Q&A: Steve Collings & his new audit book
30th Mar 2011
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This month Wiley & Co published a book by AccountingWEB contributor Steve Collings called ‘The Interpretation and Application of International Standards on Auditing’. Here the audit partner at Leavitt Walmsley Associates answers questions on how he came to write the book.
Q. What does the book cover and who is its target audience?
A. It’s 648 pages of bang up-to-date interpretation of the clarified International Standards on Auditing (ISAs), summaries of IFRS/IAS and illustrative audit tests. It also contains model financial statements for a large listed PLC, medium-sized companies and small companies. It’s targeted at auditors in practice as well as accountants because, despite the title, it is more than a book on auditing standards.
Q. How does it differ from other books on the same subject?
A. I work in real-life audit, I also get my hands dirty in the nitty gritty – something which some people would not view as appropriate work for an audit partner and this is the angle I wrote the book from. Because of my lecturing I know what problems real-life auditors and accountants preparing accounts face. My book is not simply a regurgitation of the official standards -it’s packed with real-life examples, illustrations and advice on how to apply auditing standards.
Q. Why did you write it?
A. A lot of people ask me this! I do a lot of technical writing (as you will know from my articles on AccountingWEB.co.uk) and was approached by the Wiley to write a book on the new standards. I jumped at the chance to write for a prominent publisher.
I also listen to delegates on courses I lecture and it was clear that the reason why auditors struggle to get things right is the sheer size of the standards. Practitioners don’t want mirror images of the official standards – they want to have illustrations. Tolleys tax manuals were often cited to me during my research stage as a prime example of what practitioners want from a technical book: here are the standards and here’s how to apply them in language professional accountants understand. This is exactly what this book does.
Q. You say the book contains illustrative financial statements, what is the purpose of including these?
A. My articles for AccountingWEB are usually “problem” articles – the areas where practitioners often fall down. I decided that the book had to be different than other publications on auditing. I wrote it for auditors and accountants who have diverse client portfolios. Very few SME practitioners will have listed clients, so the illustrative financial statements show the most common disclosures a full range of entities from a large, multinational PLC to group accounts and a small entity reporting under IFRS. The idea is that practitioners (including non-auditors) can use these accounts as templates.
Q. What other ‘useful’ areas are contained in the book?
A. There’s plenty of material out there on websites that simply regurgitate the standards. Instead I have taken the standards and interpreted them in easy to understand language. The book includes an audit programme that details certain audit areas (eg payroll) and the appropriate audit tests on that area.
Q. Was it a straight forward project writing this book?
A. Absolutely not! Any author will tell you that writing a book on a technical subject takes its toll. Luckily Leavitt Walmsley Associates were really co-operative with the project and I took some time off during the year to concentrate on the writing, particularly when the deadline was close. Some chapters were easier to write than others but I am a born trier, so I wasn’t going to let it beat me!!
Q. Will you be writing any other publications?
A. Yes. I am co-author of another publication which is due out later this year and have just completed an IFRS disclosure checklist for a course provider. I’ll also be updating an earlier IFRS/IAS book for [email protected]. I’ll stay loyal to AccountingWEB.co.uk and continue to write articles on financial reporting and auditing subjects as there’s a lot of change on the way in financial reporting.
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