VERIFICATION APPROACH OF AUDIT
VERIFICATION APPROACH OF AUDIT
We are now moving on to deal with the substantive testing, or
verification aspect of the audit. In the past
lectures we have been learning the early steps in the time
structure of an audit:
• Accepting the appointment
• Planning, recording, controlling the audit
• Evaluation internal controls
• Testing the controls
By this stage, the auditor will have made a decision on the
general approach to be taken to the audit work. If
the controls systems are effective and operating as laid down,
the amount of verification work will be reduced.
If the controls are weak or are not operating effectively, a
high level of verification work will be performed. It
is this verification work that we are dealing with in this and
the next few lectures.
To verify means to establish the truth of something. This audit
work involves the audit in gathering evidence
this will lead to a conclusion as to whether classes of
transactions, balances and disclosures reflected in the
client’s financial statements are properly stated (true and
We have already discussed in detail the general audit
verification principles; here we will have a brief over view
Audit Verification Techniques:
As we have already discussed in the previous lectures that at
the verification stage of the audit, the auditor is
typically presented with a set of draft financial statements
prepared by the client.
of the auditor is to
generate evidence to allow a conclusion to be reached as to
whether the information contained in
these financial statements, and the way the information is
presented and disclosed, give a true and
We already know that audit evidences are generated by the
auditor performing audit tests. Here, in verification
work, the auditor will use substantive testing procedures,
designed to give evidence relating to the figures in
the financial statements, rather than control test, dealing with
the systems that produced those figures.
However, the testing procedures available to the auditor here
are the same as those we saw earlier. As a
reminder, audit-testing procedures available to the auditor are:
This covers the physical review or examination of records,
documents and tangible assets. An example in
substantive testing is examining purchase invoices to ensure
that they have been properly recorded and
analyzed in the financial statements.
This procedure is mainly applicable to tests of control, but may
also be used in substantive testing, such as the
auditor observing the client's inventory count to gain evidence
that the inventory figure in the financial
statements had been arrived at accurately.
Seeking relevant information from knowledgeable persons inside
or outside the enterprise.
An example in substantive testing is asking management for an
explanation as to why a receivable has, or has
not, been treated as bad.
Checking the arithmetical accuracy of records or performing
independent calculations, for example computing
or re-computing the depreciation expense for the year.
You should note that these procedures are mainly used in
substantive testing rather than as a test of controls.
They may help the auditor to understand relationships between
figures in the financial statements. This is
sometimes referred to as the business approach to auditing.
Choice of Verification Techniques
There are no specific rules that exist as to the type(s) of
techniques that the auditor should use in a given set of
This is principally a matter of audit judgment and the nature of
the audit objective(s). The auditor has to look
at each individual item in its own right, identify the audit
objective(s) for that particular item and then decide
the most reliable audit evidence available. The circumstances
and evidence available will affect the type of
technique(s) he uses.
Audit Objectives and Financial Statement Assertions
As just stated the type(s) of technique(s) used depend on the
audit objectives that the auditor is seeking to
The general objective to be achieved by audit verification work
is to establish whether the financial statements
present a true and fair view.
We can identify a number of more detailed objectives which
underlie this overall objective. These more
detailed objectives allow the auditor to design a series of
substantive test on each audit area (inventory,
receivables, etc) which will build up the overall bank of
evidence necessary to support the overall audit
In carrying out substantive audit tests (verification work) the
auditor will be looking for evidence on different
assertions at the financial statements level.
Assertions in obtaining Audit Evidence:
(a) Assertions about
classes of transactions and events
for the period under audit;
– transactions and events that have been
recorded have occurred and pertain to
– all transactions and events that
should have been recorded have been
– amounts and other data relating to
recorded transactions and events have been
– transactions and events have been
recorded in the proper period.
– transactions and events have been
recorded in the proper accounts.
(b) Assertions about
account balances at the period end.
– assets, liabilities, and equity
obligations – the entity holds or
controls the rights to assets, and liabilities are
the obligations of the entity;
– all assets, liabilities and equity
interests that should have been recorded
have been recorded;
allocation – assets, liabilities, and
equity interests are included in the financial
statements at appropriate amounts and any resulting valuation or
allocation adjustments are
(c) Assertions about
Presentation and Disclosure:
and rights and obligations – disclosed
events, transactions and other matters
have occurred and pertain to the entity.
