Scope of this ISA
- This International Standard on Auditing (ISA) deals with the auditor’s responsibility to identify and assess the risks of material misstatement in the financial statements, through understanding the entity and its environment, including the entity’s internal control.
- This ISA is effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning on or after December 15, 2009.
- The objective of the auditor is to identify and assess the risks of material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, at the financial statement and assertion levels, through understanding the entity and its environment, including the entity’s internal control, thereby providing a basis for designing and implementing responses to the assessed risks of material misstatement.
- For purposes of the ISAs, the following terms have the meanings attributed below:
- Assertions – Representations by management, explicit or otherwise, that are embodied in the financial statements, as used by the auditor to consider the different types of potential misstatements that may occur.
- Business risk – A risk resulting from significant conditions, events, circumstances, actions or inactions that could adversely affect an entity’s ability to achieve its objectives and execute its strategies, or from the setting of inappropriate objectives and strategies.
- Internal control – The process designed, implemented and maintained by those charged with governance, management and other personnel to provide reasonable assurance about the achievement of an entity’s objectives with regard to reliability of financial reporting, effectiveness and efficiency of operations, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The term “controls” refers to any aspects of one or more of the components of internal control.
- Risk assessment procedures – The audit procedures performed to obtain an understanding of the entity and its environment, including the entity’s internal control, to identify and assess the risks of material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, at the financial statement and assertion levels.
- Significant risk – An identified and assessed risk of material misstatement that, in the auditor’s judgment, requires special audit consideration.
Risk Assessment Procedures and Related Activities
- The auditor shall perform risk assessment procedures to provide a basis for the identification and assessment of risks of material misstatement at the financial statement and assertion levels. Risk assessment procedures by themselves, however, do not provide sufficient appropriate audit evidence on which to base the audit opinion. (Ref: Para. A1–A5)
- The risk assessment procedures shall include the following:
- Inquiries of management, and of others within the entity who in the auditor’s judgment may have information that is likely to assist in identifying risks of material misstatement due to fraud or error. (Ref: Para. A6)
- Analytical procedures. (Ref: Para. A7–A10)
- Observation and inspection. (Ref: Para. A11)
- The auditor shall consider whether information obtained from the auditor’s client acceptance or continuance process is relevant to identifying risks of material misstatement.
- If the engagement partner has performed other engagements for the entity, the engagement partner shall consider whether information obtained is relevant to identifying risks of material misstatement.
- Where the auditor intends to use information obtained from the auditor’s previous experience with the entity and from audit procedures performed in previous audits, the auditor shall determine whether changes have occurred since the previous audit that may affect its relevance to the current audit. (Ref: Para. A12–A13)
- The engagement partner and other key engagement team members shall discuss the susceptibility of the entity’s financial statements to material misstatement, and the application of the applicable financial reporting framework to the entity’s facts and circumstances. The engagement partner shall determine which matters are to be communicated to engagement team members not involved in the discussion. (Ref: Para. A14–A16)
The Required Understanding of the Entity and Its Environment, Including the Entity’s Internal Control
The Entity and Its Environment
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of the following:
- Relevant industry, regulatory, and other external factors including the applicable financial reporting framework. (Ref: Para. A17–A22)
- The nature of the entity, including:
- its operations;
- its ownership and governance structures;
- the types of investments that the entity is making and plans to make, including investments in special-purpose entities; and (iv) the way that the entity is structured and how it is financed, to enable the auditor to understand the classes of transactions, account balances, and disclosures to be expected in the financial statements. (Ref: Para. A23–A27)
- The entity’s selection and application of accounting policies, including the reasons for changes thereto. The auditor shall evaluate whether the entity’s accounting policies are appropriate for its business and consistent with the applicable financial reporting framework and accounting policies used in the relevant industry. (Ref: Para. A28)
- The entity’s objectives and strategies, and those related business risks that may result in risks of material misstatement. (Ref: Para. A29–A35)
- The measurement and review of the entity’s financial performance.
