Auditing and assurance

Category: Accounting


KPMG's strategic decision of specialising in audits of subprime mortgage firms earned them a large pool of clientele that is a major advantage of being a specialist on a particular industry. In order to position themselves as specialists in particular industries are to spend their resources and train personnel on technology required according to specific industry, this way audit personnel and audit firms are better off by understanding the industry throughout where they are specialists which is very fundamental. They continuously invest in gaining more knowledge about the industry's internal control, organisation structure, way the business in conducted which helps them in reducing the time taken for audits by simultaneously improving quality. Auditors will be in a better position to advice their clients about the internal controls and how to overcome potential problems with cost effective solutions. Therefore helps them in providing a good quality audits for their clients. [1]

Differentiation strategy provides an auditor with sustainable competitive advantage also helps auditors to charge premium price avoiding the competition. Industry specialised audit firms assist clients in enhancing disclosures. Choosing an industry-specialist auditor for auditing their financial statements signals a client's intention to provide enhanced disclosures. [2]

Being an industry specialised audit firm also causes them problems with lawsuits being massive therefore poking them to diversify their clients to reduce the intensity. As for market is concerned it gives raise to anti-competitive environment giving raise to monopoly in particular industry which is what happened with KPMG in our case. It also causes issues relating to confidentiality of information across the companies as they are audited by same firm. Any misinterpretation or misrepresentation of accounting policy as with the case of New-Century they calculated their repayment loss reserve wrongly, such a way if an audit firm does any accounting policy wrongly it affects the whole industry of clients. As long as economies of scale and market are concerned it is good to have competitors for specialised industries and diversified clients for auditing firms.



The auditor who is responsible for conducting the audit usually called "Engagement Partner" is responsible for choosing an appropriate engagement team with varied range of skills, characteristics and competence to independently perform the audit as per the Auditing Standards. Some quality control mechanisms that KPMG should have followed to improve their quality of audit in case of most of inexperienced staff in an engagement team are:

KPMG failed to follow the basic quality control mechanisms therefore resulting in poor quality of audit. The significant drawbacks concerning the engagement with New-Century are



The objective of auditing firm is to issue an unqualified opinion on the company's internal control, financial reports of the year-end and the effect of internal control in issuing an opinion on financial reports according to section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley Act. As the internal controls have significant effect on the financial reporting the effective internal controls of a company gives a reasonable assurance over the reliability of reports and also on the financial statements generated for external purposes.[1]

The auditor's responsibility is to perform an integrated audit to accomplish objectives of both internal controls over financial reporting and financial statements.

To identify whether material weaknesses exist in a company's internal controls the auditor has to plan and execute audit to obtain evidence beyond reasonable doubt to issue an opinion. Even though financial reports are not materially misstated there is a scope for material weakness of company's internal controls during the financial reporting period.

"Deficiency of internal control exists when the normal course of operations assigned to management or staff does not allow detecting the misstatements as and when they occur on timely basis." [1]

"Significant deficiency is a deficiency or combination of deficiencies in internal control, which affects the company's ability of initiate, record, process, authorise or report external financial information in accordance with accounting standards such that the occurrence is more probable that a misstatement of a company's financial statements those are more than inconsequential will not be detected or prevented."[1]

"Material weakness is a significant or a combination of significant deficiencies which prevents in detecting a material misstatement of financial statements which are more probable." [1]

During the audit process each control deficiency is evaluated to determine whether the deficiencies either individually or in combination, are material weakness according to the management's assessment for the reporting period. However an auditor need not look for deficiencies those are lesser than material weakness.

Under testing controls auditor obtains evidence by

During the audit Entity level controls are tested using a top down approach. All the significant accounts and its disclosure are verified as per the management's assertions.

The auditor forms an opinion based on the evidence obtained from all sources including testing of controls, effectiveness of internal controls during the period of financial reporting and any identified control deficiencies or misstatements in financial statements during the audit. If all these evidence does not provide any significant deficiencies of internal control over financial statement or material weaknesses in financial statements then the auditor issue's an unqualified opinion.

The auditor must communicate to the management in written about all deficiencies found over financial reporting and also about any ineffectiveness in the measure of internal controls by internal audit committee about those findings during the audit. He must communicate all these issues in detail to internal audit committee and management.

In the case of New Century's audit by KPMG, auditors failed to identify the significant deficiencies in internal controls and material weaknesses resulted in financial statements.



Accounting estimates are made when there is an uncertainty in the outcome of an event due to past transaction or most likely future transaction. A firm's management is responsible for making accounting estimates which is based past events, certain facts and assumptions where a professional judgement has to be made according to the framework of accounting standards and adequate disclosures.

The auditor's role is to verify the reasonableness of all the accounting estimates made by management is in accordance with accounting standards framework and its disclosures. It is difficult to have control on these estimates for the management as these estimates are subjective and objective factors. Generally the process of accounting estimates are handled by competent personnel based on certain assumptions and past available data.

If the Internal control based on which the accounting estimates are made are effective that will reduce the likelihood of misstatement of these estimates. The ineffective internal controls affected in case of New Century's calculation of loss revaluation reserve resulting in the misstatement of accounting estimates. Auditor has to verify internal controls relating to accounting estimates.

Auditors when evaluating account estimates he audits and obtains evidence that those estimates developed were reasonable and are presented in accordance to the accounting standards and its disclosures.

The auditors review and test the management's process



Generally accepted auditing standards that KPMG has violated and was charged by bankruptcy examiner for not complying with standards are



Mark to market rule is an accounting policy which values the assets and liabilities based on the current market realisable value instead of recognising by historical value. As the market condition change the values of balances on balance sheet change frequently. The fair value of assets are based on market not entity specific, the value is the price at which an asset can be sold in a normal transaction between the market participants on the measurement date.

Principle arguments opposing the mark-to-market rule are