Is the time right for a new audit qualification?

Anyone who signs off on the financial health of a UK company should have to sit a new professional audit qualification, after they have passed their accountancy qualification.

That is what Sir Donald Brydon said in the latest independent report on improving the quality and effectiveness of audit.

Sir Donald said it was a “startling discovery to me that there was not an audit profession as a standalone entity.”

He went on to explain that the qualities you need to be an auditor are quite different to those you need to be an accountant!

So, who should have this audit qualification? Well, Sir Donald said anyone with responsibility for looking into a company’s accounts and then signing them off as safe would be included. This includes cyber-security professionals and those assessing the company’s environmental footprint.

He believes that a new regulator should train and approve this new class of auditors.

In a BBC Radio 4 Today interview he stressed he didn’t want any changes to increase the cost of audit. He also stressed that current auditors have not lost their moral compass…that’s good to hear!

The ACCA’s Maggie McGhee said that throughout Sir Donald’s timely review, ACCA has clarified the primary beneficiary of audit should remain the investor, and that change is needed in the audit sector for it to evolve sufficiently.