Audits of financial statements and other company information (for example, internal control over financial reporting) play a critical role in society. They provide assurance to investors, lenders, donors, insurers, and other stakeholders who have minimal access and insight into the company’s finances and operations. The audit firm provides that assurance by putting the company’s information through a rigorous examination as dictated by the appropriate professional standards. As a member of the audit profession, you play a vital role in applying a skeptical mind-set to the work you perform.
We know that professional skepticism is important, foundational, and critical—and that without it, we have not performed a proper audit. But what exactly is this “mind-set of professional skepticism” and how do we know that we have it and that we are exercising it appropriately? Throughout this chapter and that of the companion module, Audit Staff Essentials New Staff: Practical Application, “Application of Professional Skepticism,” the text will present a case study approach to illustrate and delve into some of the answers to this fundamental question.