Audit working papers are those documents that are prepared or obtained by the auditor during the course of the audit and retained in connection with the audit these documents contain essential facts about accounts and records which are under audit these documents constitute a link between the auditor’s report and the client’s accounts or record.
They cover overall activities of audit i.e. from audit plan to audit conclusion stages for providing an overall understanding of the audit let’s discuss the concept of audit working papers in detail Audit Working Papers should show how an auditor reaches this audit conclusion from the client’s records and get the reasonable assurance to provide audit opinion, therefore, audit working papers should constitute a link between clients records and auditors conclusion drawn by the auditor on each audit area.
An auditor applies these defined all the procedures on the documents obtained from the client or documents prepared by the auditor. Out of these documents whatever documents the auditor retains for audit those documents are called audit working papers.
these audit working papers are the basis for audit conclusion made by the auditor audit working papers should support reasonable assurance obtained by the auditor from the audit procedures based on the reasonable assurance order to express his audit opinion audit working papers should be sufficient enough to support the audit opinion provided by the auditor.
Purpose of Audit Working Papers
The primary purposes of audit working papers include:
Support for the Auditor’s Opinion
Working papers provide the primary evidence that supports the auditor’s conclusions and opinions on the financial statements. They form the basis upon which the auditor decides whether the financial statements give an accurate and fair view.
Documentation of Work Performed
The working papers record the audit procedures, the evidence obtained, and the basis for the auditor’s conclusions. This includes documenting exceptions or matters that might be unusual and how the auditor addressed them.
Planning and Conducting the Audit
Working papers can benefit auditors when planning and performing current-year audits by providing insights and references to how certain matters were handled in previous years.
Quality Control and Review
The working papers serve as evidence for internal or external reviewers to ensure that the audit has been conducted according to relevant auditing standards and that the conclusions are supported by appropriate evidence. They assist in ensuring that the audit has achieved its objectives and that quality has been maintained.
Training and Supervision
Working papers help coordinate efforts for larger audit teams. They also serve as a learning tool for junior members, helping them understand the audit process, the client’s business, and the rationale behind specific audit procedures.
Protection Against Litigation
In the event of a dispute or legal action, working papers can provide evidence of the work done by the auditor and the judgments made. They serve as a defense tool to demonstrate that the auditor acted competently and diligently.
Regulatory and Oversight Compliance
Certain regulatory bodies may require auditors to provide working papers to demonstrate compliance with applicable standards and regulations. The working papers can be reviewed as part of a regulatory inspection.
In situations where there’s a change in the audit team or when the engagement is handed over to a new audit firm, working papers play a crucial role in transferring knowledge about the audited entity and the procedures performed in the past.
Continuity of Audit Procedures
Working papers ensure the consistency and continuity of audit procedures over consecutive periods.
Audit working papers need to be detailed, clear, and organized. They should provide a clear trail from the initial audit plan, through the work done, to the conclusions drawn so that an experienced auditor with no previous knowledge of the audit can understand the work performed and the decisions made.