Case study of “Rigorous or Not?: A Case of Auditor Judgment for Deferred Tax Issues”
Judgment Framework and Professional Judgment
Discuss the importance of “judgment framing.”
“Judgment framing” occurs early in the judgment process. The definition of framing follows: Frames are mental structures that we use, usually subconsciously, to simplify, organize, and guide our understanding of a situation. They shape our perspectives and determine the information that we will see as relevant or irrelevant, important or unimportant. Frames are a necessary aspect of judgment, but it is important to realize that our judgment frames provide only one particular perspective.
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A common mistake in evaluating the quality of a judgment is to focus only on the outcome and ignore the quality of the process that led up to the outcome. Because uncertainty is involved in making choices, it is often best to evaluate judgment performance by considering the quality of the judgment process employed rather than focusing solely on the outcome that resulted from the judgment.
d. Reach a Conclusion: It is important to consider whether the conclusion reached makes sense when taking into account the bigger picture. At this stage, it is appropriate to consider the strength of evidence and whether the alternatives considered and evidence gathered have been considered in a way that is objective and unhindered by judgment traps.
e. Articulate and Document Rationale: This step is included as a separate step in the KPMG Professional Judgment Framework because it is extremely important to properly document the work performed in an accounting or auditing setting. In this final step, we need to be prepared to articulate our rationale to those who may not agree with the conclusions reached. It is also appropriate to document positive/supportive evidence as well as evidence that went contrary to the ultimate conclusion. Documenting the rationale also helps to make sure that all of the other steps of the judgment process were completed in an appropriate fashion and that the logic holds together when documenting the process and conclusion.
Describe the availability tendency in your own words, and give an example of how the tendency could result in auditor bias.
The tendency for decision makers to consider information that is easily retrievable from memory as being more likely, more relevant, or more important for a judgment. Example: An auditor who identified a significant amount of unrecorded liabilities on a prior audit is likely to overestimate the likelihood of the presence of unrecorded liabilities on a subsequent audit.
Describe the confirmation tendency in your own words, and give an example of how the tendency could result in auditor bias.
The tendency for people making judgments to seek and to put more weight on information that is consistent with their initial beliefs or preferences. Example: If management has taken a particular stance in accounting for a complex transaction and the authoritative standards are not clear on the subject, the auditor may be likely to seek and to place inordinate weight on evidence that supports or “confirms” management’s treatment of the transaction.
What are some common judgment traps that prevent exercising good professional judgment?
• Shortcuts: May lead to systematically biased judgments.
• The “Rush to Solve”: The tendency to want to immediately solve a problem by making a quick judgment.
• “Judgment trigger”: Can lead the decision make to skip the crucial early steps in the judgment process.
What is the most important factor in avoiding traps or reducing bias?