– all disclosures that should have
been included in the financial statements
have been included;
Classification and understandability –
financial information is appropriately presented
and described, and disclosures are clearly expressed;
valuation – financial and other
information are disclosed fairly and at
This concept takes the view that draft accounts presented by the
client to the auditor are making a number of
promises, or assertions. The role of substantive testing is to
verify these assertions.
The assertions made by the financial statements and the related
objectives of the substantive testing objectives
set out above can be shown as follows:
ASSERTION TESTING OBJECTIVE
Assets shown include all rights under the
control of the enterprise
Transactions arising during the period are
reflected in the period's financial statements
The amounts at which assets and liabilities
are stated is correct
Assets and liabilities included on the balance
sheet actually exist
Assets and liabilities are shown in the
financial statements such that the user would
have a clear understanding of the client's
Review of Financial Statements
Content of Financial Statements
It is important that you are clear as to exactly what the
financial statements consist of under modern
They comprise the following:
a) The primary statements
i) Balance sheet
ii) Income statement
iii) Statement of changes in equity
iv) Cash flow statement
v) The notes to the accounts
b) The directors' report
c) The auditor's report.
The main principles underlying the preparation and presentation
of company financial statements are now set
out by the International Accounting Standards Board's document
Framework for the Preparation
and Presentation of
The major points from this document are summarized below:
1 The elements of Financial Statements
The starting point here is definitions of assets and
liabilities. The other elements are then defined in terms of
are rights or other access to future
economic benefits controlled by an entity as a result of past
transactions or events.
are obligations of an entity to transfer
economic benefits as a result of past transactions or
is arrived at by deducting liabilities
from assets (capital = assets - liabilities).
losses are determined in terms of
increases and decreases in owners' equity.
2 Recognition in financial statements
Recognition essentially means the recording process. The
principles here address such questions as when is it
acceptable to recognize (record) an asset or liability and when
should assets and liabilities be de-recognized (no
longer recorded in financial statements). The main points to
Assets and liabilities
should be recognized when there is evidence of their existence and they can be
They should be
derecognized when the right (assets) or obligations (liabilities) no longer
The Timing of Audit Procedures:
control can be (and usually are)
performed by the auditor before the client's year end - at the
so called interim audit stage -
Substantive Audit Procedures
and verification work will be performed
primarily at or very soon after the client's year end, as these
procedures normally rely on the availability of
draft financial statements.
Verification of the individual assets and liabilities by the
auditor extends into the post balance sheet period (i.e.
the period between the year end date and the date of approval of
the financial statements). The auditors will
use this to their advantage when seeking to verify amounts
stated for contingent liabilities, and for post
balance sheet events (These are explained in a later chapter).
Substantive procedures are performed in order to detect material
misstatements at the assertion level (Like;
occurrence, completeness, accuracy, valuation, existence, rights
and control), and include tests of details of
classes of transactions, account balances and disclosures and
substantive analytical procedures.
Nature of Substantive Procedures
• Tests of
details are ordinarily more
appropriate to obtain audit evidence regarding certain assertions about
account balances, including existence and valuation.
procedures are applied on large volume
of transactions, which are predictable over time. (Cost of
goods sold, payroll, sale)
Timing of Substantive Procedures
Year end substantive procedures are always more reliable
In considering whether to perform substantive procedures at an
interim date the auditor considers such
factors as the following:
• The control environment
and other relevant controls. (Like payroll disbursement)
• The availability of
information at a later date that is necessary for the auditor’s procedures
for doubtful debts can be investigated interim but debtor and
inventory can be verified at the year
• The objective of the
• The assessed risk of
material misstatement (Prefer always at year end).
• The nature of the class
of transactions or account balance and related assertions (Like frequency of
occurrence of the transactions e.g. salaries are paid monthly
whereas bonuses are paid annually).
• The ability of the
auditor to perform appropriate substantive procedures or substantive procedures
combined with tests of controls to cover the remaining period in
order to reduce the risk that
misstatements that exist at period end are not detected
(Staffing problem that cannot make the
auditor able to extend till the year end)
If substantive procedures are performed at an interim date, the
auditor may sometimes consider applying tests
of controls also on the transactions of remaining period while
extending his substantive procedures from
interim date to the period end.
Extent of performance of substantive procedures
Greater the risk of material misstatement due to weaknesses in
the system of internal control, the greater
would be the risk of material misstatement in the financial
In designing tests of details, the auditor may use either audit
sampling or may choose to select items to be
tested by some other selective means of testing.