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Quality control in the audit environment

Quality Control in the audit environment is an important area of focus for audit practitioners. This section provides guidance to firms on international quality control standards for auditors, including International Standard on Quality Control 1 (ISQC 1) and includes our paper on improving audit quality using root cause analysis (RCA). It also picks up international developments, including the IAASB audit quality project.

This section covers quality control for firms that perform audits and reviews of financial statements, and other assurance and related services engagements. It contains the ICAEW publication on Quality control in the audit environment - A practical guide for firms on the clarified ISQC 1 along with resources to support implementation. 

Practical help

Improving audit quality using root cause analysis
With external audits under unprecedented levels of scrutiny, root cause analysis (RCA) can be a useful tool for those tasked with improving audit quality. Following feedback that there is little support for external auditors on how to carry out RCA, the Audit and Assurance Faculty has published this practical paper for its members outlining what RCA is and what auditors need to consider to make the most of this useful tool. It covers the five essential questions of: what, why, how, who and when?

Quality control in the audit environment
This publication concentrates on the ISQC (UK and Ireland) 1 requirements on quality control for firms rather than the International Standard on Auditing (ISA) (UK and Ireland) 220 requirements for individual audit engagements. It is intended to be of particular help to smaller firms, including sole practitioners and those firms with only one or two responsible individuals.

Quality control in the audit environment - international edition
This guide includes the seven key areas for firms to consider when implementing the clarified International Standard on Quality Control 1 (ISQC1), together with illustrative policies and procedures. Policies and procedures aimed at sole practitioners can be found at the end of each section. The guide will help firms determine what further practical measures they might need to take.

Data analytics for external auditors
Auditor data analytics is about enhancing audit quality. There are different angles on what this means in practice but audit quality is a common objective of auditors, regulators and standard-setters alike.

International Auditing Perspectives: What regulators say about auditors
This paper deals with the principal findings of public reports issued by audit regulators in eight different jurisdictions in Europe, Asia and North America, and reports prepared by IFIAR and EAIG.

Related parties
The audit of related party relationships and transactions can be a challenging area for auditors. This section contains assistance for the practical implementation of ISA 550 Related Parties.

Relevant articles

Articles written by practitioners and ICAEW staff in the area of Quality Control.

Focus on relevance
There is a common misconception that improving audit quality costs money without any improvement to efficiency, and auditors can only become more profitable by cutting costs. However, with appropriate investment in audit, quality can drive efficiency as this article sets out.

Get engaged
Even the smallest audit firm might sometimes need an engagement quality control review as this article reports.

First line of defence
Reasons for a review of completed engagement (or cold file review)] range from regulatory requirements, through higher-risk jobs, to pre-planning for the next year, but they can also help audit firms identify where they can improve efficiency. You can access a Review of Completed Engagement (Cold Review)] Helpsheet for further assistance which you can find in the Helpsheets listing below.

ISQC 1 and UK Audit Regulations
Cold file reviews should go beyond basic compliance to identify areas for improving the quality and efficiency of audit. But compliance with ISQC1 and UK Audit Regulations can create confusion for some firms, as the following questions highlight.

The heat is on
So what is the difference between a Pre-completion review of the audit (hot file review) and an engagement quality control review (EQCR)? Are Pre-completion review of the audit and second partner reviews the same? When, and also why, should a formal consultation be conducted? This article seeks to answer these and other questions affecting reviews on audit quality.


This section contains practical guidance in the area of quality control and includes file reviews and whole firm reviews.

Review of Completed Engagement file audit review (Cold Review) 

Practice assurance compliance review 

Whole firm audit compliance review


Mastering audit documentation - revisited

The importance of scepticism

Audit Quality Indicators

Enhancing audit quality and the IAASB consultation

Improving audit quality using root cause analysis

ISQC 1 - making it work for you in practice 2013

Professional scepticism and other key audit issues 2012

Monitoring your firm's audit quality - practical ways to maximise benefit 2013

Mastering audit documentation 2013

IAASB guidance, support tools and news

Guidance and support from the IAASB in the area of quality control

Staff Questions & Answers - Applying ISQC 1 Proportionately with the Nature and Size of a Firm

Staff Questions & Answers – Professional Skepticism in an Audit of Financial Statements

IAASB Staff Issues Q&A Document on Professional Skepticism

Tips for Cost-Effective ISQC 1 Application 2011