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The History of Auditing

Updated: Jul 24

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.


审计行业已经存在了几百年,在历史上,它关注的是政府活动的会计,以及审查税收人员所做的工作。


今天,商家们必须保持会计记录以遵守各种立法;然而,在审计的早期,保持和维护会计记录的主要目的是为了发现欺诈活动。

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.


17世纪中期至18世纪中期,社会对审计师的需求有所增加,因为在那一时期,越来越多的责任从企业拥有者转移到管理者身上,因此需要独立于管理层的审计师,不仅要警惕财务报表本身的错误,还要警惕会计记录的错误。


17世纪初,抽样技术被引入,因为审计师检查一个会计期间的所有交易在经济上显然是不可行的。


抽样是专门设计的,以便审计师选择构成各种余额的交易样本,从而确保特定审计领域没有错报。在当今的现代审计行业中,抽样的概念仍然非常普遍。



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).



随着时间的推移,审计师的职责已逐渐演变为就财务报表的真实性和公允性发表意见,而发现欺诈和错误在涉及审计目标方面已成为次要角色。


预防和发现舞弊的责任变成了管理层的责任,因此,审计师的工作不应该主要关注舞弊的发现,而审计师的程序应该以这样一种方式进行规划,即重大舞弊可以被检测到(尽管今天仍然存在审计程序充分的情况,但可能仍未发现重大欺诈)。







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).

这一观点由大法官洛佩兹在金斯敦棉纺厂案(1896 年)中正式确立。


洛佩兹大法官说,审计师在实体中的角色应该是“看门狗”而不是“猎犬”。


洛佩兹大法官说:

"审计员有责任在他必须执行的工作中承担谨慎的审计员会使用的合理技能、小心和谨慎。至于什么是合理的技能、小心和谨慎,则必须取决于特定情况而定。审计员没有必要成为一名侦探,或者如前所述,以怀疑的态度对待他的工作,或者得出认为有问题的结论。他其实是看门狗,而不是猎犬。他有理由相信公司被公司信任的受聘雇员。他有权假定他们是诚实的并依赖他们的陈述,前提是他采取了合理的谨慎"- 金斯顿棉纺厂和洛佩兹法官案(1896年)。

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.


在这种情况下,Lopez 勋爵认为,审计师需要以合理的谨慎和技能来履行职责,使他们的工作有机会发现重大错报,无论是由欺诈和/或错误造成。


这一观点在今天仍然适用,因为《国际审计准则》要求审计师保持一定程度的职业怀疑态度,对管理层的假设提出质疑,并在采用审计程序之前,认为财务报表会因欺诈和/或错误而被错报。


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.


多年来,审计行业一直因未能处理导致一些知名公司倒闭的问题而受到批评。特别是安然公司,由于操纵财务报表和误导股东(其中一些人由于公司的倒闭而失去了全部养老金)而带来了灾难性的影响。


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。


正因为如此,监管机构已经开始对审计公司进行调查,以确定他们在发现潜在问题时怎么会如此疏忽大意。



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