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Relevant to ACCA Qualification Papers F8 and P7 and Foundation level Paper FAU
‘The auditor shall design and perform audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances for the purpose of obtaining sufficient appropriate audit evidence.’ (ISA 500)
To obtain audit evidence, the auditor performs one – or a combination – of the following procedures:
? inspection
? observation
? external confirmation
? inquiry
? reperformance
? recalculation
? analytical procedures.
It is mandatory that the auditor should perform risk assessment for the identification and assessment of risks of material misstatement at the financial statement and assertion level, and the risk assessment procedures should include analytical procedures (ISA 315). It is also mandatory that the auditor should perform analytical procedures near the end of the audit that assess whether the financial statements are consistent with the auditor’s understanding of the entity (ISA 520).
Analytical procedures are also commonly used in non-audit and assurance engagements, such as reviews of prospective financial information, and non-audit reviews of historical financial information. While the use of analytical procedures in such engagements is not covered in the ISAs, the principals regarding their use are relevant.
Analytical procedures consist of ‘evaluations of financial information through analysis of plausible relationships among both financial and non-financial data’. They also encompass ‘such investigation as is necessary of identified fluctuations or relationships that are inconsistent with other relevant information or that differ from expected values by a significant amount’ (ISA 520). A basic premise underlying the application of analytical procedures is that plausible relationships among data may reasonably be expected to exist and continue in the absence of conditions to the contrary.
Analytical procedures are used throughout the audit process and are conducted for three primary purposes:
1. Preliminary analytical review – risk assessment (required by ISA 315)
Preliminary analytical reviews are performed to obtain an understanding of the business and its environment (eg financial performance relative to prior years and relevant industry and comparison groups), to help assess the risk of material misstatement in order to determine the nature, timing and extent of audit procedures, ie to help the auditor develop the audit strategy and programme.
2. Substantive analytical procedures
Analytical procedures are used as substantive procedures when the auditor considers that the use of analytical procedures can be more effective or efficient than tests of details in reducing the risk of material misstatements at the assertion level to an acceptably low level.
3. Final analytical review (required by ISA 520)
Analytical procedures are performed as an overall review of the financial statements at the end of the audit to assess whether they are consistent with the auditor’s understanding of the entity. Final analytical procedures are not conducted to obtain additional substantive assurance. If irregularities are found, risk assessment should be performed again to consider any additional audit procedures are necessary.
One of the objectives of ISA 520 is that relevant and reliable audit evidence is obtained when using substantive analytical procedures. The primary purpose of substantive analytical procedures is to obtain assurance, in combination with other audit testing (such as tests of controls and substantive tests of details), with respect to financial statement assertions for one or more audit areas. Substantive analytical procedures are generally more applicable to large volumes of transactions that tend to be more predictable over time.
The application of substantive analytical procedures is based on the expectation that relationships among data exist and continue in the absence of known conditions to the contrary. The presence of these relationships provides audit evidence as to the completeness, accuracy and occurrence of transactions. Due to their nature, substantive analytical procedures can often provide evidence for multiple assertions, identify audit issues that may not be apparent from more detailed work, and direct the auditor’s attention to areas requiring further investigation. Furthermore, the auditor may identify risks or deficiencies in internal control that had not previously been identified, which may cause the auditor to re-evaluate his planned audit approach and require the auditor to obtain more assurance from other substantive testing than originally planned.
To derive the most benefit from substantive analytical procedures, the auditor should perform substantive analytical procedures before other substantive tests because results of substantive analytical procedures often impact the nature and extent of detailed testing. Substantive analytical procedures might direct attention to areas of increased risk, and the assurance obtained from effective substantive analytical procedures will reduce the amount of assurance needed from other tests.

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