, and understand the underlying mechanics.
As a result, the relationship between the predecessor and a successor auditor is ideally framed to be a collaborative one, as opposed to being competitive.
Lastly, it should also be noted the predecessor auditor is not always removed from the task of the audit because of his inability to conduct the audit, or the fact that he got terminated. Most companies are obliged under law to change their external auditors over the period of time (mostly 4-5 years), as a result of which contracts tend to expire.