What factors contribute to South African auditors not identifying material misstatements in South African financial statements?

This paper’s aim is to investigate which factors increase the likelihood of a material misstatement being undetected by South African auditors. This research has used a quantitative research methodology which produced descriptive and inferential statistics. The research is limited to responses submitted by respondents based on their perceptions of South African auditors and South African financial statements. The reason for this is that what appears to be missing from the prior literature is an assessment of which factors in the South African context increase the likelihood of a material misstatement going undetected and a focus on factors under the control of auditors. Understanding which factors are most and least important in the South African context will make it possible to implement remedial actions suited to South Africa. This should enhance audit quality and ensure that errors are identified on a timely basis. This increases confidence in the South African capital market (SAICA, 2017) and may lead to lower cost of capital demands of South African companies (SAICA, 2017). As per the research, the researcher identified that the factors appear to have equal significance when contributing to auditors missing material misstatements. There were only a few statistically significant differences in responses because of firm type, previous IAS 8 experience, age or gender, which have been highlighted in the findings below. The results were predominantly in line with expectations.
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Commerce to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022
Audit failure, Prior period error, Material misstatement