Why Do Auditors Fail To Detect Fraud?

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WHY DO AUDITORS FAIL TODETECT FRAUD? Stephen Kwaku Asare, University of FloridaThe views expressed in these slides are solely the views of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the PCAOB, the members of the Board, or the Board's staff.The PCAOB makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of this information.

Overview4-FactorFrameworkKnowledge,Training andExperienceneeded forFraudDetectionPractical TipsConsultationDualStrategy

4-Factor FrameworkThe ditors’ KTE the methodology employed to search for and detectfraud. includes the regulatory and legal environment include the financial and retention pressures faced bythe auditor includes the auditors’ cumulative fraud knowledgeand experience acquired through both formal andinformal learning.

4-Factor Framework

4-Factor FrameworkIn a recent study, we obtain experiential basedevidence on why auditors rarely detect fraudsfrom fraud examiners (Asare, Wright andZimmerman 2014, JFIA). Fraud examiners routinely make causal attributions for an auditfailure that they are investigating, which requires them to focus on the effectiveness of the audit process, the adequacy of the auditors’ fraud knowledge or training, the extent to which an auditor following audit standards couldhave detected the fraud and the role of auditors’ incentives.

4-Factor FrameworkAudit Process failing to effectively assess management’s incentives and opportunities; Failing to sufficiently modify audit tests as the primary drivers of auditfailures.Knowledge, training and experience Insufficient or Inadequate training; Lack knowledge of fraud schemes; and Undue trust in management.Institutional Factors They perceive GAAS audits as not sufficiently focused on detecting fraud,as the primary institutional inhibitor of fraud detection.

Knowledge Training and ExperienceAuditors are not effectively trained to detect or recognize fraud. One expert noted that fact patterns suggesting that fraud exists (i.e., fraud schemes) areunfamiliar to many auditors because they have not been trained in this area and becausefraud is a rare event.Auditors’ lack training in fraud detection methods or fraud investigationtechniques.Auditors are in constant interactions with management and may develop trustschema that interfere with their ability to effectively process fraud cues. While professional standards highlight the importance of professional skepticism, neitherthose standards nor the academic literature have paid adequate attention to the hurdlesinherent in being skeptical of those with whom auditors regularly interact.

KTE needed for Fraud DetectionUnderstand theconditions thatallow fraud tooccurCues that signalthat such ascheme isoperatingThe way thatfrauds areperpetrated(fraud schemes)Frequency ofoccurrence offraud schemes byclient typeHow fraudschemes reflect inthe financialreporting processHow fraudstersrespond to auditinquiriesHow to testhypotheses onvarious fraudschemesHow to conductfraud interviews

Acquiring Fraud KTEWhile experience is the best teacher, auditors’experience seldom teach them fraud detection skillsFormal education and continuing professional educationprovide the avenue to acquire fraud knowledgeAlas, most auditing curricula around the country do notfocus enough on providing fraud knowledge

Practical Tips: What Will Not sis asanafterthoughtor an add onOral Auditing

Practical Tips: What Might HelpStrategic Risk Assessment (ability to identify when companies are in stressful situations)Better Analytics (better integration of operating data)Pattern Recognition (anti-line auditing)Big Data (DNA Coding)During Interaction Phase Are auditors outgunned? Victims of past misses (blackmailed?) Garden Path Verbal and Non-Verbal cues

ConsultationTransform audit engagements to involve forensic specialistsCreates a new work arrangement where the auditor is reliant ona secondary layer of expertise to fulfill a primary responsibilitywhile still retaining overall responsibility for the audit outcomeWhat task sharing, communication and coordination issues arisein this new work arrangement (Asare and Wright 2014)?

Consultation: Some Preliminary FindingsForensic specialists’ role in this work arrangement is to clarify howfraudulent transactions occur, identify idiosyncratic fraud risk andperform unique fraud procedures (such as document authenticationand entity verification).There is disagreement among auditors as to whether forensicspecialists should be involved on all audit engagements. While some auditors think it is comforting to have the forensic specialist validatetheir work, even if it leads to no changes in risks or audit procedures, others thinksuch required consultations exacerbate the “wild goose chase” effect. Nevertheless, current practice appears to require consultation in some targetsituations, including incidence of restatements, suspected fraud or scheduledconsultation (e.g., triennially for some public clients).

Consultation: Some Preliminary FindingsThe most significant challenges arise in the work arrangement whenthe forensic specialists’ task is not targeted or when there is unintendedcommunication between the forensic specialists and the clientpersonnel.auditors and forensic specialists sometimes disagree on whatconstitutes immaterial fraud risk, leading to what auditors refer to as“scope creep” or “wild goose chase.”There is also the lurking danger that auditors could use the supervisorycontrols to direct the forensic specialists to adopt a more clientperspective, with the concomitant erosion in their forensic mindset.

Dual Fraud Reduction Strategy15For ClientsFor AuditorsMake it less likely forclients to producefraudulent preauditfinancial statementsMake it more likely for auditorsto design audits that have ahigh probability of detectingintentional misstatementsMake it less likely forclients to pressure auditorto allow biased reportingMake it more likely for auditorsto resist client pressure not toprobe and report questionabletransactions

Auditors are not effectively trained to detect or recognize fraud. One expert noted that fact patterns suggesting that fraud exists (i.e., fraud schemes) are unfamiliar to many auditors because they have not been trained in this area and because fraud is a rare event. Auditors' lack training in fraud detection methods or fraud investigation

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