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ASA 500 - Audit Evidence - April 2006

Authoritative Version
ASA 500 Standards/Accounting & Auditing as made
Auditing Standard ASA 500 establishes mandatory requirements and provides explanatory guidance on what constitutes audit evidence in an audit of a financial report, the quantity and quality of audit evidence to be obtained, and the audit procedures that auditors use for obtaining that audit evidence.
Administered by: Treasury
General Comments: This Auditing Standard is operative for financial reporting periods commencing on or after 1 July 2006.
Exempt from sunsetting by the Legislation (Exemptions and Other Matters) Regulation 2015 s12 item 18
Registered 12 May 2006
Tabling HistoryDate
Tabled HR22-May-2006
Tabled Senate13-Jun-2006
Table of contents.
 

ASA 500

(April 2006)

 

 

 

 

Auditing Standard ASA 500
Audit Evidence

 

 

Issued by the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board



Obtaining a Copy of this Auditing Standard

This Auditing Standard is available on the AUASB website: www.auasb.gov.au.

Alternatively, printed copies of this Auditing Standard are available by contacting:

Auditing and Assurance Standards Board

Level 4

530 Collins Street

Melbourne   Victoria   3000

AUSTRALIA

Phone:    (03) 8080 7400

Fax:          (03) 8080 7450

E-mail:                 enquiries@auasb.gov.au

 

Postal Address:

PO Box 204

Collins Street West

Melbourne   Victoria   8007

AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

COPYRIGHT

© Commonwealth of Australia 2006. The text, graphics and layout of this Auditing Standard are protected by Australian copyright law and the comparable law of other countries. Reproduction within Australia in unaltered form (retaining this notice) is permitted for personal and non-commercial use subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights for commercial purposes within Australia should be addressed to the Principal Executive, Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, PO Box 204, Collins Street West, Melbourne Victoria 8007. Otherwise, no part of the Auditing Standard may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the AUASB except as permitted by law.

 

 

 

ISSN 1833-4393


CONTENTS

PREFACE

AUTHORITY STATEMENT

Paragraphs

Application........................................................................................................ 1-2

Operative Date..................................................................................................... 3

Introduction...................................................................................................... 4-5

Concept of Audit Evidence............................................................................ 6-9

Sufficient Appropriate Audit Evidence.................................................... 10-18

The Use of Assertions in Obtaining Audit Evidence............................. 19-23

Audit Procedures for Obtaining Audit Evidence.................................... 24-30

Inspection of Records or Documents........................................................ 31-32

Inspection of Tangible Assets......................................................................... 33

Observation........................................................................................................ 34

Enquiry.......................................................................................................... 35-39

Confirmation...................................................................................................... 40

Recalculation.................................................................................................... 41

Reperformance................................................................................................... 42

Analytical Procedures..................................................................................... 43

Conformity with International Standards on Auditing................................ 44

 


Preface

Reasons for Issuing Auditing Standard ASA 500 Audit Evidence

The Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB) issues Auditing Standard ASA 500 Audit Evidence, due to the requirements of the legislative, provisions explained below.

The Corporate Law Economic Reform Program (Audit Reform and Corporate Disclosure) Act 2004 (the CLERP 9 Act) established the AUASB as an independent statutory body under section 227A of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001, as from 1 July 2004. Under section 336 of the Corporations Act 2001, the AUASB may make Auditing Standards for the purposes of the corporations legislation. These Auditing Standards are legislative instruments under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.

Main Features

This Auditing Standard:

(a)                 provides explanatory guidance on what constitutes audit evidence;

(b)                requires the auditor to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence;

(c)                 requires the auditor to use assertions in obtaining audit evidence; and

(d)                provides explanatory guidance on audit procedures for obtaining audit evidence.

Operative Date

This Auditing Standard is operative for financial reporting periods commencing on or after 1 July 2006.


Main changes from AUS 502 (February 2004) Audit Evidence

The main differences between this Auditing Standard and the Auditing Standard issued by the Auditing & Assurance Standards Board of the Australian Accounting Research Foundation, AUS 502 (February 2004) Audit Evidence, is are that in this Auditing Standard:

1.                   The word ‘shall’, in the bold-type paragraphs, is the terminology used to describe an auditor’s mandatory requirements, whereas an auditor’s degree of responsibility is described in AUS 502 by the word ‘should’.

