Maandblad Voor Accountancy en Bedrijfseconomie 90(12): 580-613, doi: 10.5117/mab.90.31228
The relationship between key audit matters in the new auditor's report and the risks reported in the management report and the estimates and judgments in the notes to the financial statements
expand article infoArjan Brouwer, Peter Eimers, Henk Langendijk
Open Access
For decades, auditors have communicated their opinion on financial statements with standard wordings in the auditor’s report. However, stakeholders expect more information from the auditor. The limited transparency regarding an auditor’s actual activities, has contributed to the dissatisfaction concerning the functioning of auditors. The new (extended) auditor’s report is an answer to the information needs of stakeholders. The key audit matters reported by the auditor provide new insights to financial statement users with respect to significant estimates and risks reported in the financial statements. It may be expected from the auditor that he pays extra attention to the most significant estimates and risks. This article contains an examination of the degree to which reported key audit matters match with the significant risks presented in the directors’ reports, and with the significant accounting policies and estimates in the notes. We have studied management reports, financial statements and auditor’s reports of 50 companies listed in the Netherlands (at the AEX and Midkap index) in 2015. Our study shows that the key audit matters in the new auditor’s report often correspond with the significant accounting policies and estimates as they are reported by management in the notes. However, only in ten percent of the cases, the risks presented in the directors’ reports are mentioned as key audit matters in the new auditor’s report. Auditors have a strong focus on balance sheet items as key audit matters. Many companies recognize the riskiness of issues like reliability and continuity of IT systems and complying with regulation, but these are hardly mentioned as key audit matters. This is also a general finding of our study for issues related to the internal controls of the audited companies.