Updated: Oct 17, 2022
The profession of auditing has been around for a significant amount of time. It has traditionally been concerned with accounting for government activities and examining the work done by tax collectors.
Today, accounting records are required to be kept to comply with various pieces of legislation; however, in the past, this was not the case.
In the early years of auditing, the keeping and preserving of accounting records were mainly done to discover fraudulent behaviour.
From the middle of the 1700s to the middle of the 1800s, there was an increase in the demand for auditors. This was because, during that time, more responsibility was transferred from business owners to managers. As a result, auditors independent of management were required not only to be on the lookout for errors within the financial statements themselves but also for errors within the accounting records.
It became apparent in the early 1700s that it was not economically viable for an auditor to analyse all of the transactions that had taken place during an accounting period. As a result, sampling procedures were developed in response to this reality. Audit sampling was developed so that auditors could select a sample of transactions that make up various balances and, as a result, acquire confidence that a particular audit area was free from misstatements. In today's modern auditing profession, the concept of sampling is still very much alive.
As more time passed, it became abundantly clear that the role of the auditor had developed into that of providing an opinion on the truth and fairness of the financial statements and that the detection of fraud and error had taken on a subordinate role as far as the objective of an audit was concerned.
This was made clear by the fact that the auditor's role had evolved into providing an opinion on the truth and fairness of the financial statements. As a result of management taking on the responsibility for both the prevention and detection of fraud, it became clear that the auditor's work should no longer be primarily focused on detecting fraud; instead, the auditor's procedures should be planned in such a way that a material fraud can be discovered (although it is still the case today that audit procedures are rendered adequate, a material fraud may still not be discovered).
In Kingston Cotton Mill, Lord Justice Lopez gave this viewpoint its official stamp of approval (1896).
According to Lord Justice Lopez, the auditor's function in an organisation should be more like that of a 'watchdog' than a 'bloodhound.'
According to Lord Justice Lopez,
"It is the duty of an auditor to bring to bear on the work he has to perform that skill, care and caution which a reasonably careful, cautious auditor would use. What is a reasonable skill, care and caution must depend on the particular circumstances of each case. An auditor is not bound to be a detective, or, as was said approach his work with suspicion, or with a foregone conclusion that there is something wrong. He is a watchdog, not a bloodhound. He is justified in believing tried servants of the company in whom confidence is placed by the company. He is entitled to assume that they are honest and rely upon their representations, provided he takes reasonable care" — Kingston Cotton Mill and the Lord Justice Lopez case (1896).
In this case, Lord Lopez believed that the auditor needs to do their duties with reasonable care and skill for their work to have a chance of detecting material misstatements, whether caused by fraud and/or error.
This view is still held today even though the ISAs require auditors to maintain a certain degree of professional scepticism by challenging management's assumptions and assuming that the financial statements will be misstated by fraud and/or error before audit procedures are applied.
The auditing profession has been under fire over the years for its alleged inability to address issues that contributed to the demise of several well-known companies. This failure prompted criticism in the first place.
This was especially the case with Enron, which saw a disastrous effect due to the manipulation of the company's financial statements and the deception of shareholders (many of whom saw their full pensions evaporate as a direct result of the company's collapse).
As Enron's auditor, the 'Big 5' accounting firm Arthur Andersen was brought to its knees by the Enron scandal and ultimately went out of business.
在安然事件中，"五大 "会计师事务所安达信（Arthur Andersen）作为安然公司的审计师，也随之消失在历史中。
The auditing profession was blamed for allegedly failing to challenge banks on their practices during the economic crisis that began around 2007, particularly regarding so-called "toxic assets" and assumptions used in fair value accounting and estimates.
Because of this, regulatory bodies have begun looking into auditing firms to determine how they could have been so negligent in identifying potential problems.
始于 2007 年左右的经济危机还导致审计行业被指责未能对银行的做法提出质疑，尤其是在涉及“有毒资产”以及公允价值会计和估计中使用的假设方面。