The following auditing interpretation reflects references to standards before their reorganization. The reorganized auditing interpretation is available here.
AU Section 9543
Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors: Auditing Interpretations of Section 543
1. Specific Procedures Performed by the Other Auditor at the Principal Auditor's Request
Question—An independent auditor is auditing the financial statements of a component fn 1 in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and is issuing a report to his client that will also be used by another independent auditor who is acting as a principal auditor. fn 2 The principal auditor requests the other auditor to perform specific procedures, for example, to furnish or test amounts to be eliminated in consolidation, such as intercompany profits, or to read other information in documents containing audited financial statements. In those circumstances, who is responsible to determine the extent of the procedures to be performed?
Interpretation—Section 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors, paragraph .10, states that the principal auditor "should adopt appropriate measures to assure the coordination of his activities with those of the other auditor in order to achieve a proper review of matters affecting the consolidating or combining of accounts in the financial statements." Section 543.10c(iv) further states that those measures may include procedures such as ascertaining through communication with the other auditor "that a review will be made of matters affecting elimination of intercompany transactions and accounts."
Thus, when the principal auditor requests the other auditor to perform procedures, the principal auditor is responsible for determining the extent of the procedures to be performed. The principal auditor should provide specific instructions on procedures to be performed, materiality considerations for that purpose, and other information that may be necessary in the circumstances. The other auditor should perform the requested procedures in accordance with the principal auditor's instructions and report the findings solely for the use of the principal auditor.
[Issue Date: April, 1979; Revised: November 1996.]
2. Inquiries of the Principal Auditor by the Other Auditor
Question—Section 543, Part of Audit Performed by Other Independent Auditors, gives guidance to a principal auditor on making inquiries of the other auditor. Section 543.03 also states that "the other auditor remains responsible for the performance of his own work and for his own report." Should the other auditor also make inquiries of the principal auditor to fulfill that responsibility?
Interpretation—Section 334, Related Parties, states that there may be inquiry of the principal auditor regarding related parties. In addition, before issuing his report, the other auditor should consider whether he should inquire of the principal auditor as to matters that may be significant to his own audit.
The other auditor's consideration of whether to make the inquiry should be based on factors such as his awareness that there are transactions or relationships which are unusual or complex between the component he is auditing and the component the principal auditor is auditing, or his knowledge that in the past matters relating to his audit have arisen that were known to the principal auditor but not to him.
If the other auditor believes inquiry is appropriate he may furnish the principal auditor with a draft of the financial statements expected to be issued and of his report solely for the purpose of aiding the principal auditor to respond to the inquiry. The inquiry would concern transactions, adjustments, or other matters that have come to the principal auditor's attention that he believes require adjustment to or disclosure in the financial statements of the component being audited by the other auditor. Also, the other auditor should inquire about any relevant limitation on the scope of the audit performed by the principal auditor.
[Issue Date: April, 1979.]
3. Form of Inquiries of the Principal Auditor Made by the Other Auditor
Question—In those circumstances when the other auditor believes an inquiry of the principal auditor is appropriate, what form should the inquiry take and when should it be made?
Interpretation—The other auditor's inquiry ordinarily should be in writing. It should indicate whether the response should be in writing, and should specify the date as of which the principal auditor should respond. Ordinarily, that date should be near the anticipated date of the other auditor's report. An example of a written inquiry from the other auditor is as follows:
"We are auditing the financial statements of (name of client) as of (date) and for the (period of audit) for the purpose of expressing an opinion as to whether the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position, results of operations, and cash flows of (name of client) in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
A draft of the financial statements referred to above and a draft of our report are enclosed solely to aid you in responding to this inquiry. Please provide us (in writing) (orally) with the following information in connection with your current examination of the consolidated financial statements of (name of parent company):
1.Transactions or other matters (including adjustments made during consolidation or contemplated at the date of your reply) that have come to your attention that you believe require adjustment to or disclosure in the financial statements of (name of client) being audited by us.
2.Any limitation on the scope of your audit that is related to the financial statements of (name of client) being audited by us, or that limits your ability to provide us with the information requested in this inquiry.
Please make your response as of a date near (expected date of the other auditor's report)."
The principal auditor's reply will often be made as of a date when his audit is still in progress; however, the other auditor should expect that ordinarily the response should satisfy his need for information. However, there may be instances when the principal auditor's response explains that it is limited because his audit has not progressed to a point that enables him to provide a response that satisfies the other auditor's need for information. If the principal auditor's response is limited in that manner, the other auditor should consider whether to apply acceptable alternative procedures, delay the issuance of his report until the principal auditor can respond, or qualify his opinion or disclaim an opinion for a limitation on the scope of his audit.