2.                   The explanatory guidance paragraphs provide guidance and illustrative examples to assist the auditor in fulfilling the mandatory requirements, whereas in AUS 502 some obligations are implied within certain explanatory paragraphs. Accordingly, such paragraphs have been redrafted to clarify that the matter forms part of the explanatory guidance.


AUTHORITY STATEMENT

The Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB) makes Auditing Standard ASA 500 Audit Evidence,as set out in paragraphs 1 to 44, pursuant to section 227B of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 and section 336 of the Corporations Act 2001.

This Auditing Standard is to be read in conjunction with the Preamble to AUASB Standards, which sets out the intentions of the AUASB on how the Auditing Standards are to be understood, interpreted and applied.

The mandatory requirements of this Auditing Standard are set out in bold-type paragraphs.

 

 

 

 

Dated 28 April 2006                                                                                   M H Kelsall
                                                                                                        Chairman - AUASB

 


AUDITING STANDARD ASA 500

Audit Evidence

Application

1                    This Auditing Standard applies to:

(a)                 an audit of a financial report for a financial year, or an audit of a financial report for a half-year, in accordance with Part 2M.3 of the Corporations Act 2001; and

(b)                 an audit of a financial report for any other purpose.

2                     This Auditing Standard also applies, as appropriate, to an audit of other financial information.

Operative Date

3                    This Auditing Standard is operative for financial reporting periods commencing on or after 1 July 2006.

Introduction

4                     The purpose of this Auditing Standard is to establish mandatory requirements and to provide explanatory guidance on what constitutes audit evidence in an audit of a financial report, the quantity and quality of audit evidence to be obtained, and the audit procedures that the auditor uses for obtaining that audit evidence.

5                    The auditor shall obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to be able to draw reasonable conclusions on which to base the auditor’s opinion.

Concept of Audit Evidence

6                     “Audit evidence” means all the information used by the auditor in arriving at the conclusions on which the auditor’s opinion is based, and includes the information contained in the accounting records underlying the financial report and other information. Auditors are not expected to address all information that may exist, see paragraph 18. Audit evidence, which is cumulative in nature, includes audit evidence obtained from audit procedures performed during the course of the audit and may include audit evidence obtained from other sources such as previous audits and a firm’s quality control procedures for client acceptance and continuance.

7                     Accounting records generally include the records of initial entries and supporting records, such as cheques and records of electronic fund transfers, invoices, contracts, the general and subsidiary ledgers, journal entries and other adjustments to the financial report that are not reflected in formal journal entries, and records such as work sheets and spreadsheets supporting cost allocations, computations, reconciliations and disclosures. The entries in the accounting records are often initiated, recorded, processed and reported in electronic form. In addition, the accounting records may be part of integrated systems that share data and support all aspects of the entity’s financial reporting, operations and compliance objectives.

8                     Those charged with governance are responsible for the preparation of the financial report based upon the accounting records of the entity. Under paragraph 5 of this Auditing Standard, the auditor needs to obtain some audit evidence by testing the accounting records, for example, through analysis and review, reperforming procedures followed in the financial reporting process, and reconciling related types and applications of the same information. Through the performance of such audit procedures, the auditor may determine that the accounting records are internally consistent and agree to the financial report. However, because accounting records alone do not provide sufficient audit evidence on which to base an auditor’s opinion on the financial report, the auditor, under paragraph 5 of this standard, needs to obtain other audit evidence.

9                     Other information that the auditor may use as audit evidence includes minutes of meetings, confirmations from third parties, analysts’ reports, comparable data about competitors (benchmarking), controls manuals, information obtained by the auditor from such audit procedures as enquiry, observation, and inspection, and other information developed by, or available to, the auditor that permits the auditor to reach conclusions through valid reasoning.

