At this stage, it must be clear that the objective of an audit of financial statements is to enable an auditor to express an opinion on such financial statements. In fact, it is the auditor’s opinion which helps determination of the true and fair view of the financial position and operating results of an enterprise. It is very significant to note that the AAS-2 makes it a subtle point that such an opinion expressed by the auditor is neither an assurance as to the future viability of the enterprise nor the efficiency or effectiveness with which management has conducted affairs of the enterprise.
Further, the process of auditing is such that it suffers from certain inherent limitations, i.e., the limitation which cannot be overcome irrespective of the nature and extent of audit procedures. It is very important to understand
these inherent limitations of an audit since understanding of the same would only provide clarity as to the overall objectives of an audit. The inherent limitations are :
- First of all, auditor’s work involves exercise of judgment, for example, in deciding the extent of audit procedures and in assessing the reasonableness of the judgment and estimates made by the management in preparing the financial statements. Further much of the evidence available to the auditor can enable him to draw only reasonable conclusions therefrom. The audit evidence obtained by an auditor is generally persuasive in nature rather than conclusive in nature. Because of these factors, the auditor can only express an opinion. Therefore, absolute certainty in auditing is rarely attainable. There is also likelyhood that some material misstatements of the financial information resulting from fraud or error, if either exists, may not be detected.
- The entire audit process is generally dependent upon the existence of an effective system of internal control. Further, it is clearly evident that there always be some risk of an internal control system failing to operate as designed. No doubt, internal control system also suffers from certain inherent limitations. Any system of internal control may be ineffective against fraud involving collusion among employees or fraud committed by management. Certain levels of management may be in a position to override controls; for example, by directing subordinates to record transactions incorrectly or to conceal them, or by suppressing information relating to transactions. Such inherent limitations of internal control system also contribute to inherent limitations of an