One-off internship in audit assignments
The Auditing and Assurance Standards Board has published the Philippine Auditing Practice Note (PAPN) 001, Series of 2021, Guidance on the Tasks and Activities of Student Stagiers in an Audit Engagement. This is intended to guide host audit firms / practitioners, students and other relevant parties as to the tasks that may be assigned to student interns as part of their on-the-job training (OJT). Over the years and in academic institutions and partner organizations in government and business, many individual initiatives have been taken to improve the OJT of student interns. However, no specific guidelines as to the limits and scope of the tasks that may be assigned to student interns have been identified.
This PAPN specifies the tasks that can be assigned to student interns for optimal experiential learning without compromising audit quality, ethics, confidentiality, and compliance with professional standards, laws and regulations, among others. The student interns mentioned in this PAPN refer to those taking a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting, a Bachelor of Internal Auditing, a Bachelor of Management, and a Bachelor of Information System. To adapt to its time, it also included some considerations on the digital and virtual performance of internship activities.
Certain training courses for student interns have also been included in this PAPN on the following themes: autonomy; integrity; data confidentiality and information protection; Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, Auditing Tools and Practices (including a discussion of the virtual audit approach in a work-from-home setting); and any other training that audit firms deem appropriate.
Dale Carnegie once said, “Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. Only the knowledge used remains engraved in your mind. I appreciate that this PAPN emphasizes learning by doing by describing specific permitted tasks such as footing, cross footing, proofreading and referencing internal notes on financial statements. Student interns can also disinfect and preprocess data, import and run simple data analysis routines, and perform bonding on simple vouchers. As a general rule, as long as this does not contravene the requirements of the PAPN, student interns may be assigned such tasks. Considering the shortage of manpower in audit firms these days, performing tasks like these is very useful and helps to improve the quality of our work economically while adding of value to student interns in their immersion in public practice.
This PAPN also underlined certain limits as to the nature of the tasks and the scope of the role of a student-intern in an audit mission. To name a few, student interns should not be considered part of the audit engagement team and they cannot perform tasks involving complex areas of an audit engagement and where professional judgment is applied. They are also not allowed to sign working documents but can help with their preparation.
It is also important to note that this PAPN obliges host audit firms to comply with certain documentary requirements for its internship program, such as the execution of a duly notarized memorandum of understanding that complies with this PAPN, a learning and work plan in accordance with this PAPN, and a commitment to strictly maintain the confidentiality of information during and after the internship period, and to comply with independence requirements.
Overall, PAPN 001 is a proactive and win-win solution to align academic requirements with the labor market in public practice. Along with the evolution of the Certified Public Accountant’s License Examination (Cpale) program, it is evident that concrete actions are being taken to prepare future accountants not only to take the Cpale, but to become competent members. , ethical and value-added accounting. and the business community. It is also interesting to note that student interns who specialize in internal audit, management and information systems fall within the scope of the PAPN. As we move forward, collaborating with professionals in these settings may become more common, especially now that we can’t help but evolve our practice to become more technologically savvy.
Kristine Ismael is a partner of Ismael and Co., CPA based in Baguio City. She is also an active member of the Association of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice. The opinions expressed in this article are personal to the author and do not represent those of the organizations with which she is related.