Past Featured Researcher - Regan Schmidt
Department of Accounting
Working in public practice has given Professor and Chartered Accountant Regan Schmidt a clear idea of the issues auditors deal with. “I always inform my students that, in my opinion, audit experience is among the best business experience you can get,” he says. “In public practice, you see the issues that auditors encounter, and academic research is best suited to provide the answers.”
Dr. Schmidt’s research focuses on one such issue in the area of control environment evaluation. “This study is the first, to my knowledge, that actually tries to grasp with how an auditor goes out and gathers information on client management’s ethicality and competence as it relates to financial reporting practices.”
“What the study results show is that auditors are striving to conduct their audit procedures in a diagnostic fashion,” he says. Moreover, Schmidt also looked at whether the current decision aid used in practice – a checklist tool – was effective in assisting auditors to evaluate the control environment. “The literature has found that if you are given a checklist, you tend to tick boxes rather than think. Stated differently, a checklist may interfere with how an individual uses their knowledge on a particular task,” he states. “In contrast, I developed a decision aid which is structured differently in order to assist the auditor in applying their knowledge in the task. I found the new decision aid was the most effective tool in helping the auditor to increase the extent of diagnostic testing which means that it aided the auditor to search for the most informative information on which to base their decisions.”
The completion of Schmidt’s research is timely. The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) announced in November 2010 that it will be revising the current internal control framework and checklist-style decision aid – the most widely used framework and tools among publicly traded firms in North America.