Auditing the auditors in an information overload era

So much has been said about expectation gap and how a lot of auditors use it as a reason for their lack of; competence, care, professionalism and due diligence. Expectation is a term used to represent the gap between what the public expects from the auditors and what auditors actually do (auditors duty is to express professional opinion, while the public expects auditors to discover fraud).

The regulatory bodies are doing their best to make sure that the value of information audited by auditors still remains intact, after all, auditing is all about rendering of credibility to a piece of information (financial statement in the context of accounting). A lot of auditing and accounting regulatory bodies spring up everyday in every part of the world. Auditing and accounting standards constantly get revised.

I am writing this article to bring to your notice that more things need to be done in the areas of monitoring the works of professional accountants who engage in auditing and other information professionals that are also in the field of auditing. It is not just enough to have piles of auditing standards and rules everywhere, more needs to be done to enforce the actual implementation of these standards, guidelines, policies and procedures. Auditors themselves need to be audited for a level of sanity to be achieved in the field of auditing and accounting.

This is no doubt a fact that no one can ever dispute. The reason for this submission is that auditors’ independence which is one of the principal pillars of conducting a reasonably fair audit has been seriously impaired. The problem is; how do you audit the auditors to ensure that their independence is not compromised?

Apart from the impairment of auditors’ independence, information overload is another problem that auditors have to battle with in order to pick the most relevant information for their audit work. Having knowledge of accounting information system SWOT analysis will be an indispensable tool in overcoming this problem.

The question raised above is the subject matter of this article. And below are some useful suggestions that I have to make in this regard.

  • Peer review
  • Close monitoring of auditors independence
  • Enforcing rotational auditing
  • Morale persuasion
  • Setting up panels that will critically look into public criticism of any auditing firm

Look at both the past and recent accounting scandals, you will discover that they all one thing in common; the auditors’ independence were seriously compromised in all these cases. I strongly believe that setting laws and standards alone cannot take us far in this direction but auditing the auditors is a vibrant option and a clear way out of the mess that is beclouding auditing, future of auditing and accounting as a whole.