[Issue Date: April, 1979]
4. Form of Principal Auditor's Response to Inquiries from Other Auditors
Question—An independent auditor acting in the capacity of a principal auditor may receive an inquiry from another independent auditor performing the audit of the financial statements of a component concerning transactions, adjustments, or limitations on his audit. fn 3 What should be the form of the principal auditor's response?
Interpretation—The principal auditor should respond promptly to the other auditor's inquiry, based on his audit, and if applicable, on his reading of the draft financial statements and report furnished by the other auditor. His response may be written or oral, as requested by the other auditor. However, the principal auditor's response ordinarily should be in writing if it contains information that may have a significant effect on the other auditor's audit.
The principal auditor should identify the stage of completion of his audit as of the date of his reply. He should also indicate that no audit procedures were performed for the purpose of identifying matters that would not affect his audit and report, and therefore, not all the information requested would necessarily be revealed. If the principal auditor has been furnished with a draft of the financial statements being audited by the other auditor and a draft of his report, the principal auditor should state that he has read the draft only to aid him in making his reply.
An example of a written response from the principal auditor is as follows:
"This letter is furnished to you in response to your request that we provide you with certain information in connection with your audit of the financial statements of (name of component), a (subsidiary, division, branch or investment) of Parent Company for the year ended (date).
We are in the process of performing an audit of the consolidated financial statements of Parent Company for the year ended (date) (but have not completed our work as of this date). The objective of our audit is to enable us to express an opinion on the consolidated financial statements of Parent Company and, accordingly, we have performed no procedures directed toward identifying matters that would not affect our audit or our report. However, solely for the purpose of responding to your inquiry, we have read the draft of the financial statements of (name of component) as of (date) and for the (period of audit) and the draft of your report on them, included with your inquiry dated (date of inquiry).
Based solely on the work we have performed (to date) in connection with our audit of the consolidated financial statements, which would not necessarily reveal all or any of the matters covered in your inquiry, we advise you that:
1.No transactions or other matters (including adjustments made during consolidation or contemplated at this date) have come to our attention that we believe require adjustment to or disclosure in the financial statements of (name of component) being audited by you.
2.No limitation has been placed by Parent Company on the scope of our audit that, to our knowledge, is related to the financial statements of (name of component) being audited by you, that has limited our ability to provide you with the information requested in your inquiry."
[Issue Date: April, 1979.]
5. Procedures of the Principal Auditor
Question—What steps, if any, should the principal auditor take in responding to an inquiry such as that described in section 9543.11?
[The following paragraph is effective for audits of fiscal years beginning on or after December 15, 2010. See PCAOB Release No. 2010-004
. For audits of fiscal years beginning before December 15, 2010, click here
Interpretation − The principal auditor's response should ordinarily be made by the engagement partner. The engagement partner should take those steps that he or she considers reasonable under the circumstances to be informed of known matters pertinent to the other auditor's inquiry. For example, the engagement partner may inquire of engagement team members responsible for various aspects of the engagement or he or she may direct engagement team members to bring to his or her attention any significant matters of which they become aware during the audit. The principal auditor is not required to perform any procedures directed toward identifying matters that would not affect his or her audit or his or her report.
If between the date of his response and the completion of his audit, the principal auditor becomes aware of information that he would have included in his response to the other auditor's inquiry had he been aware of it, the principal auditor should promptly communicate such information to the other auditor. fn 5
[Issue Date: April, 1979.]
6. Application of Additional Procedures Concerning the Audit Performed by the Other Auditor
Question—If a principal auditor decides not to make reference to the audit of another auditor, section 543 requires him to consider whether to apply procedures to obtain information about the adequacy of the audit performed by the other auditor. In making a decision about (a) whether to apply one or more of the procedures listed in section 543.12 and (b), if applicable, the extent of those procedures, may the principal auditor consider his knowledge of the other auditor's compliance with quality control policies and procedures?
Interpretation—Yes. The principal auditor's judgment about the extent of additional procedures, if any, to be applied in the circumstances may be affected by various factors including his knowledge of the other auditor's quality control policies and procedures that provide the other auditor with reasonable assurance of conformity with generally accepted auditing standards in his audit engagements.
Other factors that the principal auditor may wish to consider in making that decision include his previous experience with the other auditor, the materiality of the portion of the financial statements audited by the other auditor, the control exercised by the principal auditor over the conduct of the audit performed by the other auditor, and the results of the principal auditor's other procedures that may indicate whether additional evidential matter is necessary.
[Issue Date: December, 1981.]
[7.] Reporting on Financial Statements Presented on a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of a Governmental Entity When One Fund Has Been Audited by Another Auditor
[Withdrawn December, 1992 by the Audit Issues Task Force.] [fn 6][fn 7]