Auditors press for bank haste

Company audits could be qualified because banks are failing to respond with enough speed and accuracy to requests from auditors about their clients.

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The ICAEW, as part of accountancy’s umbrella body the CCAB, has joined in urgent talks with the British Bankers Association to solve the problem which is causing anxiety among auditors.

BBA executive director Paul Chisnall admitted that requests from auditors do ‘go astray’, and delays in the process could lead to qualified audits. But he denied there was a ‘fundamental problem’ with the process and urged accountants to understand that banks have to deal with hundreds of thousands of such requests a year.

The BBA is holding preliminary talks with the CCAB to seek improvements to the process, as part of a periodic review of their relationship.

‘The institute is looking into what can and should be done about the issue,’ said an ICAEW spokeswoman.

Gareth Jones, director of business assurance at Chantrey Vellacott, argued that accountants were ‘doing their bit’ in making requests for client information from banks in good time, but dealings with banks had worsened.

‘It’s a daily nightmare,’ said Jones. ‘Our admin guys are chasing banks but they’re either too lazy to get the information through, or asking us for our client’s bank accounts, which defeats the purpose of the request.’

Auditors are expected to request client information from banks no fewer than 14 days in advance of the audit confirmation date, according to Auditing Practices Board practice note 16.

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