It's been almost a year now since I went for training on these standards, and I've done many audits under the new standards. I also discuss them with colleagues at other firms from time to time. This is what I think about them:
- Overall, the intention behind them is good.
- Practically speaking, it can be overkill on very small companies. I have a franchisor client who as of the most recent financial statement had sold 2 franchises. She issues maybe 5 checks a month, and makes maybe 3, at the most, deposits a month. I can examine/audit every transaction in less than an hour. Yet I am supposed to, amongst other things, have a detailed discussion on fraud risks with her (ok that was SAS 99 which is more than 2 years old), examine all of her systems and controls (it's just her - she doesn't have or need any), link financial statement assertions to various risks and more. It is just overkill.
- It can be very confusing.
At the end of the day, my concern is whether the financial statements are fairly presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. I, as an auditor, need some leeway in determining how I get to that opinion. I'm hoping the Auditing Standards Board realizes this sometime soon.