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1. Professional Skepticism In An Audit Of Financial Statements

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

The auditing practice requires a high level of Professional Skepticism at all times.


In the same way that a Jedi from Star Wars is always working to improve his or her understanding of the "force," an auditor is always working to improve his or her capacity to exercise Professional Skepticism.

When carrying out an assurance engagement, having a healthy dose of Professional Skepticism lays the groundwork for the decision-making process.

就像《星球大战》中的绝地武士不断努力磨练自己对 "力量 "的理解一样,审计师也在不断提高自己运用职业怀疑论的能力。


A brief definition of Professional Skepticism

In the IAASB's Handbook of International Quality Control, Auditing, Review, Other Assurance, and Related Services Pronouncements, the glossary of words includes the following definition of the term "Professional Skepticism":

“an attitude that includes a questioning mind, being alert to conditions which may indicate possible misstatement due to error or fraud, and a critical assessment of audit evidence.

在国际审计与鉴证准则理事会(The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board — IAASB) 的《国际质量控制、审计、审阅、其他鉴证及相关服务公告》手册中,词汇表对 "职业怀疑"诠释如下:-

"要有质疑及对审计证据批判性的态度。职业怀疑态度要求不断质疑所获得的信息及审计证据是否显示会存在舞弊性的重大错报 [material misstatement]"

In line with the above definition, it is easy to see that Professional Skepticism is a skill that auditors should continually strive to build and improve, however, this skill is not easily assessable.

Moreover, it cannot be developed in a single day. Specifically, it is a skill that takes time to acquire with experience. Skepticism in the professional world is mostly seen as thinking rather than an attitude.

Auditors need to be Professionally Skeptical when performing their tasks, which drives their behaviour to adopt a questioning attitude when analyzing audit materials and drawing conclusions.

When viewed in this light, the core ethical principles of objectivity and auditor independence are inextricably tied to the Professional Skepticism that underpins them. 





Auditor's Independence

The Auditor's Independence enhances their capacity to act with integrity, be objective, and maintain an attitude of Professional Skepticism.

Professional Skepticism also includes being alert to, for example, audit evidence that contradicts other audit evidence obtained, or information that brings into question the reliability of documents or responses to inquiries to be used as audit evidence.

In addition, it includes being alert to conditions that may indicate possible fraud and circumstances that suggest the need for audit procedures in addition to those required by the ISAs.





  • 可能存在的舞弊;以及

  • 出现除了国际审计准则 [ISAs] 规定的审计要求,还需要采取更深入的审计程序的情况

Professional Skepticism also includes a Critical Assessment of audit evidence, which comprises both information that supports and corroborates management’s assertions, and any information that contradicts such assertions.

In this context, applying Professional Skepticism means questioning and considering the sufficiency and appropriateness of audit evidence obtained in light of the circumstances.

For instance, this may be the case when fraud risk factors are present and a single document of a type that is susceptible to fraud is the only supporting evidence for a material financial statements amount. In this scenario, the auditor should apply Professional Skepticism

When there is reason to suspect the authenticity of the findings being audited or when there are indications that fraud may have taken place, the ISAs mandate that the auditor conducts an additional investigation and determine what modifications or additions to the auditing procedures are required to resolve the issue.

职业怀疑还包括对审计证据的批判性评估 [Critical Assessment],其中包括支持和作证管理层认定 [Assertions],以及任何与此类认定相矛盾的信息。




At the same time, it is not acceptable for the auditor to omit an audit procedure for which there is no alternative or to be content with audit evidence that is less convincing simply because the auditing process is difficult, time-consuming, or costly.

Finally, it is essential to note that a subjective personal belief in the honesty and integrity of management and those charged with governance (TCWG) does not relieve the auditor from maintaining Professional Skepticism or accepting less than persuasive audit evidence when reasonable assurance is obtained.



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