AN APPRAISAL OF THE USEFULNESS OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF EXTERNAL AUDITORS IN THE PREPARATION OF OBJECTIVE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
(A CASE STUDY OF SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY)
The aim of this project is to dial on the issue of external auditors independence, which has been a major concern of various financial information users and external auditors. This research work will lay emphasis on advisory role of external auditors on general business commitment, which will come in the form of preparation of accounts, advice on tax issue and the provision of other business services. It will also be aimed at ensuring that auditors come to know those factors (threats) that may term –paper with integrity and avoid them.The Researcher hope to study on selected professional accounting firms and manufacturing firms in Imo State.Questionnaires and personal Interviews will serve as primary sources of data while library, journal and already made project will serve as secondary source of data.
TABLE OF CONTENT
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Statement of problem
1.3 Purpose of study
1.4 Research Hypothesis
1.5 Significance of the study
1.6 Operational Definition of terms
1.7 Limitation of the study
1.8 Organisation of the study
2.1 Development of Auditing
2.2 Nature of Auditing and Auditing Independence.
2.3 Auditors independence and Company Acts/Decrees
2.4 Independence and company Act, 1968
2.5 Independence and company Act and Allied matters decree 1990
2.6 Audit Committee and independence
2.7 Professional Bodies and independence
2.8 Professional Ethics and Independence
2.9 Threats to External Auditors Independence.
2.10 Ways of improving Auditors Independence
2.11 Users of financial statement and the reporters (Auditors) independence
2.12 Auditors liability and independence.
3.1 Scope of study
3.2 Selection of Data
3.3 Collection of data
3.4 Design and Administration of Questionnaires
3.5 Sample size determination
3.6 Sampling technique
3.7 Operational measure of variables
3.8 Data Analysis techniques
Presentation and Analysis of Data
4.1 Analysis of Data
4.2 Testing of Hypothesis
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Recent studies into causes of most business failures revealed that such failures result from reliance on inaccurate financial reports by external auditors, which is consequent upon the reliability of the external auditor to separate himself both physically and mentally from the client company. In the words of Midgley (1994:9) “most of the inquest into major auditing failures of the last ten years or so have involved searching questions about independence of auditors”.
A general understanding of the nature of external audit, the legal and regulatory frame work applicable to the auditor and the auditors client comply with this frame work will reveal that the external auditor is in a better position to recognize non- compliance that may cause the company to cease its operations. This, the external auditor can do only if he is independenct.
Clients patronage is now a sensitive one to an external auditor. Years back, Shell production development companies did not bother much about retaining existing clients coming into the company and competition for new existing clients were minimal. Today, however the case is different. The number of shell production development companies have multiplied clients are more sophisticated and they consistently demand higher level of quality service each years.
We cannot overlook the importance of objective technical information in the survival of the company both big and small. According to Asechemic (1994:6), information is the impression about the form or condition of an object or knowledge created upon the apprehending mind to bring about a state of knowledge, certain or uncertain: information as an important component that leads to social, economic and political development of a society, needs to be regulated especially those that are technical in nature so as to deduce relevant information. Lee (1982:1) observed that “the complexity of an economic structure regulates the type and amount of information which flows through the system. The utility of such information depends not so much on its volume as its quality. The users must be confident of its reliability and credibility”. This quality basically explained the importance of independence of external auditors. Midgley (1994:9) noted that “independence is the central focus of objectivity”. He further noted that “the value of the audit depends to a large degree on public confidence and so it is a fundamental principle that the auditor should not only be, but be seen to be independence (Midgley 1994:9). It is apparently clear that the degree of confidence held by the public on the auditors to a large extent on the auditors independence.
In addressing the issue of public confidence Lee(1952:88) noted that “ the degree of confidence held in that auditors opinion (and in the annual technical report he is attesting) by the shareholders and other users of the petroleum products varies directly with the ability, physically and mentally, to disregard and to disassociate himself from the client company and its management”.
It is obvious that there is the need for external auditors independence for this independence to be well , be identified so that external auditors will be abreast with the effect of such threat to their audit functions.
It is important to note that the ability of the external auditor to be independent is a part of requirement of the audit function. Hall(1983:30) identified curiosity as an innate quality of an external auditor. He Suggested that “sence” of curiosity may be akin to skepticism. An auditor, it has been said, should be skeptical but suspicious”. The ability of an external auditor to be skeptical enables the auditor to be objective in his audit functions.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Corporate organizations in recent times had faced a lot of impediments. Some of these impediments are traceable to the doubt about the usefulness of external auditors independence, as affecting objective reporting has been looked into by previous researchers.
