Updated: Dec 17, 2022
Professional Skepticism is influenced by personal behavioural characteristics (i.e., attitudes and ethical values) and the level of competence (i.e., knowledge) of the individual conducting the audit.
These, in turn, are influenced by education, training, and experience.
The Professional Skepticism of the engagement team is also influenced by the behaviour of the firm's leadership and engagement team partners and the firm's culture and business environment.
The ISAs and ISQC 1 include requirements and guidance designed to help create an environment at the firm and engagement level where auditors can develop appropriate Professional Skepticism.
国际审计准则 (ISAs) 和国际质量控制标准第1号 (ISQC 1) 涵盖一些要求和指导，主要是为了帮助在事务所和业务层面间创造一个环境，使审计师能够培养适当的职业怀疑精神。
The firm's leadership and the examples that it sets have a tremendous impact on the culture within the firm. Therefore, the "tone at the top" and the ongoing reinforcement of the necessity of Professional Scepticism on audit engagements are crucial factors that influence the conduct of individuals.
The firm has the opportunity to set expectations for Professional Scepticism and to underline the significance of doing so, for example, when:
Establishes policies and procedures tailored to build an internal culture recognising that quality is crucial in performing engagements.
Promoting a quality-oriented internal culture through clear, consistent and frequent actions and messages from all levels of the firm's management. This can be communicated through various mediums, including but not limited to training seminars, meetings, formal or informal conversations, mission statements, newsletters, or briefing memoranda. Such actions and messages encourage a culture that recognises and rewards high-quality work. They may be incorporated in the firm's internal documentation and training materials as well as in partner and staff appraisal procedures to support and reinforce the firm's view on the importance of quality and how, practically, it is to be achieved.
Establishing policies and procedures to assure the firm that it has sufficient personnel with the necessary competence, capabilities, and commitment to ethical principles. In this regard, fostering an internal culture based on quality can be achieved through adopting policies and processes that address performance, evaluation, compensation, and promotion (including incentive systems) that give adequate recognition and reward to the growth and maintenance of competence.
Creating and implementing internal training and Continuing Professional Education programmes for employees at all levels of the firm. This can be accomplished in various ways, such as through work experience, training while on the job, mentoring from more experienced personnel (for instance, other members of the engagement team), and independence education. It is noted that the continuing competence of firm personnel depends to a significant extent on an appropriate level of Continuing Professional Education and Development.
At the engagement level, the Engagement Partner is accountable for the overall quality of each audit engagement assigned to that partner.
The actions of the engagement partner and appropriate communications to the other members of the engagement team emphasise the importance of quality in performing audit engagements and the significance of audit quality, such as the engagement team's ability to raise concerns without fear of retaliation and the issuance of auditor's reports that are appropriate for the circumstances.
Discussing the susceptibility of the entity's financial statements to a material misstatement by the engagement partner and other key engagement team members is the optimal time to discuss and emphasise with the engagement team the importance of maintaining Professional Scepticism throughout the audit.
This discussion includes the application of the applicable financial reporting framework to the entity's facts and circumstances, with a focus on how and where the financial statements may be susceptible to material misstatement due to fraud, as well as how fraud could occur (setting aside beliefs that the engagement team members may have that management and TCWG are honest and have integrity).
This discussion also provides a basis upon which engagement team members communicate and share new information that may affect risk assessments or the audit procedures performed.
Other opportunities for the engagement partner to set expectations regarding, and to emphasize the importance of, Professional Scepticism include, for example, when taking responsibility for:
The direction, supervision and performance of the audit engagement.
Reviews of work performed. In this regard, the engagement partner, in particular, has much knowledge and experience to impart in helping less experienced team members develop a critical and questioning mind through review of, among other matters, critical areas of judgment and significant risks. Timely reviews also allow significant matters (for example, critical areas of judgment, especially those relating to difficult or contentious matters identified during the course of the engagement) to be resolved on or before the date of the auditor’s report.
The engagement team undertaking appropriate consultation on difficult or contentious matters
Even though activities on the level of the firm and the engagement contribute to an attitude of Professional Scepticism, it is still the responsibility of each auditor to keep up an attitude of Professional Scepticism.
Throughout the entirety of the audit, both professional judgement and Professional Scepticism must be applied.
By keeping a healthy dose of Professional Scepticism throughout the audit, the auditor can lower the likelihood of making errors such as overlooking unusual circumstances, drawing conclusions that are too broad from audit observations, or making inappropriate assumptions when deciding the nature, timing, and scope of audit procedures and evaluating the results of those procedures.
在参与层面，项目负责人 [Engagement Partner] 需对分配给他的每项审计业务的整体质量负责。