With 31st March year end approaching, auditors need to consider the effect of the travel restrictions and social distancing on stock attendances required under Auditing Standards.
The auditors do still need sufficient appropriate audit evidence in order to form their audit opinion on the existence and completeness of stocks at the balance sheet date.
Below are the different options that the auditor could use.
If the business is continuing to trade:
- The year end could be extended to defer the stock attendance to a more suitable date, however a company can only end its year end once in 5 years, up to a maximum of 18 months, therefore a 31st March year end can only be extended to 30th September.
- The business can produce stock records at the year end, then using continuous stock records, sample check at a later date.
- Use technology to remotely attend the stock counts. With the business counting and the auditor reviewing in real time, using video calling software such as Face time, WhatsApp or Skype
If a business has had to close:
- Obtaining the closing stock reports and attending to count once the business reopens would be an option.
If sufficient appropriate audit evidence cannot be obtained:
- Where a solution cannot be found there would be a limitation in scope of the audit and the auditor would be required to qualify the audit report in this respect.