Q.1 Critically evaluate the qualities of an Auditor in the wake of recent scams Ans:- What should be the qualities of Internal Audit Personnel? There is no universal answer to this question. We can only generalize about the qualities of internal Audit Personnel. It has been observed that internal auditors and independent auditors often belong to the same professional organization and are subject to the same professional regulations. Hence apart from professional qualification and experiences, the qualities of audit personnel should be same. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has issued “SA-220-Quality Control for Audit Work” with an objective to establish standards on quality control as to the policies and procedures regarding of an audit firm for audit work generally, and procedures regarding the work delegated to assistants on an individual audit. The standard is equally applicable to an internal audit department also. The head of internal audit department should regularly review the quality of audit work based on the standard mentioned below. Important extract of SA 220 are given below.
a) “The Auditor” means the person with final responsibility for the audit. b) “Audit Firm” mean either the partners of a firm providing audit services or sole practitioner providing audit services. c) “Personnel” means all partners and professionals staff engaged in the audit practice of the firm. d) “Assistant” means personnel involved in an individual audit other than the auditor.
1. The audit firm should implement quality control policies and procedures designed to ensure that all audits are conducted in accordance with the standards on auditing. 2. The objectives of the quality control policies to be adopted by an audit firm will ordinarily incorporate the following: a) Professional requirements: Personnel in the firm are to adhere to the principles of independence, integrity, objectivity, confidentiality and professional behavior. b) Skills and competence: The firm is to be staffed by personnel who have attained and maintain the technical standards and professional competence required to enable them to fulfill their responsibilities with due care. c) Assignment: Audit work is to be assigned to personnel who have the degree of technical training and proficiency required in the circumstances.
d) Delegation: There is to be sufficient direction, supervision and review of work at all levels to provide reasonable assurance that the work performed meets appropriate standards of quality. e) Consultation: Whenever necessary, consultation within or outside the firm is to occur with those who have appropriate expertise. f) Monitoring: The continued adequacy and operational effectiveness of quality control policies and procedures is to be monitored. 3. The firm’s general quality control policies and procedures should be communicated to its personnel in a manner that provides reasonable assurance that the policies and procedures are understood and implemented.
4. The auditor should implement those quality control procedures which are, in the context of the policies and procedures of the firm, appropriate to the individual audit. 5. The auditor, and assistants with supervisory responsibilities, will consider the professional competence of assistants performing work delegated to them when deciding the extent of direction, supervision and review, appropriate for each assistant. 6. Any delegation of work to assistants would be in a manner that provides reasonable assurance that such work will be performed with due care by persons having the degree of professional competence required in the circumstances.
7. Assistants to whom work is delegated need appropriate direction. Direction involves informing assistants of their responsibilities and the objectives of the procedures they are to perform. It also involves informing of matters, such as the nature of the entity’s business and possible accounting or auditing problems that may affect the nature, timing and extent of audit procedures with which they are involved. 8. Audit programme is an important tool for the communications of audit directions. Time budgets and the overall audit plans also helpful in communicating audit directions.
9. Supervision is closely related to both direction and reviews and may involve elements of both. 10. Personnel carrying out supervisory responsibilities perform the following functions during the audit: a) Monitor the progress of the audit to consider whether:
i) Assistants have the necessary skills and competence to carry out their assigned tasks; ii) Assistants understand the audit directions; and iii) The work being carried out in accordance with the overall audit plan and the audit programme. b) Become informed of and address significant accounting and auditing questions raised during the audit, by assessing their significance and modifying the overall audit plan and the audit programme as appropriate; and c) Resolve any differences of professional judgment between personnel and consider the level of consultation that is appropriate. Review
11. The work performed by each assistant needs to be reviewed by personnel of at least equal competence to consider whether: a) The work has been performed in accordance with the audit programme; b) The work performed and the results obtained have been adequately documented; c) All significant audit matters have been resolved or are reflected in audit conclusions; d) The objectives of the audit procedures have been achieved; e) The conclusions expressed are consistent with the results of the work performed and support the audit opinion. 12. The following need to be reviewed on a timely basis:
a) Overall audit plan and the audit programme; b) Assessment of inherent and control risks including the results of tests of control and the modifications, if any, made to the overall audit plan and the audit programme as a result of tests of control; c) Documentation of the audit evidence obtained from substantive procedures and the conclusion drawn there from, including the results of consultations; and d) Financial statements, proposed adjustments in financial statements arising out of the auditor’s examination, and the auditors’ proposed observations/report.