Sufficient Appropriate Audit Evidence

10                  Sufficiency is the measure of the quantity of audit evidence. Appropriateness is the measure of the quality of audit evidence, that is, its relevance and its reliability in providing support for, or detecting misstatements in, the classes of transactions, account balances, and disclosures and related assertions. The quantity of audit evidence needed is affected by the risk of misstatement (the greater the risk, the more audit evidence is likely to be required) and also by the quality of such audit evidence (the higher the quality, the less may be required). Accordingly, the sufficiency and appropriateness of audit evidence are interrelated. However, merely obtaining more audit evidence may not compensate for its poor quality.

11                  A given set of audit procedures may provide audit evidence that is relevant to certain assertions, but not others. For example, inspection of records and documents related to the collection of receivables after the period end may provide audit evidence regarding both existence and valuation, although not necessarily the appropriateness of period-end cut-offs. On the other hand, the auditor ordinarily obtains audit evidence from different sources or of a different nature that is relevant to the same assertion. For example, the auditor may analyse the ageing of accounts receivable and the subsequent collection of receivables to obtain audit evidence relating to the valuation of the allowance for doubtful accounts. Furthermore, obtaining audit evidence relating to a particular assertion, for example, the physical existence of inventory, is not a substitute for obtaining audit evidence regarding another assertion, for example, the valuation of inventory.

12                  The reliability of audit evidence is influenced by its source and by its nature and is dependent on the individual circumstances under which it is obtained. Generalisations about the reliability of various kinds of audit evidence can be made, however, such generalisations are subject to important exceptions. Even when audit evidence is obtained from sources external to the entity, circumstances may exist that could affect the reliability of the information obtained. For example, audit evidence obtained from an independent external source may not be reliable if the source is not knowledgeable. While recognising that exceptions may exist, the following generalisations about the reliability of audit evidence may be useful:

·                     Audit evidence is more reliable when it is obtained from independent sources outside the entity.

·                     Audit evidence that is generated internally is more reliable when the related controls imposed by the entity are effective.

·                     Audit evidence obtained directly by the auditor (for example, observation of the application of a control) is more reliable than audit evidence obtained indirectly or by inference (for example, enquiry about the application of a control).

·                     Audit evidence is more reliable when it exists in documentary form, whether paper, electronic, or other medium (for example, a contemporaneously written record of a meeting is more reliable than a subsequent oral representation of the matters discussed).

·                     Audit evidence provided by original documents is more reliable than audit evidence provided by photocopies or facsimiles.

13                  An audit rarely involves the authentication of documentation, nor is the auditor trained as or expected to be an expert in such authentication. However, under paragraph 5 of this Auditing Standard, the auditor needs to consider the reliability of the information to be used as audit evidence, for example, photocopies, facsimiles, filmed, digitised or other electronic documents, including consideration of controls over their preparation and maintenance where relevant.

14                 When information produced by the entity is used by the auditor to perform audit procedures, the auditor shall obtain audit evidence about the accuracy and completeness of the information.

15                  In order for the auditor to obtain reliable audit evidence, the information upon which the audit procedures are based needs to be sufficiently complete and accurate. For example, in auditing revenue by applying standard prices to records of sales volume, the auditor considers the accuracy of the price information and the completeness and accuracy of the sales volume data. Obtaining audit evidence about the completeness and accuracy of the information produced by the entity’s information system may be performed concurrently with the actual audit procedure applied to the information when obtaining such audit evidence is an integral part of the audit procedure itself. In other situations, the auditor may have obtained audit evidence of the accuracy and completeness of such information by testing controls over the production and maintenance of the information. However, in some situations the auditor may determine that additional audit procedures are needed. For example, these additional audit procedures may include using computer-assisted audit techniques (CAATs) to recalculate the information.

16                  The auditor ordinarily obtains more assurance from consistent audit evidence obtained from different sources or of a different nature than from items of audit evidence considered individually. In addition, obtaining audit evidence from different sources or of a different nature may indicate that an individual item of audit evidence is not reliable. For example, corroborating information obtained from a source independent of the entity may increase the assurance the auditor obtains from a management representation. Conversely, when audit evidence obtained from one source is inconsistent with that obtained from another, the auditor ordinarily determines what additional audit procedures are necessary to resolve the inconsistency.