(Ref: Para. A36–A41)
The Entity’s Internal Control
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of internal control relevant to the audit. Although most controls relevant to the audit are likely to relate to financial reporting, not all controls that relate to financial reporting are relevant to the audit. It is a matter of the auditor’s professional judgment whether a control, individually or in combination with others, is relevant to the audit. (Ref: Para. A42–A65)
Nature and Extent of the Understanding of Relevant Controls
- When obtaining an understanding of controls that are relevant to the audit, the auditor shall evaluate the design of those controls and determine whether they have been implemented, by performing procedures in addition to inquiry of the entity’s personnel. (Ref: Para. A66–A68)
Components of Internal Control
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of the control environment. As part of obtaining this understanding, the auditor shall evaluate whether:
- Management, with the oversight of those charged with governance, has created and maintained a culture of honesty and ethical behavior; and
- The strengths in the control environment elements collectively provide an appropriate foundation for the other components of internal control, and whether those other components are not undermined by deficiencies in the control environment. (Ref: Para. A69–A78)
The entity’s risk assessment process
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of whether the entity has a process for:
- Identifying business risks relevant to financial reporting objectives;
- Estimating the significance of the risks;
- Assessing the likelihood of their occurrence; and
- Deciding about actions to address those risks. (Ref: Para. A79)
- If the entity has established such a process (referred to hereafter as the “entity’s risk assessment process”), the auditor shall obtain an understanding of it, and the results thereof. If the auditor identifies risks of material misstatement that management failed to identify, the auditor shall evaluate whether there was an underlying risk of a kind that the auditor expects would have been identified by the entity’s risk assessment process. If there is such a risk, the auditor shall obtain an understanding of why that process failed to identify it, and evaluate whether the process is appropriate to its circumstances or determine if there is a significant deficiency in internal control with regard to the entity’s risk assessment process.
- If the entity has not established such a process or has an ad hoc process, the auditor shall discuss with management whether business risks relevant to financial reporting objectives have been identified and how they have been addressed. The auditor shall evaluate whether the absence of a documented risk assessment process is appropriate in the circumstances, or determine whether it represents a significant deficiency in internal control. (Ref: Para. A80)
The information system, including the related business processes, relevant to financial reporting, and communication
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of the information system, including the related business processes, relevant to financial reporting, including the following areas:
- The classes of transactions in the entity’s operations that are significant to the financial statements;
- The procedures, within both information technology (IT) and manual systems, by which those transactions are initiated, recorded, processed, corrected as necessary, transferred to the general ledger and reported in the financial statements;
- The related accounting records, supporting information and specific accounts in the financial statements that are used to initiate, record, process and report transactions; this includes the correction of incorrect information and how information is transferred to the general ledger. The records may be in either manual or electronic form;
- How the information system captures events and conditions, other than transactions, that are significant to the financial statements;
- The financial reporting process used to prepare the entity’s financial statements, including significant accounting estimates and disclosures; and
- Controls surrounding journal entries, including non-standard journal entries used to record non-recurring, unusual transactions or adjustments. (Ref: Para. A81–A85)
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of how the entity communicates financial reporting roles and responsibilities and significant matters relating to financial reporting, including: (Ref: Para. A86–A87)
- Communications between management and those charged with governance; and
- External communications, such as those with regulatory authorities.
Control activities relevant to the audit
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of control activities relevant to the audit, being those the auditor judges it necessary to understand in order to assess the risks of material misstatement at the assertion level and design further audit procedures responsive to assessed risks. An audit does not require an understanding of all the control activities related to each significant class of transactions, account balance, and disclosure in the financial statements or to every assertion relevant to them. (Ref: Para. A88–A94)
- In understanding the entity’s control activities, the auditor shall obtain an understanding of how the entity has responded to risks arising from IT. (Ref: Para. A95–A97)
Monitoring of controls
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of the major activities that the entity uses to monitor internal control over financial reporting, including those related to those control activities relevant to the audit, and how the entity initiates remedial actions to deficiencies in its controls. (Ref: Para. A98–A100)
- If the entity has an internal audit function, the auditor shall obtain an understanding of the following in order to determine whether the internal audit function is likely to be relevant to the audit:
- The nature of the internal audit function’s responsibilities and how the internal audit function fits in the entity’s organizational structure; and
- The activities performed, or to be performed, by the internal audit function. (Ref: Para. A101–A103)
- The auditor shall obtain an understanding of the sources of the information used in the entity’s monitoring activities, and the basis upon which management considers the information to be sufficiently reliable for the purpose. (Ref: Para. A104)
Identifying and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement
- The auditor shall identify and assess the risks of material misstatement at:
- the financial statement level; and (Ref: Para. A105–A108)
- the assertion level for classes of transactions, account balances, and disclosures, (Ref: Para. A109–A113)
 The term “internal audit function” is defined in ISA 610, “Using the Work of Internal Auditors,” paragraph 7(a), as: “An appraisal activity established or provided as a service to the entity. Its functions include, amongst other things, examining, evaluating and monitoring the adequacy and effectiveness of internal control.”
to provide a basis for designing and performing further audit procedures.
