An audit senior is responsible for supervising audit engagements by way of planning, directing, executing and completing the audit of the relevant financial statements. This means that an audit senior is responsible for reviewing and supervising the work being conducted by the staff accountants involved with a given engagement. An audit senior can be tasked with overseeing more than one engagement at a given time.
A staff accountant, on the other hand, is tasked with working on one engagement at a given time. They are usually responsible for performing straightforward portions of the audit. A staff accountant is usually left to complete their assignment within the stipulated time, but they may also have some client interaction.
Both roles are important since they assist in the performance of a comprehensive and quality audit. The role of an audit senior is more stressful compared to that of a staff accountant since there are more responsibilities involved.
If I learned that Carl Wilmeth would be working with me on the Altamesa audit engagement, I would have handled the situation differently. To begin with, I would be careful with the assignments that I give Carl given his professional inexperience and reputation. I would also pay close attention to what he does on a daily basis and try to provide the desired direction as a result. Holding a meeting with the audit engagement team to remind them of their responsibilities would be paramount too.
Among the ways to assess that Carl is not completing his assignments is by checking the time spent in these assignments. When Carl completed an assignment that was allocated 100 hours in 60 hours, this is one area that presents a red flag since 110 hours had been required to complete the same assignment the previous year. Given this fact, I would contact the senior auditors that had been responsible for supervising Carl and ask whether they had any evidence of Carl neglecting some of the activities in the assigned tasks. Contacting Jack Morrison and letting him know the situation I am facing would be prudent too as he will advise on the way forward.
Yes, I have a professional responsibility to raise the matter with Morrison regarding the suspicions that Carl is not completing all his assigned procedures. An auditor is expected to exercise due professional care while performing his/her duties. Failure to inform Jack on my suspicion would come out as negligence since I am not practicing due professional care. Carl’s actions might have material negative effects on the audit engagement, and it would therefore be prudent if Jack had an idea of what was going on to help check his work thoroughly.
If I were Jack Morrison, I would have taken the issue seriously given that the concern was coming from an audit senior. The audit senior has a professional responsibility to inform the partners their concerns regarding a given engagement. Morrison ought to investigate the matter by reviewing closely the work executed by Carl. It is upon Morrison to institute relevant tests that would help in shedding light on this issue.
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