5 Public Accountants’ licence were suspended or cancelled

What happened?
ACRA, the independent regulator of auditors in Singapore, conducted a “test” on 110 of the total 780 public accountants from April 2005 to March 2007.

On Jul 25, 2007, ACRA has for the first time released the “report card” on the state of auditing profession in Singapore. The results are as follow:-

  • One third of the 110 received a ‘good’ rating.
  • Another third were rated ‘satisfactory’
  • The remaining third, or 36 accountants, were asked to undergo remedial action.
  • The special 5 got their licence suspended or cancelled.

What are the areas of weakness?

ACRA deputy chief Mr Ow Fook Chuen listed the common boo-boos as follow:-

  • Inadequate documentation of audit opinions.
  • Lack of follow-up on subsequent events up to the date of the audit report. [Why the need to follow up? These events may materially affect the financial statements and the validity of the audit opinion.]
  • Audit procedures were conveniently updated as ‘noted’ or ‘done’ without actual audit work or assessments being carried out. [While corners were being cut, clients still got charged. Or the other way round where clients want to lower audit fees and thus the corners cut.]
  • Insufficient inventory count procedures eg. no physical count procedures.
  • Some also blindly and recklessly relied on the audited financial statements by the auditors of overseas subsidiaries without considering their competence.

Edgar’s words of wisdom (ha!)

A second round with wider coverage is expected to be completed in 2011. Hmm… isn’t it a wee bit too long for the next report card in the current dynamic world?

To hasten the process of quality renaissance, should we do with public accountants what we did to hawkers in Singapore ie. force them to display their “A” or “B” or “C” licence? As hawkers’ hygiene in food preparation has public implication, likewise the quality of work of auditors too has significant public implications.

So ACRA what say you?

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