Every year, audit firms receive quality review report cards. Some are good, some are bad, but are these reports useful, asks Philip Smith

It might not be the highlight of every large accountancy firm's calendar, but once a year the audit profession gets to see its school report and to be told it could do better. Big Four auditors and their peers in the larger mid-tier firms will be graded on their performance – some will be at the top of the class, others will have to stay behind and do extra work.

For the best part of a decade, the work of large audit firms has been the subject of detailed, independent reviews – the Financial Reporting Council's Audit Quality Review Team (AQRT), previously known as the Audit Inspection Unit (AIU) until last year, has to date picked over the files of more than 800 audits, including those of 145 FTSE 100 and 192 FTSE 250 companies.

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