Even though they’re helpful, templates make me uneasy. There’s a fragmentation of knowledge among professionals, a trend that’s the direct result of complexity, which is the direct result of professionals. As the economy gets more tangled up, we adpat to make financial statements more relavent. So how do we cope at the professional level? We create checklists. We create templates. We create lists with checkboxes that ensure we’ve covered our bases. Is that good? Is it just a crutch?
This may surprise some of the students entering the profession, but it is possible to complete all the fieldwork on an audit, without knowing what you’re doing. Well you have to know what you’re doing – you need to understand what the audit procedures require you to do. But it is possible to perform them without a thorough understanding of the audit or its context.
Templates create a knowledge bottleneck. They put a buffer between yourself and GAAP. Where the knowledge becomes trapped at the template level. Some GAAP may trickle down, but it’ll happen passively. The most frustrating part of it all, is that it’s necessary given the current way accountants think. They think in terms of meeting criteria, instead of focusing on comprehension. Did I disclose all the related party transactions vs. why are their related party transactions in the context of this audit and what issues do they raise?
Is it really possible to conduct a risk based audit, through the use of templates, which already have a built in risk based approach? Was it really creative writing when your teacher asked you to write an essay – granted the essay had a introduction, conclusion, three body paragraphs and a thesis that was included in the last line of the introduction and reiterated in the conclusion? I doubt it.