Analytical Procedures

  • By TeamKoncept
  • 30 May, 2023
Analytical Procedures

Analytical Procedures

Table of Content


Since routine checks cannot be depended upon to disclose all the mistakes or manipulation that may exist in accounts, certain other procedures also have to be applied like comparisons, trend and ratio analysis in addition to reasonable tests. These collectively are known as overall tests. With the passage of tests, analytical procedures have acquired lot of significance as substantive audit procedure. SA-520 on Analytical Procedures discusses the application of analytical procedures during an audit.

Meaning of Analytical Procedures. As per the Standard on Auditing (SA) 520 “Analytical Procedures”, the term “analytical procedures” means evaluations of financial information through analysis of plausible relationships among both financial  and  non-financial data. Analytical procedures also encompass such investigation as is necessary of identified fluctuations or relationships that are inconsistent with other relevant information or that differ from expected values by a significant amount.

Analytical procedures include the consideration of comparisons of the entity’s financial information with as well as consideration of relationships.

Examples of Analytical Procedures having consideration of comparisons of the entity’s financial information are:
  • Comparable information for prior periods.
    CA Brijesh, while verifying the travelling expenses of PRT Ltd., may compare the travelling expenses of current year amounting to Rs. 2.50 lakhs with previous year travelling expense of PRT Ltd. amounting to Rs. 2 lakhs and infer that there has been an increase of 25% in the travelling expense incurred by the company. CA Brijesh may compare such percentage increase with the trend of the earlier several years.
    Thus, CA Brijesh, can use comparable information for prior periods of PRT Ltd. while applying analytical procedure with respect to the expenses incurred by the company.
  • Anticipated results of the entity, such as budgets or forecasts, or expectations of the auditor, such as an estimation of depreciation.
  • Similar industry information, such as a comparison of the entity’s ratio of sales to accounts receivable with industry averages or with other entities of comparable size in the same industry.
Examples of Analytical Procedures having consideration of relationships are:
  • Among elements of financial information that would be expected to conform to a predictable pattern based on the entity’s experience, such as gross margin percentages.
  • Between financial information and relevant non-financial information, such as payroll costs to number ofemployees.
SA – 520, “Analytical Procedures”

Scope of SA 520

SA 520 deals with the auditor’s use of analytical procedures as substantive procedures (“substantive analytical procedures”), and as procedures near the end  of the audit that assist the auditor when forming an overall conclusion on the financial statements.

The use of analytical procedures as risk assessment procedures is dealt with in SA 315.

SA 330 includes requirements and guidance regarding the nature, timing and extent of audit procedures in response to assessed risks; these audit procedures may include substantive analytical procedures.

The objectives of the auditor are:
  1. To obtain relevant and reliable audit evidence when using substantive analytical procedures; and
  2. To design and perform analytical procedures near the end of the audit that assist the auditor when forming an overall conclusion as to whether the financial statements are consistent with the auditor’s understanding of the entity.


Purpose of Analytical Procedures

Analytical procedures use comparisons and relationships to assess whether account balances or other data appear reasonable.

For instance, establishing the relationship that exists between certain balances included in the Balance Sheet and the Statement of Profit and Loss and comparing them with those that existed between the same set of balances in the previous year, reconciling the physical balances of assets with the relevant financial record; obtaining of account from the bankers, account receivables and account payables and reconciling with relevant balances in books of account; confirming amounts of outstanding income and expenses by preparing reconciliation statements, etc. These are helpful in the detection of unusual state of affairs and mistakes in accounts.

In XYZ Ltd., after applying analytical procedures as comparison of the gross profit ratio with that of the previous year, it is discovered that there has been fall in the ratio. Therefore, it became necessary for the auditor to make further enquiries as it may be due to pilferage of inventories/ misappropriation of a part of the sale proceeds/ a change in the cost of sales without a corresponding increase in the sales price.

On verifying the balances of sundry account receivables by obtaining the confirmation of their statements of account, it will be possible for the auditor to find out whether the discrepancy in the balance of an account receivable is due to the failure to debit his account with the cost of goods supplied to him or is  the result  of non-adjustment of a remittance received from him.

