Working papers should record the audit plan, nature, timing and extent of auditing procedures performed, and the conclusions drawn from the evidence obtained. The form and content of working papers are affected by matters such as :
- Nature of the engagement.
- Form of the auditor’s report.
- Nature and complexity of the client’s business
- Nature and condition of the client’s records and degree of reliance on internal controls.
- Need in particular circumstances for direction, supervision and review of work performed by assistants.
Working papers should be designed and properly organised to meet the circumstances of each audit and the auditor’s needs in respect thereof. The standardisation of working papers (for example, checklists, specimen letters, standard organisation of working papers) improves the efficiency with which they are prepared and reviewed. It also facilitates the delegation of work while providing a means to control its quality. Working papers should be sufficiently complete and detailed for an auditor to obtain an overall understanding of the audit. The extent of the documentation is a matter of professional judgment since it is neither necessary nor practical that every observation, consideration or conclusion is documented by the auditor in his working papers.
All significant matters which require the exercise of judgment, together with the auditor’s conclusion thereon, should be included in the working papers. To improve audit efficiency, the auditor normally obtains and utilises schedules, analyses and other working papers prepared by the client. In such circumstances, the auditor should satisfy himself that these working papers have been properly prepared. Examples of such working papers are detailed analysis of important revenue accounts, receivables etc. In the case of recurring audits, some working paper files may be classified as permanent audit files which are updated currently with information of continuing importance to succeeding audit, as distinct from current audit files which contain information relating primarily to the audit of a single period.
A permanent audit file normally includes :
- Information concerning the legal and organisational structure of the entity. In the case of a company, this includes the Memorandum and Articles of Association. In the case of a statutory corporation, this includes the Act and Regulations under which the corporation functions.
- Extracts or copies of important legal documents, agreements and minutes relevant to the audit.
- A record of the study and the evaluation of the internal controls related to the accounting system. This might be in the form of narrative descriptions, questionnaires or flow charts, or some combination thereof.
- Copies of audited financial statements for previous years.
- Analysis of significant ratios and trends.
- Copies of management letters issued by the auditor, if any.
- Record of communication with the retiring auditor, if any, before acceptance of the appointment as auditor.
- Notes regarding significant accounting policies.
- Significant audit observations of earlier years.
The current file normally includes :
- Correspondence relating to acceptance of annual reappointment.
- Extracts of important matters in the minutes of Board Meetings and General Meetings as relevant to audit.
- Evidence of the planning process of the audit and audit programme.
- Analysis of transactions and balances.
- A record of the nature, timing and extent of auditing procedures performed, and the results of such procedures.
- Evidence that the work performed by assistants was supervised and reviewed.
- Copies of communication with other auditors, experts and other third parties.
- Letters of representation or confirmation received from the client.
- Conclusions reached by the auditor concerning significant aspects of the audit, including the manner in which exceptions and unusual matters, if any, disclosed by the auditor’s procedures were resolved or treated.
- Copies of the financial information being reported on and the related audit reports.