Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The role of the external auditor in the regulation and supervision of the UK banking system

Ojo, Marianne (2007): The role of the external auditor in the regulation and supervision of the UK banking system. Published in: Journal of Corporate Ownership and Control , Vol. 5, No. 4 (May 2008)

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

The role of the external auditor in the supervisory process requires standards such as independence, objectivity and integrity to be achieved. Even though the regulator and external auditor perform similar functions, namely the verification of financial statements, they serve particular interests. The regulator works towards safeguarding financial stability and investor interests. On the other hand, the external auditor serves the private interests of the shareholders of a company. The financial audit remains an important aspect of corporate governance that makes management accountable to shareholders for its stewardship of a company. The debate surrounding the role of external auditors focusses in particular on auditor independence. A survey by the magazine “Financial Director” shows that the fees derived from audit clients in terms of non-audit services are significant in comparison with fees generated through auditing. Accounting firms sometimes engage in a practice called “low balling” whereby they set audit fees at less than the market rate and make up for the deficit by providing non audit services. As a result, some audit firms have commercial interests to protect too. There is concern that the auditor's interests to protect shareholders of a company and his commercial interests do not conflict with each other. Sufficient measures need to be in place to ensure that the external auditor's independence is not affected. As well as considering threats to auditor independence and safeguards to protect against such threats, this paper focuses on how the external auditor can assist the FSA through two of its principal regulatory tools in the FSA's response to risk, namely supervision and enforcement. A lot of work and improvements on audit independence have been carried out over the years and there should be an ongoing process of review and further efforts aimed at improvement.

Key words: Supervision, Enforcement, Independence

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