Also whether in the case of account payable, the discrepancy is due to failure to afford him credit for one or more consignments of goods supplied by him or failure to debit him with an amount of remittance.

In case of inventories of raw materials and stores at the end of the year any excesses or shortages therein shall be detected. The investigation of their causes might disclose that the shortages were the result of a misappropriation of inventory or that the excess were due to requisitions having been entered before the inventories were issued.

By reconciling the amounts of interest and dividends collected with the amounts which had accrued due and that which are outstanding for payment, the mistake, if any, in the adjustment of such an income would be detected.

The overall tests can be extended for making inter-firm and intra-firm comparison of trading results.

If balances included in the Statement of Profit and Loss of an entity are compared with those contained in the Statement of Profit and Loss for the same period of another entity engaged in the same trade and working under similar circumstances, it would be possible to find out the cause of the variation in the rate of profitability that exists.
  • Similarly, it would also be possible to compare the balances on the Statement of Profit and Loss with that of the previous period, it would be possible to find out the reasons for increase or decrease in the amount of profits of those years.
  • By setting up certain expenses ratios on the basis of balances included in the Statement of Profit and Loss, for the year under audit, comparing them with the same ratios for the previous year, it is possible to ascertain the extent of increase or decrease in various items of expenditure in relation to sales and that of trading profit in relation to sales.
  • If differences are found to be material, the auditor would ascertain the reasons thereof and assess whether the accounts have been manipulated to inflate or suppress profits.
An abnormal fall in the cost of manufacture or that in the administrative cost, apart from economy in expenses, there could be no provision or less provision for expenses incurred in the year. When it is suspected, the auditor should compare the entries in the outstanding book with those in the previous year. He must also check the vouchers for one month immediately before the close  of  the  following  years.  To  verify  that  none  of the expenses in the accounts under audit have been charged to the accounts of the following years.

Often it is possible to independently verify the correctness of some of the items of expenses included in the Statement of Profit and Loss.

For instance, the cost of importing goods which are subjected to an ad-valorem duty at uniform rate can be verified from the amount of duty paid. Similarly, a quantity of sugar sold by sugar mill can be verified independently from the amount of excise duty paid.

Similarly, the amount of any income or expenses which has a direct relationship with the amount of profits or that of sales can be verified independently, e.g., commission paid to a manager calculated on the basis of net profits, commission paid to a selling agent as percentage of sales, etc. Such calculation of ratios, trends and comparisons is also termed as analytical review.

Thus, it is important to note that Analytical procedures may help identify the existence of unusual transactions or events, and amounts, ratios, and trends that might indicate matters  that  have  audit  implications. Unusual or unexpected relationships that are identified may assist the auditor in identifying risks of material misstatement, especially risks of material misstatement due to fraud.

Timing of Analytical Procedures

Experienced auditors use analytical procedures in all stages of the audit. Analytical Procedures are required in the planning phase and it is often done during the testing phase. In addition these are also required during the completion phase.

Analytical Procedures in Planning the Audit

In the planning stage, analytical procedures assist the auditor in understanding the client’s business and in identifying areas of potential risk by indicating aspects of and developments in the entity’s business of which he was previously unaware. This information will assist the auditor in determining the nature, timing and extent of his other audit procedures. Analytical procedures in planning the audit use both financial data and non-financial information, such as number of employees, square feet of selling space, volume of goods produced and similar information.

For example: Analytical procedures may help the auditor during the planning stage to determine the nature, timing and extent of audit procedures that will be used to obtain audit evidence for specific account balances or classes of transactions.


The auditor’s substantive procedures at the assertion level may be tests of details, substantive analytical procedures, or a combination of both. The decision about which audit procedures to perform, including whether to use substantive analytical procedures, is based on the auditor’s judgment about the expected effectiveness and efficiency of the available audit procedures to reduce audit risk at the assertion level to an acceptably low level.

The auditor may inquire of management as to the availability and reliability of information needed to apply substantive analytical procedures, and the results of any such analytical procedures performed by the entity. It may be effective to use analytical data prepared by management, provided the auditor is satisfied that such data is properly prepared.