17                  The auditor ordinarily considers the relationship between the cost of obtaining audit evidence and the usefulness of the information obtained. However, the matter of difficulty or expense involved is not in itself a valid basis for omitting an audit procedure for which there is no alternative.

18                  In forming the auditor’s opinion, the auditor does not examine all the information available because conclusions ordinarily can be reached by using sampling approaches and other means of selecting items for testing. Also, the auditor ordinarily finds it necessary to rely on audit evidence that is persuasive rather than conclusive, however, to obtain reasonable assurance,[1] the auditor is not satisfied with audit evidence that is less than persuasive. The auditor uses professional judgement and exercises professional scepticism in evaluating the quantity and quality of audit evidence, and thus its sufficiency and appropriateness, to support the auditor’s opinion.

The Use of Assertions in Obtaining Audit Evidence

19                  Those charged with governance are responsible for the fair presentation of a financial report that reflects the nature and operations of the entity. In representing that the financial report gives a true and fair view (or is presented fairly, in all material respects) in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework, those charged with governance and management implicitly or explicitly make assertions regarding the recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure of the various elements of a financial report and related disclosures.

20                 The auditor shall use assertions for classes of transactions, account balances, and presentation and disclosures in sufficient detail to form a basis for the assessment of risks of material misstatement and the design and performance of further audit procedures.

21                  Under paragraph 20 of this Auditing Standard, the auditor needs to use assertions in assessing risks by considering the different types of potential misstatements that may occur, and thereby designing audit procedures that are responsive to the assessed risks. Other Auditing Standards, such as ASA 315 Understanding the Entity and Its Environment and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement, ASA 330 The Auditor’s Procedures in Response to Assessed Risks, ASA 501 Existence and Valuation of Inventory and ASA 505 External Confirmations, discuss specific situations where the auditor is required to obtain audit evidence at the assertion level.

22                  Assertions used by the auditor fall into the following categories:

(a)                 Assertions about classes of transactions and events for the period under audit:

(i)                  Occurrence - transactions and events that have been recorded have occurred and pertain to the entity.

(ii)                 Completeness - all transactions and events that should have been recorded have been recorded.

(iii)               Accuracy - amounts and other data relating to recorded transactions and events have been recorded appropriately.

(iv)               Cut-off - transactions and events have been recorded in the correct accounting period.

(v)                Classification - transactions and events have been recorded in the proper accounts.

(b)                 Assertions about account balances at the period end:

(i)                  Existence - assets, liabilities, and equity interests exist.

(ii)                 Rights and obligations - the entity holds or controls the rights to assets, and liabilities are the obligations of the entity.

(iii)               Completeness - all assets, liabilities and equity interests that should have been recorded have been recorded.

(iv)               Valuation and allocation - assets, liabilities, and equity interests are included in the financial report at appropriate amounts and any resulting valuation or allocation adjustments are appropriately recorded.

(c)                 Assertions about presentation and disclosure:

(i)                  Occurrence, rights and obligations - disclosed events, transactions, and other matters have occurred and pertain to the entity.

(ii)                 Completeness - all disclosures that should have been included in the financial report have been included.

(iii)               Classification and understandability - financial information is appropriately presented and described, and disclosures are clearly expressed.

(iv)               Accuracy and valuation - financial and other information are disclosed fairly and at appropriate amounts.

23                  The auditor may use the assertions as described above or may express them differently provided all aspects described above have been covered. For example, the auditor may choose to combine the assertions about transactions and events with the assertions about account balances. As another example, there may not be a separate assertion related to cut-off of transactions and events when the occurrence and completeness assertions include appropriate consideration of recording transactions in the correct accounting period.

Audit Procedures for Obtaining Audit Evidence

24                  In accordance with paragraph 5 of this standard, the auditor is required to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to be able to draw reasonable conclusions on which to base the auditor’s opinion. Under ASA 315 and ASA 330, the auditor needs to perform audit procedures to:

(a)                 obtain an understanding of the entity and its environment, including its internal control, to assess the risks of material misstatement at the financial report and assertion levels (audit procedures performed for this purpose are referred to in the Auditing Standards as “risk assessment procedures”);

(b)                 when necessary or when the auditor has determined to do so, test the operating effectiveness of controls in preventing, or detecting and correcting, material misstatements at the assertion level (audit procedures performed for this purpose are referred to in the Auditing Standards as “tests of controls”); and

(c)                 detect material misstatements at the assertion level (audit procedures performed for this purpose are referred to in the Auditing Standards as “substantive procedures” and include tests of details of classes of transactions, account balances and disclosures, and substantive analytical procedures).