- For this purpose, the auditor shall:
- Identify risks throughout the process of obtaining an understanding of the entity and its environment, including relevant controls that relate to the risks, and by considering the classes of transactions, account balances, and disclosures in the financial statements; (Ref: Para. A114–A115)
- Assess the identified risks, and evaluate whether they relate more pervasively to the financial statements as a whole and potentially affect many assertions;
- Relate the identified risks to what can go wrong at the assertion level, taking account of relevant controls that the auditor intends to test; and (Ref: Para. A116–A118)
- Consider the likelihood of misstatement, including the possibility of multiple misstatements, and whether the potential misstatement is of a magnitude that could result in a material misstatement.
Risks That Require Special Audit Consideration
- As part of the risk assessment as described in paragraph 25, the auditor shall determine whether any of the risks identified are, in the auditor’s judgment, a significant risk. In exercising this judgment, the auditor shall exclude the effects of identified controls related to the risk.
- In exercising judgment as to which risks are significant risks, the auditor shall consider at least the following: (a) Whether the risk is a risk of fraud;
- Whether the risk is related to recent significant economic, accounting or other developments and, therefore, requires specific attention;
- The complexity of transactions;
- Whether the risk involves significant transactions with related parties;
- The degree of subjectivity in the measurement of financial information related to the risk, especially those measurements involving a wide range of measurement uncertainty; and
- Whether the risk involves significant transactions that are outside the normal course of business for the entity, or that otherwise appear to be unusual. (Ref: Para. A119–A123)
- If the auditor has determined that a significant risk exists, the auditor shall obtain an understanding of the entity’s controls, including control activities, relevant to that risk. (Ref: Para. A124–A126)
Risks for Which Substantive Procedures Alone Do Not Provide Sufficient Appropriate Audit Evidence
- In respect of some risks, the auditor may judge that it is not possible or practicable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence only from substantive procedures. Such risks may relate to the inaccurate or incomplete recording of routine and significant classes of transactions or account balances, the characteristics of which often permit highly automated processing with little or no manual intervention. In such cases, the entity’s controls over such risks are relevant to the audit and the auditor shall obtain an understanding of them. (Ref: Para. A127–A129)
Revision of Risk Assessment
- The auditor’s assessment of the risks of material misstatement at the assertion level may change during the course of the audit as additional audit evidence is obtained. In circumstances where the auditor obtains audit evidence from performing further audit procedures, or if new information is obtained, either of which is inconsistent with the audit evidence on which the auditor originally
based the assessment, the auditor shall revise the assessment and modify the further planned audit procedures accordingly. (Ref: Para. A130)
- The auditor shall include in the audit documentation:
- The discussion among the engagement team where required by paragraph 10, and the significant decisions reached;
- Key elements of the understanding obtained regarding each of the aspects of the entity and its environment specified in paragraph 11 and of each of the internal control components specified in paragraphs 14– 24; the sources of information from which the understanding was obtained; and the risk assessment procedures performed;
- The identified and assessed risks of material misstatement at the financial statement level and at the assertion level as required by paragraph 25; and
- The risks identified, and related controls about which the auditor has obtained an understanding, as a result of the requirements in paragraphs 27–30. (Ref: Para. A131–A134)
Application and Other Explanatory Material
Risk Assessment Procedures and Related Activities (Ref: Para. 5)
A1. Obtaining an understanding of the entity and its environment, including the entity’s internal control (referred to hereafter as an “understanding of the entity”), is a continuous, dynamic process of gathering, updating and analyzing information throughout the audit. The understanding establishes a frame of reference within which the auditor plans the audit and exercises professional judgment throughout the audit, for example, when:
- Assessing risks of material misstatement of the financial statements;
- Determining materiality in accordance with ISA 320;
- Considering the appropriateness of the selection and application of accounting policies, and the adequacy of financial statement disclosures;
- Identifying areas where special audit consideration may be necessary, for example, related party transactions, the appropriateness of management’s use of the going concern assumption, or considering the business purpose of transactions;
- Developing expectations for use when performing analytical procedures;
- Responding to the assessed risks of material misstatement, including designing and performing further audit procedures to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence; and
- Evaluating the sufficiency and appropriateness of audit evidence obtained, such as the appropriateness of assumptions and of management’s oral and written representations.