Factors to be considered for Substantive Audit Procedures

The auditor should consider the following factors for Substantive Audit Procedures:

Availability of Data – The availability of reliable and relevant data will facilitate effective analytical procedures.

Disaggregation – The degree of disaggregation in available data can directly affect the degree of its usefulness in detecting misstatements.

Account Type – Substantive analytical procedures are more useful for certain types of accounts than for others. Income statement accounts tend to be more predictable because they reflect accumulated transactions over a period, whereas balance sheet accounts represent the net effect of transactions at a point in time or are subject to greater management judgment.

We can analyze data to understand the relationship to another account and through this, disaggregate the transactions flowing to and from the balance sheet account (e.g., sales and cash receipts flowing through trade receivables), or to compare ratios over time as
this enhances our ability to obtain audit evidence for balance sheet accounts.

Source – Some classes of transactions tend to be more predictable because they consist of numerous, similar transactions, (e.g., through routine processes). Whereas the transactions recorded by non-routine and estimation SCOTs (Significant Classes of Transactions) are often subject to management judgment and therefore more difficult to predict.

Transactions of routine nature like transactions related to sales and purchases are predictable and repetitive in nature. Therefore, on such data analytical procedures can be efficiently applied.
However, Significant Classes Transactions are those classes of transactions in a company’s operations that are key to the financial statements and are not frequent in nature. Example: Expenditure on Research & Advertisement is not of routine nature and are subject to management judgement and therefore more difficult to predict.

Predictability – Substantive analytical procedures are more appropriate when an account balance or relationships between items of data are predictable (e.g., between sales and cost of sales or between trade receivables and cash receipts). A predictable relationship is one that may reasonably be expected to exist and continue over time.

Nature of Assertion – Substantive analytical procedures may be more effective in providing evidence for some assertions (e.g., completeness or valuation) than for others (e.g., rights and obligations). Predictive analytical procedures using data analytics can be used to address completeness, valuation/measurement and occurrence.

Inherent Risk or “What Can Go Wrong” – When we are designing audit procedures to address an inherent risk or “what can go wrong”, we consider the nature of the risk of material misstatement in order to determine if a substantive analytical procedure can be used to obtain audit evidence. When inherent risk is higher, we may design tests of details to address the higher inherent risk. When significant risks have been identified, audit evidence obtained solely from substantive analytical procedures is unlikely to be sufficient.

When side agreements with respect to revenue recognition have been identified as a significant or fraud risk, it is unlikely that an analysis of sales compared to cash receipts or cost of sales would be appropriate to respond to that risk.

Techniques Available as Substantive Analytical Procedures
The design of a substantive analytical procedure is limited only by the availability of reliable data and the experience and creativity of the audit team. Substantive analytical procedures generally take one of the following forms:

Trend analysis – Trend analysis is a commonly used technique. It is the comparison of current data with the prior period balance or with a trend in two or more prior period balances. The auditor evaluates whether the current balance of an account moves in line with the trend established with previous balances for that account, or based on an understanding of factors that may cause the account to change.

In other words, trend analysis implies analysing account fluctuations by comparing current year to prior year information and, also, to information derived over several years.

The auditor may compare the salary paid by the company during the year under audit with the salary paid by the company for several earlier years. There may be some percentage increase in the salary expense over the years. However, an unusual increase in such expense amount may indicate that fraudulent payments are being made to fake employees.

Ratio analysis – Ratio analysis is useful for analysing asset and liability accounts as well as revenue and expense accounts. An individual balance sheet account is diffcult to predict on its own, but its relationship to another account is often more predictable (e.g., the trade receivables balance related to sales). Ratios can also be compared over time or to the ratios of separate entities within the group, or with the ratios of other companies in the same industry.

Financial ratios may include:
  • Trade receivables or inventory turnover
  • Freight expense as a percentage of sales revenue
The statutory auditor can review the Gross profit ratio of the company for the year under audit. The auditor can further compare such GP ratio with the GP ratio of the company in the earlier years or the GP ratio of the other companies in the same industry for the year under audit.

