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AIA Student Articles
Accounting and Finance Articles for Students
Guidance articles for students undertaking the AIA professional qualification
Here you will find a range of articles on study support and exam preparation, as well has paper specific guidance. These technical articles, which are relevant to various exams, aim to support your studies.
Students should also refer to the learning materials available through AIA Achieve Academy, as well as the syllabus.
The new Developments in Auditing and Assurance paper was set for the first time in November. The paper has changed somewhat from the old Paper 15 Professional Accountant in construct and emphasis, although the content is broadly similar and the key factors leading to success in the paper apply.
The new examination is building on the Principles of Governance and Audit paper from the Professional 1 level and the other related elements of the Foundation level and then aims to extend and deepen the student’s understanding of auditing and auditing techniques. The examination therefore explores auditing and assurance procedures to consider more challenging reporting areas and issues. It examines and critiques current practices and explores emerging and future developments in auditing and assurance. In addition to providing a thorough professional grounding in audit, other assurance areas are also discussed, applying audit techniques to emerging areas.
The specific aims are to develop and examine the candidate’s ability:
To present, discuss and critique advanced auditing approaches and techniques
To demonstrate how these can be applied in different situations mainly (but not only) in relation to financial statement audits
To discuss and critique developments in auditing and accountability.
(N.B Wider aspects of accountability are also covered within this paper.)
As you will appreciate, 2020/21 was a turbulent time for many businesses as the consequences of the ongoing economic and social challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic made themselves felt. It is against this background of economic uncertainty that the 2022 sitting of DAA has been set and you should be prepared to consider the commercial impact of these times on any risk assessment you explore.
I emphasise to students that 20% of the paper is considering wider accountability and is therefore almost as important as Issues of Quality Control. 15% of the paper relates to ideas of ethics and public interest and how this relates to the actual conduct of assignments. In common the Paper 15, these issues will be incorporated within the scenario as well as featuring as stand-alone questions on occasion – and as all questions are compulsory students must engage with these topics in their studies.
I therefore highlight a number of emerging issues which students should ensure familiarity with. This article is not intended to be exhaustive but should signpost candidates towards their wider professional reading and towards auditing standards and issues in practice which they might engage in more deeply.
Students should also be familiar with the specific more advanced areas of auditing practice that are only examined on DAA as well as some of the basic ideas of auditing and governance and financial reporting coming from prior studies – as an accountant you are not able to forget your prior technical knowledge as you progress!
IFAC has noted that “public interest considerations must remain paramount in an age of COVID-19” and have produced an interesting article exploring some of the ethical and public interest issues raised by the current reporting and auditing environment.
The key issues they have highlighted are the heightened risk of fraud and error in corporate reports caused by the stress within the economy exacerbated by the challenges of remote working. They note “greater transparency and disclosure of forward-looking information on an organization’s operating performance, financial position, liquidity and future prospects are more critical than ever even though current circumstances make this more challenging. Professional accountants in business need to make reasonable, good-faith judgments in the context, and, on the basis of, information currently available”
Focus on Audit Quality
This IFAC framework provides a comprehensive overview of the factors driving audit quality at an engagement, firm and national level. It reiterates much of previous guidance but contextualises the ideas within the debate around the increasing focus on public interest. The problems in ensuring audit quality in audit firms are clearly not easy to resolve as the regulatory review into audit firms in the UK routinely highlight areas of weakness and the spate of recent high profile audit scandals in PIE’s would support the idea that these problems result in poor quality in practice. It is therefore vital that students understand how audit quality is promoted and safeguarded in audit firms and it is an area that is frequently examined in this paper.
The AIA Professional Qualification (PQ) can now be completed entirely online with computer based exams and the AIA's digital Achieve Academy Course.
The online exams are conducted in multiple formats, including text documents. For the first time we are offering objective test style questions in the form of multiple-choice questions covering each of the four components of the syllabus in the Foundation Unit.
You can see a sample assessment by logging in to My AIA – take time to try out the ‘Business and Financial Management’ paper. Your responses ae not marked so you are free to access the sample paper as many times as you like.
Practice, practice, practice
Take time to try out practice questions using different methods:
Self-review responses – type your response and review it against a model answer. You can attempt these questions as many times as you like, which allows for further studying should you need it
Tutor marked questions – you type your response onscreen in the AIA platform, receiving feedback on your performance from the tutor
Automated responses – you will receive immediate feedback for the practice questions in the Foundation unit.
Practising questions onscreen allows you to become familiar with the functionality of the online exam, which uses both word and excel in a split screen format.
Tables, formulae, case studies, and other supplementary material is viewed in a pop-out exhibit tab – take time to view these and become familiar with how you can access this information.
Take time to check your knowledge as you progress through the course. Every course offers two checkpoint tests – these tests are available at key stages in the study periods. Once you have completed a checkpoint test you will receive an automatic response within the learning platform.