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The failure of many business organization after an unqualified audit opinion has been given by the external auditors in the same accounting year, have made the public to question the credibility, independence and integrity of external auditors. This research work was carried out to:
· Find out the challenges to auditors independence in an audit and
· The methods and techniques adopted in ensuring independence.
The population of the study was made up of employees of two (2) selected audit firms in Uyo. A sample size of twenty four (24) auditors were selected and a primary data were sourced through the use of questionnaire. Data were analyzed and four research questions were validated.
The study reveals that auditors are not independent due to the following factors: undue dependence on client for loans, acceptance of goods and services as a gift or hospitality from clients. The study concludes that although the code of professional ethics are provided for auditors to ensure their independence, most auditors only adhere partially to the code.
The study therefore recommends the creation of conducive atmosphere for external auditors by the professional bodies, the government, and also the users of the audited financial statement
Back Ground ofthe Study
In recent years, the independence of an auditor has come under criticism. This is because the essence of auditing was to authenticate the true and fairness of the financial statement, and to give a true picture of the financial statement of the reporting entity, and to give credibility to it. This however has not been achieved, as the public has been mislead by “window dressed” financial statement which the auditor has audited and gives an unqualified opinion; and thus mislead the users of this financial statement who relied on it credibility.
Many critics have observed that the public accounting profession has done little to police its own members. Due to the fact that most companies which had been wound up had it financial statement audited within the year and a high margin of profit reported , and yet nothing is done to the auditors who authenticate and attest to it credibility. This and so many other cases put forward by Taylor and Glezen (1994) has brought to light some dismal performance of some auditing firms. Among the prominent case of criminal action against auditors is certified professional midwives(CPMs) in United States Vs Natali (1975) where two auditors where convicted of criminal liability under the 1934 act for certifying financial statement of national student marketing corporation that contain inadequate disclosures pertaining to account receivable. The fraud was so extensive and the audit work so poor that the court concluded that the auditors must have been aware of the fraud and where guilty of complacency.
However, Azubuike (2005) state that auditing is derived from the Latin word AUDIRS which means to hear. Auditing profession emanate as a result of the development in the business organization over the years from sole proprietorship to partnership and then to corporate entities, ownership continue to be separated from the control (management) of the business.
Ikechukwu and Bridget (2004) Opine that today providers of capital that is business owners or share holders engage managers (steward) to run the business organization on their behalf. They managers are accountable to the owners then the question arises: How true or correct are the presentation of the managers to the owners of the business on the day-to-day running of the business.
An intermediary (Auditor) comes into play to mediate between to owners and the management.
Ikechukwu and Bridget (2004) define audit as the independence examination if an expression of opinion on the financial statement of an enterprise by appointed auditor in pursuance of that appointment and in compliance by any relevant statutory obligation.
Okezie (1995) see An audit in a process carried out by a suitable, qualified accountants or auditors whereby the accounts of business entities including charities, trust and professional firms are subjected to scrutiny in such a details as to enable the auditor to form an opinion as to the accuracy, truth and fairness. This opinion is then embodies in an “audit report” (attestation) address to interested parties who commission the audit or to whom the auditors are responsible. For this audit report to be of high quality there is need for professional independence.
Professional independence in the context of this work means the independence of the external auditor which entails independence from parties which way have an interest in the business being audited. Independence requires integrity and objective approach to the audit work or process.The concept requires the auditor to carry-out his or her work freely and in an objective manner.
Aderibigbe (2005) opines that professional independence however is a concept fundamental to the accountancy profession.Baker (2005) stated that professional independence refers to the independence of the auditor from parties, that have an interest in the financial statement of an entity. It is essentially an attitude of mind characterized by integrity and an objective approach to the audit process. This concept requires the auditor to carry out his work freely and in an objective manner.
There are two important aspect of independence which must be distinguished from each other these are:
· The real independence (in fact)
· Independence in operation
However, both are important in achieving the goal of independence.
Real independence is concern with state of mind an auditor is in and how the auditors acts or deal with a specific situation. An auditor who is independence “in fact” has the ability to make independence decisions even if there is a perceived lack of independence present, or if he is place on a compromising position by companies directors while independence in appearance has to do with the auditors mental attitude and personal integrity, since it is difficult to measure his appearance (Taylor and Glezen 1994).There is no independence without quality control being achieved.
Myring and Bloom (2006) defines quality control as consisting all measure and procedures carried out within the audit process to guarantee the quality of audit work and of the resulting report. Quality control is paramount in audit practice because complete independence may never be achieved but quality control can reduce the percentage of interference to a minimum.
Thus it is imperative to the business and the auditing profession that a high quality controlled independent audit be attained to ensure that the suspicion of owners and investors are reduced to the barest minimum. The task is not as easy as it is said but requires extra commitment.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Independence in auditing of companies financial statements is a major problem in the field of auditing because in practice there are circumstances which empower the directors to appoint the auditor and also fixed their remunerations. This act undermines and question the independence of an auditors and where directors who are responsible for the preparation of the financial statements to be audited are in position to hire and pay those who are to audit them- put the auditors, in a difficult position and threatens his independence.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is to evaluate the level of independence and the benefit of quality control in an audit. This study however specifically seeks to;
i) To ascertain the challenges to auditors independence in an audit
ii) To ascertain the methods and techniques adopted in ensuring independence
iii) Evaluate the benefit quality control measures in the audit process
iv) Explore avenues of ensuring auditors independence.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
In other to achieve the objective of the study and proffering solution to problem of study, the following research question were formulated:
a) What are the challenges to auditors independence in an audit?
b) What method and techniques can be adopted to ensure independence?
c). How has the quality control measures assisted in the audit process?
d) What avenues could be used in enhancing auditors independence?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is conceived that at the completion of the study its findings would be beneficial to.
The management of business entities who are contributors to the subject in consideration.
The accounting profession and auditors in their different engagements and assist them to project a good image of accounting profession
Research students who may want to use the study as a source of reference in their academic pursuit.
The entire public (Investors and potential investors) who rely on the external auditor for economic decision making.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study covers auditors independence and quality control in audit practice of the following selected audit firm in Uyo metropolis:
1. Thomas Gamble and Co (chartered accountant).
2. Jimmy Akpan and Co (Chartered accountant).
However these research have some constraints to its scope and coverage, these include:
a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
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