A2. Information obtained by performing risk assessment procedures and related activities may be used by the auditor as audit evidence to support assessments of the risks of material misstatement. In addition, the auditor may obtain audit evidence about classes of transactions, account balances, or disclosures, and related assertions, and about the operating effectiveness of controls, even though such procedures were not specifically planned as substantive procedures or as tests of controls. The auditor also may choose to perform substantive procedures or tests of controls concurrently with risk assessment procedures because it is efficient to do so.
A3. The auditor uses professional judgment to determine the extent of the understanding required. The auditor’s primary consideration is whether the understanding that has been obtained is sufficient to meet the objective stated in this ISA. The depth of the overall understanding that is required by the auditor is less than that possessed by management in managing the entity.
A4. The risks to be assessed include both those due to error and those due to fraud, and both are covered by this ISA. However, the significance of fraud is such that further requirements and guidance are included in ISA 240 in relation to risk assessment procedures and related activities to obtain information that is used to identify the risks of material misstatement due to fraud.
A5. Although the auditor is required to perform all the risk assessment procedures described in paragraph 6 in the course of obtaining the required understanding of the entity (see paragraphs 11–24), the auditor is not required to perform all of them for each aspect of that understanding. Other procedures may be performed where the information to be obtained therefrom may be helpful in identifying risks of material misstatement. Examples of such procedures include:
- Reviewing information obtained from external sources such as trade and economic journals; reports by analysts, banks, or rating agencies; or regulatory or financial publications.
- Making inquiries of the entity’s external legal counsel or of valuation experts that the entity has used.
Inquiries of Management and Others within the Entity (Ref: Para. 6(a))
A6. Much of the information obtained by the auditor’s inquiries is obtained from management and those responsible for financial reporting. However, the auditor may also obtain information, or a different perspective in identifying risks of material misstatement, through inquiries of others within the entity and other employees with different levels of authority. For example:
- Inquiries directed towards those charged with governance may help the auditor understand the environment in which the financial statements are prepared.
- Inquiries directed toward internal audit personnel may provide information about internal audit procedures performed during the year relating to the design and effectiveness of the entity’s internal control and whether management has satisfactorily responded to findings from those procedures.
- Inquiries of employees involved in initiating, processing or recording complex or unusual transactions may help the auditor to evaluate the appropriateness of the selection and application of certain accounting policies.
- Inquiries directed toward in-house legal counsel may provide information about such matters as litigation, compliance with laws and regulations, knowledge of fraud or suspected fraud affecting the entity, warranties, post-sales obligations, arrangements (such as joint ventures) with business partners and the meaning of contract terms.
- Inquiries directed towards marketing or sales personnel may provide information about changes in the entity’s marketing strategies, sales trends, or contractual arrangements with its customers.
Analytical Procedures (Ref: Para. 6(b))
A7. Analytical procedures performed as risk assessment procedures may identify aspects of the entity of which the auditor was unaware and may assist in assessing the risks of material misstatement in order to provide a basis for designing and implementing responses to the assessed risks. Analytical procedures performed as risk assessment procedures may include both financial and non-financial information, for example, the relationship between sales and square footage of selling space or volume of goods sold.
A8. Analytical procedures may help identify the existence of unusual transactions or events, and amounts, ratios, and trends that might indicate matters that have audit implications. Unusual or unexpected relationships that are identified may
assist the auditor in identifying risks of material misstatement, especially risks of material misstatement due to fraud.
A9. However, when such analytical procedures use data aggregated at a high level (which may be the situation with analytical procedures performed as risk assessment procedures), the results of those analytical procedures only provide a broad initial indication about whether a material misstatement may exist. Accordingly, in such cases, consideration of other information that has been gathered when identifying the risks of material misstatement together with the results of such analytical procedures may assist the auditor in understanding and evaluating the results of the analytical procedures.
Considerations Specific to Smaller Entities
A10. Some smaller entities may not have interim or monthly financial information that can be used for purposes of analytical procedures. In these circumstances, although the auditor may be able to perform limited analytical procedures for purposes of planning the audit or obtain some information through inquiry, the auditor may need to plan to perform analytical procedures to identify and assess the risks of material misstatement when an early draft of the entity’s financial statements is available.