The personnel qualities required of the internal audit personnel can be summarized as follows: 1. They should possess required qualifications, training, experience and competence. 2. They should have a continuing awareness of development in the field of accounting and auditing especially internal auditing. 3. They should perform their duties with due professional care, paying due attention to the role assigned to them by the management. 4. They should maintain their professional independence.
5. They should be completely impartial and unbiased in their reporting. 6. They should possess highest quality of ethics and integrity. Q.2 What is social audit? Is social audit taken seriously by the corporate world? Give examples of corporates undertaking social audit. Ans:- The social audit is also called social responsibility audit. A business organization exists in society. Hence, it owes certain responsibilities toward society at large. As Lord Denning has observed: “………… the directors of a great company should owe a duty to those who are employed by the company to see that their conditions of service are proper. They should owe a duty to the customers, to the people to whom the goods are supplied, a public duty perhaps, not to expect excessive prices. They should owe a duty also to the community in which they live, not to make the place of production hideous or a nuisance to thos
MF0013 [Internal Audit and Control] Set1 Q2
Q.2 What is social audit? Is social audit taken seriously by the corporate world? Give examples of corporate undertaking social audit.
The social audit is also called social responsibility audit. A business organization exists in society. Hence, it owes certain responsibilities
toward society at large.
As Lord Denning has observed:
The directors of a great company should owe a duty to those who are employed by the company to see that their conditions of service are proper. They should owe a duty to the customers, to the people to whom the goods are supplied, a public duty perhaps, not to expect excessive prices. They should owe a duty also to the community in which they live, not to make the place of production hideous or a nuisance to those who live around.”
Social audit is mainly concerned with social accounting. It may be noted that social accounting is still in early stage and so social audit also.
Social audit also called Social Responsibility Audit is mainly concerned with social accounting. A continuous audit is basically a perpetual audit, where auditors and his staff constantly engaged in checking the accounts throughout the year. Annual audit is done at the end of the financial year when finalization of accounts has been completed and books of accounts closed. A Balance Sheet audit is mainly concerned with the verifications of items appearing in the Balance Sheet such as share capital, reserve and surplus, current liabilities, fixed assets, current assets, investments etc in detail.
Importance of the Social Policy:
The phenomenal growth of Socially Responsible Funds (now 20% of funds invested in the US), the growing difficulty to attract qualified employees, and the rise of non-governmental organizations able to sue or boycott unethical businesses, demonstrate the vital importance for any business of a well designed Social Policy.
The Ethics Policies will attract long-term investors, increase market shares for the ethical product, strengthen partnerships, and make the employees proud. The Labor Policies will attract and keep a qualified workforce, and increase productivity, while opening new markets (ethnic minority customers are sensitive to the anti-discrimination policies in the work place).
The Environmental Policies will attract customers interested in the protection of the environment, and investors who fear the risks linked to bad environmental practices, while sometimes reducing the costs with cost-effective modifications of production processes. As for most other components of the Social Policy, serious Environmental Policies will attract Socially Responsible Funds and a qualified workforce (nobody likes polluters!).
The Human Rights Policies, also, will attract Socially Responsible Funds and a qualified workforce. Its most important role, however, is defensive: to prevent boycotts or campaigns of protest that could seriously tarnish the reputation of the company accused of practicing (or being an accomplice of) human rights abuses, and the resulting falling stock prices, loss of market shares, and low-moral work force.
The Community Policies will not only create roots in a local base for the company, it will also increase the productivity of the work force involved in the projects (by developing their leadership and customerservice skills, building pride and loyalty with the feeling of being useful).
The Society (or Extra-Community) Policies boost not only the products linked with the policy but also the image of the company. Cause Related Marketing is extremely appreciated by customers because it makes them feel good (allowing them to support charities without spending their time or money), as long as the charities are well chosen and the percentage is not too small (or the ceiling too low).
