Only one in four understand role of auditors

Only one in four people in the UK know what an auditor does, compared to a worldwide average of one third, while over half of those in an ACCA poll believed it is auditors who are responsible for avoiding company failures

The UK came out worst in the research by ACCA into public audit awareness with just 25% of respondents knowing that auditors are supposed to give an opinion on whether the financial statements of a company give a true and fair view, and did not include material mistakes due to fraud or error.

The ACCA survey of 11,000 people in 11 countries asked respondents to choose the best description of an auditor’s role from multiple choice questions.

Globally, 55% of respondents said auditors performed their jobs correctly and will prevent company failure, while a third expected auditors to always detect and report any fraud.

Overall, 70% of the general public would like to see audit evolve in a way that will prevent company failures, with 65% of UK respondents supporting this development.

The survey was conducted in association with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), and it comes at a time when the UK audit sector is undergoing unprecedented reviews, including scrutiny of both the role and remit of its soon-to-be reformed regulator, The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and a string of audit scandals involving major listed companies.

Maggie McGhee, executive director – governance at ACCA, said: ‘The profession has long spoken about the expectation gap in audit, and our research highlights the failure of the gap to close. Globally, it is clear that further education on the auditor’s role is required, backed by a proactive approach from the profession to address public concern.’

Antonis Diolas, audit and business law manager, said: ‘There is an urgent need for an open dialogue involving the profession, stakeholders and the public to understand what kind of audit future the public expects.

‘Our data shows high levels of misconception, and that the public are telling us they see audit is part of the solution, a robust audit sector exercising the appropriate levels of professional scepticism. We must work together to address their legitimate concerns about audit.’

The research was conducted in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, UAE and UK.

Pat Sweet

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