International standard-setters aim to increase professional skepticism

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Three international standard-setting boards for auditing, accounting ethics and accounting education issued a new publication Monday in the hopes of making accountants and auditors more skeptical of management assertions.

A joint working group with representatives from the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, and the International Accounting Education Standards Board released the new publication, Toward Enhanced Professional Skepticism. The IAASB, IESBA and the IAESB operate under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants.

The publication includes observations about the current environment for accountants and auditors, and describes the actions the boards plan to take, along with how other constituents can improve professional skepticism. It is the first ever jointly commissioned report from the three boards and includes a summary of their short-term actions, along with longer-term studies.

“When this initiative began, the boards were looking for input on whether and how each of their standards could contribute to strengthening the understanding and application of professional skepticism as it applies to an audit,” said Annette Köhler, a professor who chaired the Professional Skepticism Working Group, in a statement. “We have shared our observations and recommendations with the boards, and professional skepticism now features prominently in each of the boards’ strategic considerations.”

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