Reasonableness tests – Unlike trend analysis, this analytical procedure does not rely on events of prior periods, but upon non-financial data for the audit period under consideration (e.g., occupancy rates to estimate rental income or interest rates to estimate interest income or expense). These tests are generally more applicable to income statement accounts and certain accrual or prepayment accounts. In other words these tests are made by reviewing the relationship of certain account balances to other balances for reasonableness of amounts.
Structural modelling – A modelling tool constructs a statistical model from financial and/or non-financial data of prior accounting periods to predict current account balances (e.g., linear regression).

Analytical Procedures used as Substantive Tests

When designing and performing substantive analytical procedures, either alone or in combination with tests of details, as substantive procedures in accordance with SA 330, the auditor shall:
  1. Determine the suitability of particular substantive analytical procedures for given assertions, taking account of the assessed risks of material misstatement and tests of details, if any, for these assertions;
  2. Evaluate the reliability of data from which the auditor’s expectation of recorded amounts or ratios is developed, taking account of source, comparability, and nature and relevance of information available, and controls over preparation;
  3. Develop an expectation of recorded amounts or ratios and evaluate whether the expectation is sufficiently precise to identify a misstatement that, individually or when aggregated with other misstatements, may cause the financial statements to be materially misstated; and
  4. Determine the amount of any difference of recorded amounts from expected values that is acceptable without further investigation.

  • Substantive analytical procedures are generally more applicable to large volumes of transactions that tend to be predictable over time.
  • The application of planned analytical procedures is based on the expectation that relationships among data exist and continue in the absence of known conditions to the contrary.
  • However, the suitability of a particular analytical procedure will depend upon the auditor’s assessment of how effective it will be in  detecting a misstatement that, individually or when aggregated with other misstatements, may cause the financial statements to be materially misstated.
  • In some cases, even an unsophisticated predictive model may be effective as an analytical procedure.
If an entity has a known number of employees at fixed rates of pay throughout the period, it may be possible for the auditor to use this data to estimate the total payroll costs for the period with a high degree of accuracy, thereby providing audit evidence for a significant item in the financial statements and reducing the need to perform tests of details on the payroll. The use of widely recognized trade ratios (such as profit margins for different types of retail entities) can often be used effectively in substantive analytical procedures to provide evidence to support the reasonableness of recorded amounts.

Different types of analytical procedures provide different levels of assurance. Analytical procedures involving, for example, the prediction of total rental income on a building divided into apartments, taking the rental rates, the number of apartments and vacancy rates into consideration, can provide persuasive evidence and may eliminate the need for further verification by means of tests of details, provided the elements are appropriately verified. In contrast, calculation and comparison of gross margin percentages as a means of confirming a revenue figure may provide less persuasive evidence, but may provide useful corroboration if used in combination with other audit procedures.

The determination of the suitability of particular substantive analytical procedure is influenced by the nature of the assertion and the auditor’s assessment of the risk of material misstatement. For example, if controls over sales order processing are weak, the auditor may place more reliance on tests of details rather than on substantive analytical procedures for assertions related to receivables.

Particular substantive analytical procedures may also be considered suitable when tests of details are performed on the same assertion. For example, when obtaining audit evidence regarding the valuation assertion for accounts receivable balances, the auditor may apply analytical procedures to an aging of customers’ accounts in addition to performing tests of details on subsequent cash receipts to determine the collectability of the receivables.


The reliability of data is influenced by its source and nature and is dependent on the circumstances under which it is obtained. Accordingly, the following are relevant when determining whether data is reliable for purposes of designing substantive analytical procedures:
  1. Source of the information available. For example, information may be more reliable when it is obtained from independent sources outside the entity;
  2. Comparability of the information available. For example, broad industry data may need to be supplemented to be comparable to that of an entity that produces and sells specialised products;
  3. Nature and relevance of the information available. For example, whether budgets have been established as results to be expected rather than as goals to be achieved; and
  4. Controls over the preparation of the information that are designed to ensure its completeness, accuracy and validity. For example, controls over the preparation, review and maintenance of budgets.
The auditor may consider testing the operating effectiveness of controls, if any, over the entity’s preparation of information used by the auditor in performing substantive analytical procedures in response to assessed risks. When such controls are effective, the auditor generally has greater confidence in the reliability of the information and, therefore, in the results of analytical procedures. The operating effectiveness of controls over non-financial information may often be tested in conjunction with other tests of controls.

