Audit Credibility – Auditor Independence, Objectivity, and Qualifications

Auditing credibility is a process where you check whether the information provided by a source is reliable. This includes checking if the person providing the information has the necessary skills and training to provide accurate information.

ISO ISO 19011 provides seven Principles to ensure audit credibility.

1. Integrity

2. Fair presentation

3. Due professional care

4. Confidentiality

5. Independence

6. Evidence-based approach

7. Risk-based approach

Ensuring that auditors maintain their own credibility starts with professional values like honesty, integrity, objectivity, and impartiality. Let's understand each of these seven principles in more detail. It’s important to understand what each principle means and how it can be applied.

1. Integrity

The first principle of auditing credibility is that it should be based on integrity. The term integrity refers to honesty, fairness, and truthfulness in all aspects of the auditing process. It also means being free from bias or prejudice.

Integrity is one of the most important principles of auditing because it ensures the quality of the audit report. Auditors must have the ability to objectively evaluate the data they collect. They must not allow their personal opinions to influence their findings.

Furthermore, auditors should not accept anything from a company being audited as a gift. Gifts are considered to compromise the integrity of auditors.  Even the perception of integrity compromise can affect the audit credibility.

2. Fair Presentation

This principle states that the information presented during the audit is fair and unbiased. When conducting audits, auditors are required to present only facts and figures. They may not make any assumptions about what the company does or how it operates. The auditor must have the ability to objectively evaluate the facts and circumstances presented in order to make sound judgments.

If auditors do not base their findings on facts, then the results will be biased.

3. Due Professional Care

This principle states that auditors must use due professional care when performing audits. This means that auditors must conduct themselves professionally at all times. They must treat people with respect and dignity. They must follow procedures for collecting evidence. And they must write reports that are objective and factually correct.

4. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is the fourth principle of auditing credibility. When auditors perform audits, they often gather information from many sources. Auditors must keep confidential information secret. Auditors must protect the confidentiality of their client's business secrets. They must also protect their own work product. Only those who need access to this information should be allowed to see it.

5. Independence

Independence refers to the lack of relationship between the auditor and the entity under review. In other words, it refers to the auditor's impartiality toward the auditee. An independent auditor assesses the activities in question without allowing those activities to affect his or her judgment. An auditor is considered independent if he or she has no conflicts of interest.

If an auditor cannot be completely independent, then the audit report should include notes explaining why the auditor was unable to be totally independent.

For small companies, it might not be possible to have an independent auditor for each internal audit. In these cases, the organization should make all efforts to ensure that the audit is unbiased.

6. Evidence-Based Approach

The evidence-Based Approach is the sixth principle of auditing credibility as stated in ISO 19011. Auditors must collect sufficient evidence before making conclusions. Since audits have limited time to complete, it might not be possible to look at each and every piece of information. In such a situation, auditors depend upon sampling.  Sampling involves looking at a subset of records, documents, or accounts. The selection process should be random so that the sample represents the whole population.

The auditor should keep a record of specific samples reviewed during the audit so that these are verifiable.

7. Risk-Based Approach

Risk-based approach is the seventh principle of auditing credibility which states that auditors should focus on areas where there is higher risk. Auditors must identify and consider risks before starting the audit project (even at the planning stage). This way the auditor can focus on areas that are significant and important for the audit objective.

 

Conclusion

The quality of an audit is measured by the credibility of the auditor. Credibility is important because it assures stakeholders that the audit was done in a professional and independent manner.

A credible audit provides assurance to stakeholders that they are reading an accurate audit report that was prepared in accordance with ethical and professional principles.