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IAASB Staff Issues Q&A Document on Professional Skepticism

Feb 29, 2012 | New York, New York | English

The staff of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) today released Professional Skepticism in an Audit of Financial Statements, a new question-and-answer (Q&A) publication that re-emphasizes to auditors the importance of an attitude of professional skepticism when performing their role.

“The IAASB’s International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) explicitly recognize the fundamental importance of professional skepticism,” states Prof. Arnold Schilder, IAASB Chairman. “Nevertheless, adopting and applying a skeptical mindset is ultimately a personal and professional responsibility to be embraced by every auditor. It is an integral part of the auditor’s skill set, is closely interrelated to the fundamental concepts of auditor independence and professional judgment, and contributes to audit quality. The auditor’s education, training, and experience are therefore critical. Audit firms themselves have an important role to play in cultivating a skeptical mindset in auditors, as do regulators, oversight bodies, and those charged with governance.”

“The public expects high-quality audits. While what that means depends on one’s perspective, a defining feature is the exercise of professional judgment together with a ‘healthy dose’ of professional skepticism by the auditor. A skeptical attitude enhances the auditor’s ability to identify and respond to conditions that may indicate possible misstatement due to error or fraud and critically assess audit evidence,” notes James Gunn, IAASB Technical Director.

The Q&A publication focuses on the requirements and application material in the ISAs and the IAASB’s quality control standard that are of particular relevance to the proper understanding and application of professional skepticism during an audit of financial statements. In addition, answers are provided regarding what audit firms and auditors can do to enhance awareness of the importance of professional skepticism, identify aspects of an audit where professional skepticism may be particularly important, and how professional skepticism can be evidenced.

About the IAASB

The IAASB develops auditing and assurance standards and guidance for use by all professional accountants under a shared standard-setting process involving the Public Interest Oversight Board, which oversees the activities of the IAASB, and the IAASB Consultative Advisory Group, which provides public interest input into the development of the standards and guidance. The structures and processes that support the operations of the IAASB are facilitated by IFAC.

About IFAC
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. IFAC is comprised of 167 members and associates in 127 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.


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