With all the media reports on allegations of shenanigans by auditors, I wonder whether the real problem is a growing expectation gap between the profession and the public that no one is paying attention to. In the stories around African Bank, Steinhoff and VBS, it is not only management that has been vilified for what went wrong but also the audit firms that signed off on their numbers. We perhaps need to start by understanding both the position of the auditors and the regulations that keep them honest - though clearly not honest enough in the eyes of the public. Auditing is a heavily regulated industry, with reams of international financial reporting standards (IFRS) that are very prescriptive about the treatment of financial transactions. Auditors are required to perform their duties within the confines of such standards, and, for as long as they do so, they are considered to be compliant with them. In addition, the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) publishes severa...

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