Joint audit – duplication or two pairs of eyes?

BRUSSELS is pushing joint audit hard, and mid-tier firms agree the proposed reform would help break open the market, especially for large public-interest entities.

Detractors argue the costs would far outweigh the benefits, with audit quality threatened by issues falling through the gaps between two firms and fees climbing.

Architect of the proposals, internal markets commissioner Michel Barnier, said shared audit would have the advantage of “two pairs of eyes”, and denied the process would lead to the doubling up of work.

Surely this is a contradiction in terms? Either two sets of auditors provide assurance on the same part of the audit, or they split the work to avoid duplication.

Barnier cannot have it both ways. If he is imagining two auditors survey certain key parts of the audit and divide the rest, this should be explicitly outlined. Which areas would merit two pairs of eyes, and who gets to decide?

More details please, Brussels.

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