The Compliance Policies are part of the Social Policy for two reasons. First, by complying with the law, the co. demonstrates it is socially responsible. More importantly, Compliances Policies often go beyond the legal requirements, in order to show concerns for social matters (health, labor, environment, etc.). In many cases, companies build their social image by doing only slightly more than what is required by the law.
Creation of a Social Policy:
Most companies (if not all) already have elements of Social Policy. Often, these are independent pieces of regulation and practices. Most of the time, they are not part of a unique strategy, they are not managed by powerful senior executives, they are not reviewed before any business decisions are made, and they are not used in ways that would produce their full benefits.
The first step is to have an Independent Social Audit, either Defensive (to prevent lawsuits and boycotts), or Productive (to increase productivity, market shares and long term investment). The audit will identify the stakeholders; clarify the components of a Social Policy that would address the concerns of these stakeholders at either the Defensive or Productive level, or make recommendations on the necessary measures to build the Social Policy.
The company must be totally involved in the Audit. The Independent Social Audit is neither an inspection (for which the company would dissimulate important pieces) nor is it a situation where the Auditor brings his “one size fits all” solutions. The Auditor is only the coach of a team, composed of senior executives of the company who are working at gathering the information and finding solutions. The Auditor provides the directions, merges the information to create a whole picture of the social situation, and gives advice on the method used by the company to build its Social Policy and on its different aspects. Ultimately, it is the leadership of a company who builds its Social Policy, and then decides on the best way to run the policy (for instance, nomination of a person or creation of a department dedicated to Social Policy issues).
Scope of a Social Audit
The identification of the stakeholders is generally the first task of an audit. However, a Social Auditor does not study each group of stakeholders separately. Stakeholders have to be considered as a whole, because their concerns are not limited to the defense of their immediate interest. As a result, the Social Auditor will work on the components of a company’s Social Policy (Ethics, Labor, Environmental, Community, Human Rights, etc.), and for each subject, the Social Auditor will analyze the expectations of all stakeholders.
The scope of the audit generally includes the following policies: Ethics: values the company vows to respect. Policies include the pledge not to participate in (nor engage in business with people involved in) a series of activities that are deemed offensive. This list of unacceptable activities often includes exploitation of children, unethical treatment of animals, damage to the environment, and dealings with undemocratic regimes or with “bad guy” industries (fur, tobacco,guns, etc.).
Labor: creation of a working environment allowing all employees to develop their potential. Policies include training, career planning, remunerations and advantages, rewards linked to merit, balance between work and family life, as well as mechanisms that ensure non-discrimination and non-harassment. Environment: monitoring and reduction of the damage caused to the environment. For instance, policies of reduction of emissions and waste. Human Rights: making sure the company does not violate human rights nor appears as supporting human rights violators.
Community: investment in its local community. Policies include partnerships with voluntary local organizations, with financial donations, donations in kind (computers for education, food and clothes for the poor), and employees involvement. The company may initiate or participate to a major project such as the regeneration of a poor neighborhood plagued with unemployment, poverty, low education and racial tensions.
Society: investment or partnership beyond the community. For instance, Cause Related Marketing (partnership with a charity to market a product while giving a small percentage of the sales to the charity).
Compliance: Identification of all legal obligations and of the means to comply. Policies must deal with changing rules related to its work force (Labor), its products (Health, Environment, Intellectual property, specific regulations), its administration (Business, Tax), its dealings (supplier and
customer liability, Criminal actions).
MF0013 [Internal Audit and Control] Set1 Q3
Q. 3 Explain the Code of Ethics for Internal Auditor. Explain them in context with blacklisting Price Waterhouse Coopers in Satyam Scam.
Code of Ethics for Internal Auditor
In his book “Practical Guide for Internal Audit” R.S. Adukia has scholarly explained about the code of ethics for internal auditor which is as follows: “This code of ethics sets the minimum requirements for the performance and conduct of internal auditors. This code applies to all internal auditors but does not supersede or replace the requirement on individual to comply with ethical codes issued by professional institutes of which they are members or student members and any organizational codes of ethics or conduct.”
