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Comparing processes in audit and assurance

There are similarities and differences between the processes used to conduct audits and other types of assurance engagement. John Ward explores the consequences.

As I said in my briefing in last month’s Audit & Beyond assurance special, assurance can seem like an amorphous range of poorly defined possibilities. However, if you are conducting an assurance engagement as defined by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Assurance Framework (the Framework), then the requirements are very clear. So if you and the client have decided that you need to conduct an assurance engagement, how do you go about doing that? Is it the same as an audit? If not, why not? What’s different? 

A good starting point is to consider the five elements of an assurance engagement. The chart below compares and contrasts audits with assurance as defined in the Framework; the differences are stark. Whereas for audits most elements are heavily defined, for assurance very little may be pre-defined. It is this lack of definition that tends to concern even experienced auditors…

This is an extract from an article in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of Audit & Beyond, the magazine of the Audit and Assurance Faculty.

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