Moving Audits From A Traditional To A Risk Based Approach Accounting Essay

Recent old ages saw tonss of fiscal frauds which have led to immense losingss borne by guiltless investors, creditors, employees, and others. Enron provides dramatic illustration of how internal control dislocations and faulty and dishonorable direction and auditing can ensue in misstated fiscal statements that finally do great injury to national economic system. Audit failures meant that the accounting profession is confronted with a crisis of assurance and credibleness. Criticism of the profession is widespread and rough in the altering economic, societal and regulative clime in which the profession at present maps. Audit failures will jeopardize the being of the profession and its development in the long tally.

In this study we have tried to analyse critically Enron in USA as the standard of the assignment. It shows how is climbed dramatically and how it fell within few old ages of clip. We have besides tried to demo the effects to get rid of the company and what the function of managers, hearers, corporate administration and accounting policies.

Background ( Enron )

Enron began in 1985, when it started operations as an interstate grapevine company created from the amalgamation of Houston Natural Gas and Omaha-based InterNorth. Kenneth Lay, the former main executive officer of Houston Natural Gas, became CEO. A twelvemonth subsequently he was named chairman.A

By 1999, the company had moved into new Fieldss, including Enron Online, the company ‘s web site for trading trade goods. It shortly became the largest concern site in the universe. About 90 per cent of Enron ‘s income finally came from trades over Enron Online.A

The company enjoyed dramatic growing with one-year gross hitting $ 100 billion United statess in 2000, doing it the seventh-largest company on the Fortune 500 and the sixth-largest energy company in the universe. The company ‘s stock monetary value peaked at $ 90 US. hypertext transfer protocol: //

Downfall of Enron: A

But by 2001, clefts began to look. In August Jeffrey Skilling, a driving force in Enron ‘s revamp and the company ‘s Chief executive officer of six months, announced his going, and Lay resumed the station of CEO. In October 2001, Enron reported a loss of $ 618 million – its first quarterly loss in four years.A

Chief fiscal officer Andrew Fastow was replaced, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched an probe into investing partnerships led by Fastow. That probe would later demo that a complex web of partnerships was designed to conceal Enron ‘s debt. By late November, the company ‘s stock was down to less than $ 1 US. Investors had lost billions.A

On Dec. 2, 2001, Enron filed for bankruptcy protection in the biggest instance of bankruptcy in the United States up to that point. Approximately 5,600 Enron employees later lost their jobs.A

The following month, the U.S. Justice Department opened its probe of the company ‘s traffics, and Ken Lay quit as president and CEO. Hundreds of charges would finally be laid – and 19 former executives would either plead guilty or be convicted for their portion in what would go known as one of the biggest frauds in American history. Founder Ken Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling were both convicted in May. But Lay died two months subsequently, get awaying what would certainly hold been a drawn-out gaol sentence.

Faulty Financial Reporting

The recent Enron prostration has sent shockwaves all over the fiscal universe and raised serious inquiries sing corporate administration: How could America ‘s 7th largest corporation all of a sudden descend to bankruptcy? What has contributed to its sudden implosion? Presently, there are more than 10 separate commissions look intoing possible incorrect behaviors and illegal activities, such as fraud and insider trading.

Available information suggests that Enron made its money with fume and mirrors. With a set of off-the books, unregulated private partnerships to take on debts, fell losingss and kick off hyperbolic grosss, Enron executives were able to maintain bond-rating bureaus happy. They were able to prolong this shell game through relentless refusal to unwrap to analysts, who questioned where the money came from. Arthur Anderson, the auditing house, turned a unsighted oculus to questionable accounting patterns because they did non desire to lose the moneymaking consulting fees.

However, under mounting force per unit area, Enron ‘s eventual revelation of its exaggeration of net incomes in November 2001 instantly triggered the prostration of the company and its bankruptcy filing on December 2, 2001.

