The Financial Reporting Council, in its 2014/15 Report on Audit Quality Inspections, identified a common problem with audit quality, identified in many audit firm inspections as:
"Insufficient scepticism in challenging the appropriateness of assumptions in key areas of audit judgment such as impairment testing and property valuations."
The application of professional scepticism is an extremely important issue, it being a behaviour that should underpin the actions of auditors in every audit engagement, and a specific requirement of International Standards on Auditing. However, it is notoriously difficult to "prove" that an auditor has been sufficiently sceptical, and most auditor training does not really cover the necessary skills. Auditors need to embrace softer-skills training, encompassing matters such effective communication skills and assertiveness as well as developing an audit culture which encourages sceptical behaviours. All of this may seem at odds with the complexities of the technical accounting issues which auditors must also grasp but audit firms must embrace the need for scepticism and be confident to document their application of scepticism in order to perform a quality audit.
Lisa Weaver has recently launched her new course, Professional Scepticism