Auditors are required to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence on the appropriateness of management's use of the going concern basis of accounting, and to conclude whether a material uncertainty exists about the entity's ability to continue as a going concern. Auditors are also required to remain alert throughout the audit for evidence that there may be a going concern issue.
Several high-profile corporate failures in recent years have sparked a public debate about auditors' responsibilities. Users have raised questions about how much auditors should be able to detect from their audit procedures regarding the going concern of the entity, and what is communicated to users about the entity's ability to continue as a going concern for the foreseeable future. This led to a project to revise Canadian Auditing Standard (CAS) 570, Going Concern.
The objectives of the project are as follows:
- Emphasize the going concern aspects of the auditor’s understanding of the entity and its system of internal control in risk assessment.
- Enhance the auditor’s evaluation of the reasonableness of management’s assessment period.
- Consider extending the timeline for the assessment period to at least 12 months from the date of approval of the financial statements, or the date the auditor’s report is signed.
- Consider defining “material uncertainty related to going concern (MURGC)” in alignment with financial reporting frameworks and auditing standards.
- Emphasize the robust exercise of professional skepticism when performing procedures related to going concern.
- Strengthen communications with those charged with governance.
- Enhance the auditor’s communications with external parties, including regulators, when issues are identified relating to going concern.
- Enhance transparency in the auditor’s report about the auditor’s responsibilities and work related to going concern, for situations where:
- the auditor concludes that no material uncertainty exists;
- significant judgment was required to conclude that no material uncertainty related to going concern exists (i.e., “close call” situations); or
- a MURGC paragraph is required.