A particular panel of Enron ‘s Board late issued a 217-page study, reprobating Enron ‘s direction for hyperbolic net income studies and failure of controls at every degree. Harmonizing to Eichenwald ( 2002 ) , “ As inadvertence broke down at Enron, the study provinces, a civilization emerged of self-dealing and self-enrichment at the disbursals of stockholders. Accountants and attorneies signed off on flawed and improper determinations every measure of the manner, the reported concluded. ” . [ Leung, P. , Coram, P. , Cooper, B.J. , and Richardson, P 81, 4th edition and hypertext transfer protocol: // ]

Enron used 100s of particular purpose entities to conceal its debts. Particular purpose entities are specific intent to fund or pull off hazard associated with specific assets. By making this, Enron understated its liabilities and overstated its equity, and its net incomes were overstated. Enron disclosed to its stockholders that they applied fudging to downside hazard in its ain illiquid investing utilizing particular purpose entities. By that manner Enron protected itself from the downside hazard.

The causes of audit failure

Internal causes

Audit failure occurs when there is a serious deformation of the fiscal statements that is non reflected in the audit study, and the hearer has made a serious mistake in the behavior of the audit ( Arens, 2002 ) . Audit failure does non happen if the hearer has followed Generally Accepted Auditing Standards, irrespective of the equity and truth of the fiscal statements. A decently done audit does non vouch that serious deformations of the fiscal statements have non occurred. However, a decently done audit does do serious deformations unlikely. Therefore, audit failure can non happen unless there is serious hearer mistake or misjudgment. The nature of this hearer mistake has four systematic causes.

First, the hearer can drop the ball by misusing or misinterpreting GAAS. Such a blooper is unwilled and could be caused by weariness or human mistake.

Second, the hearer can perpetrate fraud by wittingly publishing a more favourable audit study than is warranted. This may happen when the hearer accepts a payoff or bows to client force per unit area or menaces. Third, the hearer can be unduly influenced by holding a direct or indirect fiscal involvement in the client.

Fourth, the hearer can be unduly influenced because of holding some personal relationship with the client beyond what is expected in a normal audit between independent parties.

External causes

In current economic environment, concern hazards result from intensified market competition may coerce the dishonest direction of the entity to perpetrate fiscal fraud. Such hazards may originate from: ( 1 ) Industry developments and attendant potency concern hazards that entity does non hold the forces and expertness to cover with the alterations in the industry ; ( 2 ) New merchandises and services, and attendant potency concern hazards that there is increased merchandise liability ; ( 3 ) Expansion of the concern, and attendant potency concern hazards that the demand has non been accurately estimated ; ( 4 ) Current and prospective funding demands, and attendant potency concern hazards on loss of funding due to the entity ‘s inability to run into demands, etc. Furthermore, hapless corporate administration provides direction chances to overrule controls and commit deceitful fiscal study. Therefore, in order to pull strings the net income and

mislead fiscal statements users ‘ judgement about the entity ‘s public presentation or profitableness, fraud may affect sophisticated and carefully organized strategies designed to hide it.

The countermeasures of audit failure

Under subdivision 307 of the Corporations Act stipulates the overruling rule adopted by the jurisprudence sing the function of the hearers. An hearer who conducts an audit of the fiscal study for a fiscal twelvemonth or half-year must organize an sentiment about whether the fiscal study is in conformity with Corporation Act, including conformity with accounting criterions and demoing a true and just position of the fiscal province of personal businesss of the audited organic structure. As the credibleness of the audit sentiment lies in the independency of the hearers, independency of the cardinal facets of the recent audit reform. The Corporation Act was updated by the Corporate Law Economic Reform Program ( CLERP 9Act ) to reflect a set of commissariats refering hearer ‘s independency. The cardinal statutory commissariats for hearer independency in the Corporation Act are described below:

Part 2G s. 250RA: Members are permitted to supply written inquiries to the hearer within 5 yearss before the AGM and the hearer is required to fix a list of inquiries to the listed company and to go to the AGM.

