Confirmation is the process of obtaining and evaluating a direct communication from a third party in response to a request for information about a particular item affecting financial statement assertions. It describes the concept of assessing inherent and control risks, determining the acceptable level of detection risk, and designing an audit program to achieve an appropriately low level of audit risk. The auditor uses the audit risk assessment in determining the audit procedures to be applied, including whether they should include confirmation. The greater the combined assessed level of inherent and control risk, the greater the assurance that the auditor needs from substantive tests related to a financial statement assertion.
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For example, when using confirmations to provide evidence about the completeness assertion for accounts payable, the appropriate population might be a list of vendors rather than the amounts recorded in the accounts payable subsidiary ledger. Some confirmation requests are not designed to elicit evidence regarding the completeness assertion. Confirmation requests should be tailored to the specific audit objectives.
Thus, when designing the confirmation requests, the auditor should consider the assertion(s) being addressed and the factors that are likely to affect the reliability of the confirmations. Factors such as the form of the confirmation request, prior experience on the audit or similar engagements, the nature of the information being confirmed, and the intended respondent should affect the design of the requests because these factors have a direct effect on the reliability of the evidence obtained through confirmation procedures.
There are two types of confirmation requests: the positive form and the negative form. Some positive forms request the respondent to indicate whether he or she agrees with the information stated on the request. Other positive forms, referred to as blank forms, do not state the amount (or other information) on the confirmation request, but request the recipient to fill in the balance or furnish other