Auditors’ and Specialists’ Views About the Use of Specialists During an Audit
101 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2015 Last revised: 5 Apr 2017
Date Written: March 31, 2017
Auditors often rely on the assistance of specialists from such fields as tax, information technology, valuation, and forensic accounting. Integration of the work of specialists with the work of regular audit team members is a challenge for both the specialists and auditors. This interview-based study of 40 practitioners from six accounting firms, including 18 auditors (partners, managers, seniors) and 22 specialists (tax, IT, valuation, and forensic), examines auditors’ and specialists’ views about the current state of specialist use, sources of conflict, auditors’ confidence in their ability to perform specialist work, firm policies, and future expectations about utilization of specialist services. Findings indicate that both auditors and specialists are dissatisfied with the current situation, but for different reasons. Auditors and specialists disagree on how firm policies influence the use of specialists and how policies are applied. Cost appears to be a key factor in determining whether and the extent to which specialists are utilized in an audit, although the approaches to specialist use differ by phase of the audit and by type of specialist. Overconfidence on the part of the audit team may lead it to limit the extent of specialist involvement. Budget overruns and audit delays can result from specialist involvement, although views on who is to blame for these vary. There are also conflicting views on the effectiveness of audit team supervision of specialists. In addition to discussion of areas of agreement and disagreement between and within the auditor and specialist groups, avenues for future research on utilization of specialists on audit engagements are proposed.
Keywords: specialist, expert, use of specialists in an audit, use of experts in an audit, qualitative study, content analysis, auditing
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