Part 2M Div 3 s.307C: Hearers must give the managers of unwraping entities a written statement that the demands of hearers ‘ independency commissariats of the Act have non been contravened.

Part 2M.4 Div 6 s.323A: Hearers have the power to obtain information controlled entities and the controlled entities must supply information or other aid to the hearer refering the amalgamate fiscal statements being audited.

Part 2M.4 Div3 US Secret Service. 324CA, 324CB, 324CC: Hearers are required to inform ASIC sing any struggles of involvement or guarantee that such struggles cease within 7 yearss of going aware of the state of affairs. Detailed state of affairss are listed for each class of hearers based on s.324CD.

Part 2M.4 Div 3A s. 324CD: Conflict of involvement state of affairss applicable for the above subdivisions where an hearer or professional member of audit squad becomes incapable of exerting nonsubjective and impartial judgement, with respect to the company, the directors or managers presently or once involved in the company and the hearer.

Part 2M.4 Div 3B US Secret Service. 324CE, 324CF, 324CG: Specific demands for hearer independency applicable to single hearers, audit houses, and audit companies where the hearer must take all sensible stairss to guarantee the audit activity is non continued or inform ASIC within 7 yearss of going aware of the state of affairs it the state of affairs continues.

Part 2M.4 Div 3B s.324CH: Lists the relevant relationships which may be the topic of dispute of US Secret Service. 324CE, 324CF and 324CG. These relevant relationships apply to the single hearer, a professional member of the audit squad carry oning the audit of the audited organic structure or an immediate household member of a professional member of the audit squad.

Part 2M.4 Div 3B US Secret Service. 324CI, 324CJ: Particular regulations for retiring spouses of audit houses and retiring managers of audit companies and particular regulations for retiring professional member of the audit squad carry oning the audit of the audited organic structure or an immediate household member of a professional member of the audit squad. [ Leung, P. , Coram, P. , Cooper, B.J. , and Richardson, P 81, 4th edition ]

Above mentioned are the statuotory Torahs prescribed by the CLERP 9 Act but is besides pressing to take steps to get by with the terrible state of affairs of audit failures. Some are suggested as follows.

Maintain independency

The value of scrutinizing depends to a great extent on the populace ‘s perceptual experience of the independency of hearers. It is non surprising that independency is the first topic addressed in the regulations of professional behavior. Independence is a important construct that sets hearers apart from the accounting profession, as their nucleus mission is to attest the public studies that describe companies ‘ fiscal position. By showing an sentiment, the independent hearer assumes a public responsibility. The map of “ public watchdog ” demands that the hearer subordinates duty

towards the client in order to keep complete fidelity to the public trust.

2. Exercise professional incredulity

An attitude of professional incredulity means the hearer makes an appraisal, with a oppugning head, ofthe cogency of audit grounds obtained and is watchful to scrutinize grounds that contradicts or brings into inquiry the dependability of paperss and information obtained from direction and those charged with administration. Hearers are frequently apt when they are presented with information bespeaking a job that they fail to acknowledge. Hearers need to endeavor to keep a healthy degree of incredulity, one that keeps them alarm to possible misstatements, so that they can acknowledge misstatements whey they exist. Hearers should be after and execute an audit with an attitude of professional incredulity acknowledging that fortunes may be that cause the fiscal statements to be materially misstated.

3. Traveling audits from a traditional to a risk-based attack

Risk-based audit represents the developing tendency of modern audit. It requires that the hearer must obtain a sufficient apprehension of the entity and its environment, including its internal control, to place, measure the hazard of material misstatement of the fiscal statements whether due to error or fraud, and to plan the nature, timing, and extent of farther audit processs. A risk-based audit allows CPAs to concentrate audit resources ( dollars and people ) on the highest hazard countries. Resources are directed to countries where controls are weakest and audit processs are tailored to the highest hazard countries, thereby seting the audit range. Therefore, risk-based audit is more

cost-efficient. The related processs may include enquiries of direction and others within the entity, analytical processs, observation and review. The hearer ‘s apprehension of the entity and its environment consists of an apprehension of the undermentioned facets: ( 1 ) Industry, regulative, and other external factors ; ( 2 ) Nature of the entity ; ( 3 ) Aims and schemes and the related concern hazards that may ensue in a material misstatement of the fiscal statements ; ( 4 ) Measurement and reappraisal of the entity ‘s fiscal public presentation ; ( 5 ) Internal control, which includes the choice and application of accounting policies.