25                  Under ASA 315, the auditor needs to perform risk assessment procedures to provide a satisfactory basis for the assessment of risks at the financial report and assertion levels. Risk assessment procedures by themselves do not provide sufficient appropriate audit evidence on which to base the auditor’s opinion, however, and are supplemented by further audit procedures in the form of tests of controls, when necessary, and substantive procedures.

26                  Tests of controls are necessary in two circumstances. When the auditor’s risk assessment includes an expectation of the operating effectiveness of controls, under ASA 330, the auditor needs to test those controls to support the risk assessment. In addition, when substantive audit procedures alone do not provide sufficient appropriate audit evidence, under ASA 330, the auditor needs to perform tests of controls to obtain audit evidence about their operating effectiveness.

27                  Under ASA 330, the auditor needs to plan and perform substantive audit procedures to be responsive to the related assessment of the risks of material misstatement, which includes the results of tests of controls, if any. The auditor’s risk assessment is judgemental, however, and may not be sufficiently precise to identify all risks of material misstatement. Further, there are inherent limitations to internal control, including the risk of management override, the possibility of human error and the effect of systems changes. Therefore, under ASA 330, the auditor needs to design and perform substantive audit procedures for material classes of transactions, account balances and disclosures to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence.

28                  Under paragraph 5 of this Auditing Standard, the auditor needs to use one or more types of audit procedures described in paragraphs 31 to 43 below. These audit procedures, or combinations thereof, may be used as risk assessment procedures, tests of controls or substantive audit procedures, depending on the context in which they are applied by the auditor. In certain circumstances, audit evidence obtained from previous audits may provide audit evidence where the auditor, under ASA 330, has performed audit procedures to establish its continuing relevance.

29                  The nature and timing of the audit procedures to be used may be affected by the fact that some of the accounting data and other information may be available only in electronic form or only at certain points or periods in time. Source documents, such as purchase orders, bills of lading, invoices, and cheques, may be replaced with electronic messages. For example, entities may use electronic commerce or image processing systems. In electronic commerce, the entity and its customers or suppliers use connected computers over a public network, such as the Internet, to transact business electronically. Purchase, shipping, billing, cash receipt, and cash disbursement transactions are often consummated entirely by the exchange of electronic messages between the parties. In image processing systems, documents are scanned and converted into electronic images to facilitate storage and reference, and the source documents may not be retained after conversion. Certain electronic information may exist at a certain point in time. However, such information may not be retrievable after a specified period of time if files are changed and if backup files do not exist. An entity’s data retention policies may require the auditor to request retention of some information for the auditor’s review or to perform audit procedures at a time when the information is available.

30                  When the information is in electronic form, the auditor may carry out certain of the audit procedures described below through CAATs.

Inspection of Records or Documents

31                  Inspection consists of examining records or documents, whether internal or external, in paper form, electronic form, or other media. Inspection of records and documents provides audit evidence of varying degrees of reliability, depending on their nature and source and, in the case of internal records and documents, on the effectiveness of the controls over their production. An example of inspection used as a test of controls is inspection of records or documents for evidence of authorisation.

32                  Some documents represent direct audit evidence of the existence of an asset, for example, a document constituting a financial instrument such as a stock or bond. Inspection of such documents may not necessarily provide audit evidence about ownership or value. In addition, inspecting an executed contract may provide audit evidence relevant to the entity’s application of accounting policies, such as revenue recognition.

Inspection of Tangible Assets

33                  Inspection of tangible assets consists of physical examination of the assets. Inspection of tangible assets may provide reliable audit evidence with respect to their existence, but not necessarily about the entity’s rights and obligations or the valuation of the assets. Inspection of individual inventory items ordinarily accompanies the observation of inventory counting.