There are four main principles:
1. Integrity: The internal auditor should demonstrate integrity in all aspects of their work. Their integrity establishes an environment of trust, which provides the basis for reliance on all activities carried out by the internal auditors.
2. Objectivity: Objectivity is a state of mind that has regard to all considerations relevant to the activity or process being examined without being unduly influenced by personal interest or the views of others. Internal auditors should display professional objectivity when providing opinions, assessments and recommendations.
3. Confidentiality: Internal auditors must safeguard the information they receive in carrying out their duties. There must not be any unauthorized disclosure of information unless there is a legal or professional requirement to do so.
4. Competency: The internal auditor should make use of his/her knowledge, skills and practical experience necessary for auditor’s activity performance.
They should not accept or perform work that they are not competent to undertake, unless they have received adequate training and support to carry out the work to an appropriate standard.
Achieving compliance with code of ethics
i) Security integrity: The internal auditor should:
a) Perform his/her job honestly, diligently and with responsibility. b) Perform his/her profession in harmony with the acts and other generally binding regulations. c) Avoid any illegal activity and performing any activity discrediting the internal auditor’s profession. d) Respect the legal and ethical objectives of the organizations. e) Take care that his/her integrity should not be compromised.
ii) Objectivity: The internal auditor should:
a) Avoid taking part in activities or relations which may damage, or might be understood as damaging his/her unbiased assessment including activities or relations which may be in conflict with public interests. b) Avoid accepting anything that may damage or might be understood as damaging his/her objective professional assessment. c) Protect his/her objectivity against political influence. d) Disclose all substantial facts known to him/her that being undisclosed might misrepresent the conclusions on activities or events assessed.
iii) Observing Confidentiality: The internal auditor should: a) Be careful when using and protecting information he/she gathered when auditing. b) Avoid disclosing and making use of the information obtained during the auditor’s activities performance in order to damage the interests of other person or organization. c) Avoid making use of the information obtained during the auditor’s activities for personal enrichment or in a way which would be in conflict with the law or which would damage legitimate and ethical interests of the organization.
iv) Demonstrating Competence:
a) It is a pre-requisite that all internal audit staff is aware of and understand: 1. The organization’s aims objectives, risks and governance arrangements. 2. The purpose, risks and issues affecting the service area to be audited. 3. The terms of reference for the audit assignment so that there is a proper appreciation of the parameters within which the review be conducted. 4. The relevant legislation and other regulatory arrangement that relate to the service area to be audited. b) The internal auditor should keep educating himself constantly in order to have a good command of internal audit techniques and auditor standards necessary for obtaining, examining and evaluating the information.
v) Maintaining Audit Independence: Internal auditors should be independent of the activities they audit. Internal auditors are considered independent when they can carry out their work freely and objectively. Independence permits internal auditors to render the impartial and unbiased judgments essential to the proper conduct of audits. This is achieved through organizational status and objectivity. Independence stands for an internal auditor being able to take a stand and report on materiality issues, uninfluenced by any favors coercion or undue influence.
So what were the auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, doing? There was no cash within the company’s banks and yet the auditors went ahead and signed on the balance sheets saying that the money was there.
Not just the cash, even they even signed off on the non-existent interest that accrued on the non-existent bank balance!
Auditors do bank reconciliation to check whether the money has indeed come or not. They check bank statements and certificates. So was this a total lapse in supervision or were the bank statements forged? No one knows yet. The cops have already raided the PwC office in Hyderabad, but details of what they have found are yet to emerge.
The company officials said they relied on data from the reputed auditors. But PricewaterhouseCoopers, stung by this insinuation hit back at Satyam. In a statement to the media, the firm said: The audits were conducted by Price Waterhouse in accordance with applicable auditing standards and were supported by appropriate audit evidence. Given our obligations for client confidentiality, it is not possible for us to comment upon the alleged irregularities. Price Waterhouse will fully meet its obligations to cooperate with the regulators and others. (Extracted from Rediffmail.com).
