Independent audit is an evaluation of books of accounts and other underlying documents by an independent third party in order to determine the level of compliance in the preparation of the financial statements.
The question however is; are auditors really independent? An independent audit cannot be conducted with first of all ensuring the auditors’ independence. Auditors’ independence is a serious issue in auditing that is facing different storms and hard times. So many factors are responsible for the lack of auditors’ independence; some of them are listed below;
FACTORS THREATENING AUDITORS’ INDEPENDENCE
Financial constraints: auditors submit themselves to the wimps and caprices of their clients just to ease financial constraint. Auditors’ independence will be enhanced if auditors are relieved of financial constraints.
Reduced number of credible accounting firms: the reduced number of accounting firms has made it difficult for companies to have choice in the selection of firms that will render services.
Relationship: auditors can never be independent when they are auditing their relatives or somebody related to them.
Political view: an auditor that has political view can not be independent in auditing. For auditors to be independent, they must stay clear off all forms of politics.
Religious beliefs: religion and auditing cannot go hand in hand. As an auditor, you must remove religious sentiment.
Affection: you cannot be objective in auditing people you have affection for.
Incentives: any auditor that collects any form of incentive cannot perform an independent audit. Independent audit is something that you must do with clean hands. If your hands are soiled with incentives, forget about carrying out an independent audit.
Time constraints: in the bid to meet up with deadlines, auditors seek assistance from their clients and in the process establish a working relationship. Though, there should a level of relationship between the auditor and the auditee, but limits must be observed.
Until measures are put in place to effectively check the above problems, auditors’ independence will still be an illusion. Auditors and auditing bodies should be more proactive in handling auditors’ independence issues. The lack of auditors’ independence is one of the major causes of historical corporate failures like the one experienced in Enron, WorldCom and the rest of them.
Above all, independent audit can only be achieved if auditors can simply talk to their conscience and be honest for once in their dealings. I am among those that believe that auditors of today are well equipped to tackle any fraudulent situation that they may face.