Materiality and Audit Risk

AAS-13 on “Audit Materiality” requires that the auditor should consider materiality and its relationship with audit risk when conducting an audit. According to it, information is material if its misstatement (i.e., omission or erroneous statement) could influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of the financial information. Materiality depends on the size and nature of the item, judged in the particular circumstances of its misstatement. Thus, materiality provides a threshold or cut-off point rather than being a primary qualitative characteristic which the information must have if it is to be useful. It stresses that the assessment of what is material is a matter of professional judgement. The audit should be planned so that audit risk is kept at an acceptably low level. After the auditor has
assessed the inherent and control risks, he should consider the level of detection risk that he is prepared to accept and, based upon his judgement, select appropriate substantive audit procedures. If the auditor does not perform any substantive procedures, detection risk, that is, the risk that the auditor will fail to detect a misstatement, will be high. The auditor reduces detection risk by performing
substantive procedures – the more extensive the procedures performed, the lower the detection risk. The nature and timing of substantive procedures will also affect the detection risk, for example, confirmation with third parties will lead to lower detection risk than reliance on internal data, as will procedures carried out closer to year-end.
The auditor’s assessment of audit risk may change during the course of an audit. For example, in planning the audit, the auditor may believe that he has low inherent and control risk based on his assessment of the probability of errors occurring and on his review and testing of the system of internal control. After performing audit procedures, however, the auditor may conclude that his earlier
assessment was too low. In this case, he will have to carry out additional audit procedures in order to reduce the level of detection risk and achieve audit risk at the level originally planned.

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