I had an interesting conversation today with an auditor. I asked him why auditors don’t see the blindingly obvious, why they don’t dig into problems, why they are so easily hoodwinked, (go on, admit it, you have pulled the wool over an auditors eyes), why they are, frankly, so stupid. I didn’t put it quite that way, but I have a fairly strong opinion here.
His response? Auditors have to confirm that an entity’s financial statements are free of material misstatements, that they are a fair representation. This is not the same as them being factually correct.
The trick to being a good auditor is to minimise the risk that the accounts are wrong, not to prove that they are categorically correct. Or to put it another way do the minimum amount of work possible without getting sued. (My words not his).
Now I have had it explained to me, I understand.
It reminds me of a quote by Sir William Osler
“The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.”
It doesn’t reflect well on me, but then I am sure I am not the only one.