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Professional scepticism

Critical and central to all audits, professional scepticism is a topic that is heavily debated within and outside the accountancy profession. These resources are intended to help auditors in applying and demonstrating a sceptical mind set in their audits, as well as move the debate forwards.

Progressing the debate

Scepticism: the practitioner’s take

How can scepticism be improved? Based on a series of interviews with practitioners, we get their take on what needs to be done to enhance scepticism, including key takeaways and a challenge to other stakeholders to do more to help.

Featured articles

Practical guidance and training tools


Documentation of significant professional judgements in an ISA audit

There are many documentation requirements in International Standards on Auditing but the extent of documentation of judgement is a particularly critical area for auditors. This guide helps auditors understand why professional judgement is important and the extent to which they need to document it.

Management override in an ISA audit

The term “management override” refers to the ability of management and/or those charged with governance to manipulate accounting records and prepare fraudulent financial statements by overriding these controls, even where the controls might otherwise appear to be operating effectively. This guide looks at how auditors assess the risk of management override and their response to it.


The importance of scepticism
This webinar looks at the consequences of a lack of scepticism in audits. It covers:

  • Where (and when) does scepticism start and finish?
  • What does scepticism look like?
  • Why do we need scepticism?
  • How do we demonstrate scepticism?

Professional scepticism – what it means for auditors in practice
Do you (or your staff) always challenge as robustly as you could or do you find yourself looking for evidence to support what management is telling you? This webinar covers the main issues connected with professional scepticism that must be addressed by audit firms and their staff. It also suggests ways to encourage, develop and maintain scepticism in practice. The webinar also addresses the issue of properly demonstrating your deployment of scepticism throughout your work in your audit documentation.

Current challenges for auditors and how they can demonstrate their value 
This webinar covers the main technical and practical issues faced by firms in seeking to carry out quality audits in the current environment that meet the expectations of users, policy makers and regulators. 

Practising ethics webinars
Practising Ethics webinars are designed for ACA students to watch when they have completed each module of the Ethics Learning Programme. Each webinar complements the Ethics Learning Programme modules and has been designed to develop ethics and professional scepticism skills within the workplace.

ICAEW pep talks
A series of pep talks to help support ACA students on everything from developing assertiveness to adding value in the workplace. Perfect if you’ve got a spare 10 minutes; whether you’re waiting for a bus, about to go in to an important meeting, or simply need a boost.

ICAEW training films

Our training films, False Assurance and Without Question provoke discussions and challenge mindsets about how to deal with difficult decisions and topical issues in business situations.

Find out how ICAEW training films can help develop auditors’ scepticism skills. 


Professional scepticism videos 
Ten short videos designed to be relevant to auditors from all sizes of firm, at any stage in their careers, undertaking a wide variety of audit work, including: 

  • professional scepticism and its application;
  • audit planning;
  • documentation;
  • training and development needs; and
  • best practice for group audits.

What are standard setters doing about it?

IESBA consultation paper: Professional Skepticism – meeting public expectations
The paper explores behavioural characteristics of scepticism, whether all professional accountants should apply these and whether the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants should be further developed to address behaviours associated with the exercise of appropriate professional scepticism.

IESBA Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence standards)
Includes new guidance to emphasise the importance of understanding facts and circumstances when exercising professional judgment and new guidance to explain how compliance with the fundamental principles supports the exercise of professional scepticism in an audit or other assurance engagements.

Toward enhanced professional scepticism
This publication outlines observations about the current environment and sets out actions the global standard-setting boards will take, as well as the role that other stakeholders can play, in enhancing professional scepticism.

IAASB Working Group on Professional Scepticism 
Papers, discussion and information from IAASB’s Working Group. 

IAASB’s Invitation to Comment: Enhancing audit quality in the public interest 
A focus on professional scepticism, quality control and group audits.  

Other resources

Industry guides
Do you need to find industry specific information for a client or to gain an understanding of a new market for business? ICAEW members and students can use the Library & Information Service guides to help kick-start their search. 

Company research
Keep up-to-date with the latest information on your client’s industry, competitors and markets.