Earlier this month, the ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) declared a desire to see an open and honest debate about the quality of audit currently available.

In its report ‘Tenets of a quality audit’ the ACCA said it recognises auditors are being called on to simultaneously follow rules and judgement – which do not always align.

The report says balancing the inherent tensions in an audit requires extensive consultation with stakeholders, drawing on their viewpoint of the role of the audit, and the value of the process to company, stakeholder and society.

The ACCA has published a guide identifying the factors that contribute to audit quality as thoroughness and timeliness; independence and closeness; standardisation and autonomy; delivering a holistic opinion and responding to fraud, transparency and confidentiality.

There may be wider challenges to the audit process- including the assertions that it often fails to discover major problems in a company and cannot effectively measure companies with high levels of intangible value.

But at a fundamental level, the ACCA must be commended for recognising the tensions in audit that many FDs will acknowledge- and arguing for a better way to manage them.