For example, in establishing controls over the processing of sales invoices, an entity may include controls over the recording of unit sales. In these circumstances, the auditor may test the operating effectiveness of controls over the recording of unit sales in conjunction with tests of the operating effectiveness of controls over the processing of sales invoices. Alternatively, the auditor may consider whether the information was subjected to audit testing. SA 500 establishes requirements and provides guidance in determining the audit procedures to be performed on the information to be used for substantive analytical procedures.


Matters relevant to the auditor’s evaluation of whether the expectation can be developed sufficiently precisely to identify a misstatement that, when aggregated with other misstatements, may cause the financial statements to be materially misstated, include:
  1. The accuracy with which the expected results of substantive analytical procedures can be predicted.
    For example, the auditor may expect greater consistency in comparing gross profit margins from one period to another than in comparing discretionary expenses, such as research or advertising.
  2. The degree to which information can be disaggregated.
    For example, substantive analytical procedures may be more effective when applied to financial information on individual sections of an operation or to financial statements of components of a diversified entity, than when applied to the financial statements of the entity as a whole.
  3. The availability of the information, both financial and non-financial.
    For example, the auditor may consider whether financial information, such as budgets or forecasts, and non-financial information, such as the number of units produced or sold, is available to design substantive analytical procedures. If the information is available, the auditor may also consider the reliability of the information.


The auditor’s determination of the amount of difference from the expectation that can be accepted without further investigation is influenced by materiality and the consistency with the desired level of assurance, taking account of the possibility that a misstatement, individually or when aggregated with other misstatements, may cause the financial statements to be materially misstated.

SA 330 requires the auditor to obtain more persuasive audit evidence the higher the auditor’s assessment of risk. Accordingly, as the assessed risk increases, the amount of difference considered acceptable without investigation decreases in order to achieve the desired level of persuasive evidence


If analytical procedures performed in accordance with SA 520 identify fluctuations or relationships that are inconsistent with other relevant information or that differ from expected values by a significant amount, the auditor shall investigate such differences by:
  1. Inquiring of management and obtaining appropriate audit evidence relevant to management’s responses: Audit evidence relevant to management’s responses may be obtained by evaluating those responses taking into account the auditor’s understanding of the entity and its environment, and with other audit evidence obtained during the course of the audit.
  2. Performing other audit procedures as necessary in the circumstances: The need to perform other audit procedures may arise when, for example, management is unable to provide an explanation, or the  explanation, together with the audit evidence obtained relevant to management’s response, is not considered adequate.


The conclusions drawn from the results of analytical procedures designed and performed in accordance with, are intended to corroborate conclusions formed during the audit of individual components or elements of the financial statements. This assists the auditor to draw reasonable conclusions on which to base the auditor’s opinion.

The results of such analytical procedures may identify a previously unrecognised risk of material misstatement. In such circumstances, SA 315 requires the auditor  to revise the auditor’s assessment of the risks of material misstatement and modify the further planned audit procedures accordingly

Students may note that Analytical Procedures assisting for forming an overall conclusion will be discussed in details at Final level.


The relationships between individual financial statements items traditionally considered in the audit of business entities may not always be relevant in the audit of governments or other non-business public sector entities; for example, in many public sector entities there may be little direct relationship between revenue and expenditure. In addition, because expenditure on the acquisition of assets may not be capitalized, there may be  no relationship between expenditures on, for example, inventories and fixed assets and the amount of those assets reported in the financial statements. Also, industry data or statistics for comparative purposes may not be available in the public sector. However, other relationships may be relevant, for example, variations in the cost per kilometer of road construction or the number of vehicles acquired compared with vehicles retired.
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