The UK Professional Oversight Board (POB)
has made some substantive recommendations on how the UK’s
professional accounting bodies can strengthen their

The board’s annual Report to the Secretary
of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
identified a
number of areas it considers are not tested adequately either in
terms of theoretical knowledge or the ability to apply knowledge in

The POB said there were areas where
examinations were not sufficiently challenging, especially in the
final audit examination at some of the bodies.

There was particular concern about some
questions on final audit papers being too related to general
assurance engagements rather than statutory audit matters.

In one instance, the POB concluded the
arrangements for students to follow a suitable course of
theoretical instruction were inadequate.

The POB asked some bodies to review their
examinations for the recognised professional qualification and put
forward proposals to meet the regulator’s concerns.

However, the board concluded that the bodies
take their responsibilities extremely seriously and much of the
regulatory practice seen was of a high standard.

The report also highlighted some issues
arising from audit monitoring.

It found audit work was fundamentally sound
but highlighted some cases where there was a lack of practitioners’
evidence of the audit work they had done.

According to the board, staff at all of the
bodies confirmed this is a common issue, particularly in smaller

The POB stressed that poor documentation
reduces the perceived quality of audit work and may weaken
confidence in the firm and the profession.

It called on all the bodies to work together
to identify the root cause and other recurring issues and develop
appropriate plans to minimise these and raise the quality of audit