Performance Materiality: What’s all that about?
The new Clarified ISAs, which are effective for the audit of financial statements for accounting periods commencing on or after 15 December 2009, will shortly start to bite (that is for those practitioners who have not adopted the new ISAs early).
Last week, I was lecturing to members of the Society of Professional Accountants (SPA) on how the new ISAs will affect their audit staff, or their practice if they are a sole practitioner. One question which was asked of me both during the lecture and in the break concerned the issue of ‘performance materiality’ and seemed to confuse practitioners.
Performance materiality is a new concept, borne out of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) Clarity Project. Audit materiality is certainly not a new concept and auditors have always had to (and will continue to) arrive at a materiality level where an audit opinion is expressed. The confusion (at the present time) lies within performance materiality.
ISA 320 defines performance materiality as:
‘the amount(s) set by the auditor at less than materiality for the financial statements as a whole to reduce to an appropriately low level the probability that the aggregate of uncorrected and undetected misstatements exceeds materiality for the financial statements as a whole and the amount(s) set by the auditor at less than the materiality level(s) for particular classes of transactions, account balances or disclosures.’