An Analysis of Key Audit Matters in Auditors Report on Listed Danish Banks

Pernille Dalsgaard Winther

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The subject of this thesis is: ”Independent auditor’s report” and the first year of applying ISA 701”. The aim of the present investigation is to establish, whether auditors in Denmark – after the first year of implementing ISA 701 - have succeeded in complying with the audit standard in relation to the description of Key Audit Matters (KAM). The aim of the thesis is to shed light on the following research questions: “What is selected players’ attitude to the suggestion from IAASB to add the section “Key Audit Matters” to Independent Auditor’s Report? And has the implementation of “Key Audit Matters” resulted in transparency and increased communication value in independent auditor’s reports, which was the overriding purpose of ISA 701, in the case of Danish listed banks?” I have answered these research questions, first by explaining selected audit theories e.g. illuminating auditor’s role or dealing with the expectation, comprehension and information gap. Next, by looking into international key players’ hearing statements - from the first as well as the second round of hearings - to the suggestion from IAASB about adding KAM to independent auditor’s report. Based on scrutiny of selected hearing statements, I constructed the eight hypotheses constituting the foundation of my analysis. There are quantitative as well as qualitative hypotheses. During the analysis, hypotheses were confirmed or dismissed, enabling me to answer the research questions of the thesis. Method In order to answer the research questions of the thesis, I have in particular applied qualitative document analysis. The document analysis consisted of a hypothetical-deductive analysis of the content of auditor’s report regarding Danish listed banks. As I had defined a number of variables (my hypotheses) in advance, I consider the analysis form a hypothetical-deductive one. Findings The prevailing attitudes among the key players were positive in relation to adding KAM to independent auditor’s report, in an attempt to increase the communication value for the users of financial statements. There were, however, many different positions regarding the content of KAM and how to devise them. In addition, many different perspectives were expressed, e.g. instructions to auditors, minimizing theoretical gaps, as well as subjective assessments and previous experiences of auditors. Based on the content of selected hearing statements, I constructed and analyzed eight hypotheses. The results of the analysis revealed that the number of set KAM did not vary within the selected trade, the same KAM were established in connection with all audits, and the length of the description of KAM did not vary within each accountant firm. Furthermore, the analysis indicated that content and wording in the description of KAM and the accompanying procedures, did not vary neither within each accounting firm nor between the accounting firms, and it was obvious that the accounting firms had dealt with KAM by getting support from each other. Based on the 3 analysis revealing results with very little variation – in reality close to a factual template - it is my assessment that the information gap had not been minimized, and neither had the expectation and comprehension gap, and as a consequence, the aim of ISA 701 had not been achieved after one year of implementation.

EducationsMSc in Auditing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2018
Number of pages88