Observation

34                  Observation consists of looking at a process or procedure being performed by others. Examples include observation of the counting of inventories by the entity’s personnel and observation of the performance of control activities. Observation provides audit evidence about the performance of a process or procedure, but is limited to the point in time at which the observation takes place and by the fact that the act of being observed may affect how the process or procedure is performed. See ASA 501, for further mandatory requirements and explanatory guidance on observation of the counting of inventory.

Enquiry

35                  Enquiry consists of seeking information of knowledgeable persons, both financial and non-financial, throughout the entity or outside the entity. Enquiry is an audit procedure that is used extensively throughout the audit and often is complementary to performing other audit procedures. Enquiries may range from formal written enquiries to informal oral enquiries. Evaluating responses to enquiries is an integral part of the enquiry process.

36                  Responses to enquiries may provide the auditor with information not previously possessed or with corroborative audit evidence. Alternatively, responses might provide information that differs significantly from other information that the auditor has obtained, for example, information regarding the possibility of management override of controls. In some cases, responses to enquiries provide a basis for the auditor to modify or perform additional audit procedures.

37                  Ordinarily, the auditor performs audit procedures in addition to the use of enquiry to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence. Enquiry alone ordinarily does not provide sufficient audit evidence to detect a material misstatement at the assertion level. Moreover, enquiry alone is not ordinarily sufficient to test the operating effectiveness of controls.

38                  Although corroboration of evidence obtained through enquiry is often of particular importance, in the case of enquiries about management intent, the information available to support management’s intent may be limited. In these cases, understanding management’s past history of carrying out its stated intentions with respect to assets or liabilities, management’s stated reasons for choosing a particular course of action, and management’s ability to pursue a specific course of action may provide relevant information about management’s intent.

39                  In respect of some matters, the auditor obtains written representations from those charged with governance and management to confirm responses to oral enquiries. For example, the auditor obtains written representations from those charged with governance and/or management on material matters when other sufficient appropriate audit evidence cannot reasonably be expected to exist or when the other audit evidence obtained is of a lower quality. See ASA 580 Management Representations, for further mandatory requirements and explanatory guidance on written representations.

Confirmation

40                  Confirmation, which is a specific type of enquiry, is the process of obtaining a representation of information or of an existing condition directly from a third party. For example, the auditor may seek direct confirmation of receivables by communication with debtors. Confirmations are frequently used in relation to account balances and their components, but need not be restricted to these items. For example, the auditor may request confirmation of the terms of agreements or transactions an entity has with third parties, the confirmation request is designed to ask if any modifications have been made to the agreement and, if so, what the relevant details are. Confirmations also are used to obtain audit evidence about the absence of certain conditions, for example, the absence of a “side agreement” that may influence revenue recognition. See ASA 505, for further mandatory requirements and explanatory guidance on confirmations.

Recalculation

41                  Recalculation consists of checking the mathematical accuracy of documents or records. Recalculation can be performed through the use of information technology, for example, by obtaining an electronic file from the entity and using CAATs to check the accuracy of the summarisation of the file.

Reperformance

42                  Reperformance is the auditor’s independent execution of procedures or controls that were originally performed as part of the entity’s internal control, either manually or through the use of CAATs, for example, reperforming the ageing of accounts receivable.

Analytical Procedures

43                  Analytical procedures consist of evaluations of financial information made by a study of plausible relationships among both financial and non-financial data. Analytical procedures also encompass the investigation of identified fluctuations and relationships that are inconsistent with other relevant information or deviate significantly from predicted amounts. See ASA 520 Analytical Procedures, for further mandatory requirements and explanatory guidance on analytical procedures.

Conformity with International Standards on Auditing

44                  Except as noted below, this Auditing Standard conforms with International Standard on Auditing ISA 500 Audit Evidence, issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board of the International Federation of Accountants. The main difference between this Auditing Standard and ISA 500 is that ISA 500 includes a Public Sector Perspective. This Auditing Standard does not include a separate section on the public sector as it is sector neutral.

Compliance with this Auditing Standard enables compliance with ISA 500.

 



[1]   ASA 200 Objective and General Principles Governing an Audit of a Financial Report, provides discussion of reasonable assurance as it relates to an audit of a financial report.