Observation and Inspection (Ref: Para. 6(c))
A11. Observation and inspection may support inquiries of management and others, and may also provide information about the entity and its environment. Examples of such audit procedures include observation or inspection of the following:
- The entity’s operations.
- Documents (such as business plans and strategies), records, and internal control manuals.
- Reports prepared by management (such as quarterly management reports and interim financial statements) and those charged with governance (such as minutes of board of directors’ meetings).
- The entity’s premises and plant facilities.
Information Obtained in Prior Periods (Ref: Para. 9)
A12. The auditor’s previous experience with the entity and audit procedures performed in previous audits may provide the auditor with information about such matters as:
- Past misstatements and whether they were corrected on a timely basis.
- The nature of the entity and its environment, and the entity’s internal control (including deficiencies in internal control).
- Significant changes that the entity or its operations may have undergone since the prior financial period, which may assist the auditor in gaining a sufficient understanding of the entity to identify and assess risks of material misstatement.
A13. The auditor is required to determine whether information obtained in prior periods remains relevant, if the auditor intends to use that information for the purposes of the current audit. This is because changes in the control environment, for example, may affect the relevance of information obtained in the prior year. To determine whether changes have occurred that may affect the relevance of such information, the auditor may make inquiries and perform other appropriate audit procedures, such as walk-throughs of relevant systems.
Discussion among the Engagement Team (Ref: Para. 10)
A14. The discussion among the engagement team about the susceptibility of the entity’s financial statements to material misstatement:
- Provides an opportunity for more experienced engagement team members, including the engagement partner, to share their insights based on their knowledge of the entity.
- Allows the engagement team members to exchange information about the business risks to which the entity is subject and about how and where the financial statements might be susceptible to material misstatement due to fraud or error.
- Assists the engagement team members to gain a better understanding of the potential for material misstatement of the financial statements in the specific areas assigned to them, and to understand how the results of the audit procedures that they perform may affect other aspects of the audit including the decisions about the nature, timing and extent of further audit procedures.
- Provides a basis upon which engagement team members communicate and share new information obtained throughout the audit that may affect the assessment of risks of material misstatement or the audit procedures performed to address these risks.
ISA 240 provides further requirements and guidance in relation to the discussion among the engagement team about the risks of fraud.
A15. It is not always necessary or practical for the discussion to include all members in a single discussion (as, for example, in a multi-location audit), nor is it necessary for all of the members of the engagement team to be informed of all of the decisions reached in the discussion. The engagement partner may discuss matters with key members of the engagement team including, if considered appropriate, those with specific skills or knowledge, and those responsible for the audits of components, while delegating discussion with others, taking account of the extent of communication considered necessary throughout the engagement team. A communications plan, agreed by the engagement partner, may be useful.
Considerations Specific to Smaller Entities
A16. Many small audits are carried out entirely by the engagement partner (who may be a sole practitioner). In such situations, it is the engagement partner who, having personally conducted the planning of the audit, would be responsible for considering the susceptibility of the entity’s financial statements to material misstatement due to fraud or error.
The Required Understanding of the Entity and Its Environment, Including the Entity’s Internal Control The Entity and Its Environment
Industry, Regulatory and Other External Factors (Ref: Para. 11(a))
A17. Relevant industry factors include industry conditions such as the competitive environment, supplier and customer relationships, and technological developments. Examples of matters the auditor may consider include:
- The market and competition, including demand, capacity, and price competition.
- Cyclical or seasonal activity.
- Product technology relating to the entity’s products.
- Energy supply and cost.
A18. The industry in which the entity operates may give rise to specific risks of material misstatement arising from the nature of the business or the degree of regulation. For example, long-term contracts may involve significant estimates of revenues and expenses that give rise to risks of material misstatement. In such cases, it is important that the engagement team include members with sufficient relevant knowledge and experience.
A19. Relevant regulatory factors include the regulatory environment. The regulatory environment encompasses, among other matters, the applicable financial reporting framework and the legal and political environment. Examples of matters the auditor may consider include:
 ISA 230, “Audit Documentation,” paragraphs 8–11, and A6.
 ISA 320, “Materiality in Planning and Performing an Audit.”
 ISA 240, “The Auditor’s Responsibilities Relating to Fraud in an Audit of Financial Statements,” paragraphs 12–24.
 ISA 240, paragraph 15.
 ISA 220, “Quality Control for an Audit of Financial Statements,” paragraph 14.