What is Audit and Inherent Limitation of Audit
Audit: The practitioner examines the subject matter made available by the responsible party, matches it to the suitable criteria using evidence and reports to the intended users. (Audit also have inherent limitation) see below.
An audit is an Independent Examination of Financial Statements.
Company is an artificial legal personality which owns by the shareholders, And Run by Board of Directors, The real Owners of the company are shareholders, Shareholders delegate their authority to the directors, So they can run the company on the behalf of shareholders.
Here Shareholders are the Principle owners and BOD are the agents. This also called the agency relationship. The Directors are the caretaker of Shareholder’s investment, Funds, Assets Everything in Company.
Now Directors Duty to Run the Company in the Best interest of shareholders, Maximising the shareholders wealth, have to establish the controls, Establishing the accounting system, Maintaining the accounting Record, Preparation of Financial Statements, Publishing Financial Statements, Conducting AGMs (Annual general meetings) etc etc For the sake of their Principle Owners (Shareholders).
In the end BOD’s Publish Financial Statement. These Financial statements actually announcing the performance Or work done by directors,
Now think Directors are performing the task all over the year and now announcing their results, Now shareholders how can relay on these Financial statements, Made by the Directors about their performance,
Now shareholders want an INDEPENDENT competent person, who is (Unbiased, Neutrality, qualified, Impartial). So they can give an Independent Opinion On FINANCIAL STATEMENTS. This called Audit (Audit is Independent Examination of Financial Statement.)
Highlight: Audit is not a guarantee, Audit is Independent Examination of Financial Statement And at the end, Auditor gives Independent Opinion on Financial Statements Weathers its Presents TRUE and FAIR view or not in all material aspects.
Inherent Limitation of Audit
Why Auditor cannot give an absolute opinion
1. Sampling –For auditors, it is not practical to test 100% of transactions and so they have to apply the sampling method in selecting balances/transactions to test. Therefore, there can be an error in an item not selected for testing by the auditor.
2. Subjectivity – financial statements include judgmental and subjective areas and therefore the auditor is required to use their judgment in assessing whether the financial statements are true and fair.
3. Inherent limitations of internal control systems – an internal control system is operated by people and hence is liable to human error. As well, there is the possibility of controls override by management and of collusion and fraud. It is not possible to remove all of these inherent limitations and as the auditor relies on the internal control systems, this can reduce the usefulness of the audit.
4. Evidence is not conclusive But persuasive: therefore opinion depends on audit evidence collected by Auditors; however, this evidence can identify possible issues affecting the audit opinion, evidence involves estimates and judgments and hence does not give an absolute conclusion.
5. Even if everything reported on was examined and found to be satisfactory, there may be other items which should have been included– the completeness problem.
6. Auditors plan their work to detect material errors and frauds only – so small frauds (or large frauds split into many small amounts) may go unnoticed.
an external audit has a number of other issues which reduce its usefulness
1. Audit report format – the format of the opinion is determined by International Standards on Auditing. However, the terminology used is not usually understandable by non-accountants. This means that users of Financial Statements may not actually understand the audit opinion given.
2. Historic information – the audit report is often issued sometime after the year-end, and so the financial information can be quite different from the current position. In the current circumstance marketplace where companies’ financial positions can change quite quickly, the audit opinion may no longer be relevant as it is outdated.
3. Auditors need to understand their clients in great depth if they are to understand how fraud could be carried out and hidden. However, auditors cannot become too close to their clients or their independence will be called into question.
4. Where auditors spot errors or fraud, their primary legal responsibility is to report this to management. Any external reporting is hampered by rules on confidentiality.
See Also: Analytical Procedures