MF0013 [Internal Audit and Control] Set1 Q4
Q.4 As a senior audit assistant of M/s. Asutosh Associates, you are in charge of internal audit team of M/s Rajesh Technologies involved in the manufacture of plastic tubes. From the information you obtained you find the company is facing liquidity problem for the last two years. You are required to prepare working paper indicating the internal audit problems you would expect to face and how you plan to overcome them.
There have been many accounting scandals over the years which resulted in more traders showing interest in learning how to analyze a company’s financial statements. When companies do declare bankruptcy, it is usually because they cannot pay their debts. So let’s take a look at the importance of corporate debt and go over how an investor can analyze a company’s liquidity.
Economic theory says that the mix of debt and equity in a company’s capital structure is irrelevant, that the value of a firm should be independent of its debt ratio. In the real world, companies and investors have to worry about things like taxes and the risk of default, so a company’s capital structure can be relevant to its long-term survival.
Long -term creditors can also put restrictions on the company such as preventing it from taking on additional debt or paying higher dividends. Most public companies have at least some debt, and the biggest reason to take on debt is to leverage the equity (much like buying stock on margin). Return on equity is very important to investors. But the greater the proportion of debt to equity on the balance sheet, the higher the business risk.
Since a lot of corporate debt tends to be short-term, there can be a real risk to the company if investors lose confidence in it. It is not unlike a run on a bank, where liabilities (loans) have a longer duration than their assets (deposits). If everyone suddenly wants their money now, the bank will not be able to meet the demand and be forced to close. That is why it is important to look at a company’s debt and liquidity.
Liquidity in the option markets refers to the volume of contracts changing hands in a day. There is lots of liquidity in the options of companies such as IBM and Microsoft, since there are many buyers and sellers. However, liquidity means something very different at the company level. Here we are referring to whether or not the company has, or can generate, enough cash to keep operating if they had to pay off short-term debt quickly.
Banks use liquidity analysis to assess the risk of a company not being able to repay them in the short term. Agencies rate a company’s debt according to the perceived threat of default. Still, crises periodically seem to emerge from almost nowhere to cause the sudden collapse of companies that seemed solid only weeks before. Once investors lose confidence, as companies such as Enron, Qwest and WorldCom learned, liquidity can mean the difference between survival and death. That is why investors should always take a little time to check debt and liquidity ratios before entering any trading position.
Most investors are familiar with the corporate bond market. When a ratings agency such as Moody’s or Standard and Poor’s downgrades a company’s debt, this certainly causes the company’s bond holders some distress, as the value of the bonds will drop. Still, since corporate bonds are primarily long-term debt, this is not usually the source of liquidity problems (unless a large amount just happens to be nearing expiration). No, it is usually a company’s short-term debt that gets them in trouble.
When a company runs into financial problems, their debt rating is usually quickly downgraded. Investors demand a higher premium to lend to the company. If they lose confidence altogether they will simply refuse to lend at any price. If the company does not have liquid assets available, even temporary cash flow problems can quickly become life threatening.
Of course, the banks most companies up in the short term. Before investors will buy commercial paper, they usually require a commercial paper back-up facility with a bank. This gives them a bit more security that they will be paid. However, this facility is not meant to be used, and drawing on it is an admission the company is having severe liquidity problems. This is what happened to Qwest about two years ago.
When Qwest had trouble borrowing in the commercial paper markets, they had to draw down their $4 billion credit line with banks. It was a stop-gap measure that put off a financial reckoning for a few months, but credit agencies responded by cutting the rating on its outstanding bonds to near junk status. $4 billion is a lot of money to come up with in short time. By comparison, their market capitalization was $16.4 billion at the time, they had annual revenue of about $20 billion, and a loss of $4 billion the previous year.
So one of the first ratios an investor should look at is the company’s debt to its total capital. Total capital is all their debt plus equity. This ratio should be compared with what is normal in their industry and not simply against all other businesses.
The next thing to look at is a company’s ability to meet its debt payments. This is measured by a ratio called “times interest earned”. Times interest earned is a company’s earnings divided by their total interest cost. For the earnings number you could choose to use EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes), or the more aggressive EBITDA (which adds back the non-cash costs of depreciation and amortization).