Whitington (1995:66) noted that “certified public petrol dealers perform a host of services in which the client is the major beneficiary. Such as management consulting, tax and petroleum services. Such as review of technical functions are no substitute for any audit as noted by many researchers. The above function rather impair auditors independence often times. Some of the areas that are sparsely looked into by researchers are conflict between external auditors and clients, audit fees, expression of opinion and personal relationship between both parties.
The empirical evidence to the problem under study can be found in the recent bank distress that arise after these banks technical reports were adjusted by the external auditors as giving a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the banks.
In the words of Ovuarie (1993: 3). “Instance abound where supposedly reputable companies of Engineers acting as external auditors have deliberately mislied the public by vouching for good technical health of some petroleum companies that subsequently collapsed. He was of the view that auditors of Shell companies should be held responsible for their collapse.
1.2.1 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
To guide the researcher in the cause of the study, attempt will be made to answer the following questions.
Are external auditors truly independence
Is auditor’s independence necessary for objective audit report?
Is there any relationship between thhe external auditors opinion and the audit fee
Is there any relationship between opinion expressed by external auditors and social familiarity with their client.
Has conflict between external auditors and clients any significant effect on external auditors opinion?
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The objectives which the researcher seeks to achieve from this research work includes:
- To X-ray the extent to which auditors are independent.
- To evaluate the usefulness of external auditors independence.
- To study those factors which impair auditors independence.
- To advise auditors on the best ways to avoid these impediments.
- To educate users of technical report on their right as regards to the unfaithfulness of external auditors when they fail to be independent.
- To encourage auditors, to ensure that they are independent and as such guarantee reliability to audited financial report on petroleum products by the users of the statement and.
- To add to the already existing general knowledge about auditors opinion and their objectivity.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The following hypotheses were postulated as a guide to the researcher.
H0 - External auditors are not truly independent
H02 - External auditors independence is not necessary for objective audit report.
H03 - Audit fee social familiarity of the auditors with the clients and conflict between external auditors and the clients affect the external auditors opinion.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY.
It is expected that at the end of this study, auditors clients and users of financial statements will come to understand the importance of auditors independence to the audit function. There are various types of threat identified by the researcher and will be studied to enable the auditors to realize and understand ways of handling situations that may influence their independence. The external auditors will conduct this study to reduce these threats and make the auditors clients and users of petroleum financial statement to appreciate the importance of adjective financial report.
The external auditor through this study stands to understand the effects of these threats and how they can be avoided, the companies too will promote effective technical decisions and growth, the users of technical information are at advantage since they can rely on a credible information that is based on “solid and sound independence”.
For accounting students, who are the future auditors, it will create an understanding of the importance of independence to the audit function.
In general, the study will add to the existing knowledge about the topic since it is an indebt analysis of the problem under study.
1.6 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following operational terms are defined as they apply to this study only.
This is the state of mind characterized by objectivity and integrity, it explains a state of mind in which one is not controlled or influenced by another.
This is the state of being correct, what is said to be and what is considered worthy of belief.
Person authorized by law (statutes) to examine an account of the company to establish their consistency with the companies transaction and conformity, with approved audit standards. He is entitled to make an opinion as to the “true and fairness” of the account.
A person who uses the services of a professional person or organization.
A feeling or belief that one can firmly trust or rely on something that is said, reported election.
A situation of being in opposition or disagreement about opinion.
View, belief and judgment of professional estimate or advice on a corporate financial statement. It is also called annual accounts in many parts of the study.
This is an accumulation of and evaluation of an organization books or records in order to ascertain compliance with established statements of accounting reporting.
These are conjectural statements tentative propositions that are given to explain the facts that are causing a problem.
The answerability of an employee or a public servant, it shows the liability for one’s action and behaviors.
1.7 ORGANISATION OF THE STUDY
For the purpose of analytic appraisal and presentation of ideas, data and facts of the subject matter, this work will be arranged in an orderly manner. To achieve this, this work will be broken into five chapters.
Chapter one deals with the introduction (proper), which discusses the statements of the problem. The research question, research hypothesis, and significance of the study, definition of operational terms and the limitation of the study closely follow this. This chapter is concluded finally with an indicator on how the work has been organized and references of quotes literatures or books.
Chapter two of this work will look in to review of related literatures by other researchers on the subjects matter under study. The researcher will make effort to look into the subheads as outlined in the table of content at the beginning of this work.
Chapter three of this research work deals with research methodology and procedures employed in the research. Also, chapter four deals with presentation and analysis of data that is primary and or secondary data. The hypothesis stated in chapter one are to be tested to determine the validity or otherwise. In weighing the views of respondents, the researcher is likely going to adopt chi-square and or t-test which ever is appropriate, the result of the findings will also be stated clearly in this chapter.
Finally, chapter five also the last chapter will summarize the research work and findings, conclusion and recommendations by the researcher.
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