What happens if Family or Close Relationships exist between an Auditor and the Client?

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Where family or close relationship ties between an auditor and their client, three different sorts of conflicts might arise that threaten the auditor’s independence and objectivity.

These threats are as follows:

  • Self-Review Threat;
  • Familiarity Threat; or
  • Intimidation Threat.

Example: Self-Review Threat

An accountant suggested a new strategy to an organisation she prepared the accounts for.

She has since been asked to examine the strategy to see if it has succeeded. She, therefore, faces major self-review threats to her professional ethics.

Example: Familiarity Threat

An accountant has been asked to work on the accounts for an organisation currently managed by his wife, exposing him to a Familiarity threat.

Example: Intimidation Threat

Susan is an external auditor, and she has been threatened by her client, ABC Ltd., to provide different recommendations for its financial statement. Susan faces intimidation threats that hurt her professionally.



  • 自我审查威胁:指自我复核的威胁,指的是如果审计师去审查自己的工作成果,那么很容易有失公允。
  • 熟悉性威胁:是指审计师对于被审计单位的情况非常熟悉,就很可能失去一些应有的职业怀疑;同时,被审计单位对于审计师审计流程的熟悉,也一定程度上给舞弊提供了条件;或
  • 恐吓性威胁:是由恐吓产生的威胁。包括形式上(光说不练型)和实质上(说了也确实以实际行动对审计师进行恐吓)

例子: 自我审查威胁



例子: 熟悉性威胁


例子: 恐吓性威胁

苏珊是一名外部审计师,她受到了她的客户 ABC 有限公司的威胁,要求她为其财务报表提供不同的建议。苏珊面临的恐吓威胁导致她的职业受到伤害。

When an immediate family member or a member of the audit team is:

  • A director or officer of the audit client; or
  • An employee that can exert influence over the preparation of the client’s accounting records or the financial statements on which the firm will express an opinion,

then the individual in question must be removed from the audit team.

If the individual in question is not removed from the audit team, no other safeguards can be established since the closeness of such a connection will not reduce the threat to an acceptable level.


  • 审计客户的董事或高级职员;或
  • 能够对客户的会计记录或事务所将发表意见的财务报表的编制施加影响的雇员。



Also, a former audit team members may have accepted a job with the audit client.

This possibility exists in addition to the possibility that a member of the audit client’s family or close circle of friends may be involved.

Under these conditions, there is a good chance that one’s independence will be jeopardised to the point where it will be difficult, if not impossible, to bring the threat down to a level that may be considered acceptable.




Therefore, independence would be considered to have been compromised if a former member of the audit team or the audit partner joined the audit client as a director or officer; or as an employee with the ability to exert influence over the accounting records and financial statements to which the audit firm will express an opinion.

However, there are a few exceptions to the rules governing this threat. For instance, the individual is not eligible for any benefits or payments from the firm unless such benefits or payments are made under certain pre-determined procedures and when any sum owing to the individual is not significant to the firm.

One such illustration would be the scenario in which the person in question does not participate in the firm’s business or professional activities.




Section 521.7 A1 of the By-Laws (on Professional Ethics, Conduct and Practice) of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants set out factors that are relevant in evaluating the level of self-interest, familiarity or intimidation threat created by such a relationship, including:-

  • The nature of the relationship between the individual and the audit team member.
  • The position the individual holds with the client.
  • The role of the audit team member.

An example of an action that might be a safeguard to address such a self-interest, familiarity or intimidation threat is structuring the responsibilities of the audit team so that the audit team member does not deal with matters that are within the responsibility of the individual with whom the audit team member has a close relationship.

马来西亚会计师公会(关于职业道德、行为和实践)守则第 521.7 A1 条规定了在评估这种关系所造成的自我利益、熟悉程度或恐吓威胁程度时的相关因素,包括:

  • 个人与审计组成员之间关系的性质。
  • 个人在客户中的地位。
  • 审计组成员的角色。


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