4. Enhance audit quality control

Quality control policies and processs should be implemented at both the degree of the audit house and on single audits. The accounting house should set up a system of quality control designed to supply it with sensible confidence that the accounting house and its forces comply with regulative and legal demands, the Code of Ethics for CPAs, criterions on auditing, etc. , and that studies issued by the accounting house and engagement spouses are appropriate in the fortunes. The accounting house ‘s system of quality control should include constabularies and processs turn toing each of the undermentioned elements: ( 1 ) Leadership duties for quality control within the accounting house ; ( 2 ) Ethical demands ; ( 3 ) Credence and continuation of client relationships and specific battles ; ( 4 ) Human resources ; ( 5 ) Battle public presentation ; ( 6 ) Engagement certification ; ( 7 ) Monitoring.

Quality control policies and processs should be implemented at both the degree of the audit house and on single audits.

5. Better audit commissions

Corporate administration is one of the cardinal factors that determine the wellness of the internal control. As one of the of import constituents of corporate administration, audit commission plays a really of import function in cut downing the riskof fiscal fraud. It is necessary that hearers report to and are overseen by a company ‘s audit commission. This audit commission must O.K. all audit and non-audit services, must have all new accounting and scrutinizing information from the hearer, and must function as the official line of communicating between the hearer and the client company.

Members of the audit commission are independent members of the board of managers of the company being audited, and at least one board member must be a “ fiscal expert ” .

6 Strengthen supervising over the CPA profession

The administrative supervising conducted by the competent sections over the CPA profession should get down from vouching the healthy development of the CPA profession, and purpose at reconstructing the assurance of the public towards the CPA profession. The sections should besides, by enforcing aggravated penalties on a few Acts of the Apostless of go againsting Torahs or regulations, protect most of the honest and observant certified public comptrollers and accounting houses, rectify and modulate the accounting order, every bit good as promote and warrant the development of the CPA profession.

Finally, Bettering the control construction: A The solution begins with senior corporate executives and corporate boards developing a better apprehension of and grasp for internal controls. Controls should be viewed in a positive visible radiation, as support designed to assist a company accomplish its ends and aims, non as an burdensome demand unrelated to the company ‘s concern. A good internal control construction starts with the tone at the top-the board and senior direction. They must do controls a cardinal portion of the company civilization and communicate that civilization to everyone in the remainder of the organisation. In fact, failure to put an appropriate tone at the top may hold been Kenneth Lay ‘s and the Enron board ‘s major weakness. A company without active board and direction involvement and support, on a regular basis communicated to the remainder of the organisation, is improbable to hold an equal internal control construction.


The fortunes in which companies operate have been more ambitious and more than of all time, contending against fiscal frauds is of great importance to CPA profession. This paper analyses the causes of audit failure from both the external and internal facets which chiefly are hapless corporate administration and deficiency of independency of the CPAs. This paper gives suggestions on how to get by with audit failure. It is critical For CPAs to keep independency, professional incredulity. The CPA profession should execute the risk-based audit and better audit processs. Further more, it is rather necessary to better audit quality control, audit commission and strengthen supervising over the CPA profession.

By and large, corporate civilization refers to the prevailing implicit values, attitudes and ways of making things in a company. It frequently reflects the personality, doctrine and the ethnic-cultural background of the laminitis or the leader. Corporate civilization dictates how the company is run and how people are promoted.