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Auditor (1762)

Wirtschaftsprüfer (often abbreviated WP ) is a free profession and a public office . The tasks of auditors include, among other things, the auditing of the proper bookkeeping of a company and the examination of the annual financial statements and consolidated financial statements as well as the (group) management report that comply with the relevant regulations .


The profession of auditor in Germany arose from the 1st implementing ordinance for the ordinance of the Reich President on stock corporation law , banking supervision and tax amnesty on December 15, 1931. Auditors had to be publicly appointed and audit firms had to be registered.

The federal states of the German Reich established “the legal and institutional framework” for the new profession. In 1931 twelve approval and examination offices for auditors were created.

At the beginning of 1932 there were around 280 auditors in Germany and 32 auditing firms registered.

A museum , in which the history of the auditing profession is presented, is currently being set up as part of a private initiative in Helmbrechts ( Upper Franconia ) and is due to open in 2019.

Legal situation in Germany

job profile

The following tasks primarily determine the professional profile (cf. § 2 Wirtschaftsprüferordnung (WPO)):

  • Examination activity : Auditors carry out business examinations ( § 2 Paragraph 1 WPO). Decisively shapes while the reserved task that prescribed by law examination of financial statements and management reports and consolidated financial statements conduct and consolidated management reports and audit reports or to refuse to issue on the execution and the results of such tests. This also includes audits of annual and consolidated financial statements prepared in accordance with internationally recognized accounting principles and other statutory audits, such as special audits in accordance with the German Stock Corporation Act .

Due to his special qualifications, the auditor is also regularly assigned other business management reviews, such as due diligence reviews and embezzlement reviews.

  • Assessor / expert opinions : Also for the profession's activities as a consultant or expert is standard in all areas of economic management, to for example, the business valuation matters
  • Legal advice : In matters with which the auditor is professionally concerned, which are directly related to his tasks and which he cannot properly deal with without legal advice, the auditor is also authorized to provide legal advice.
  • Tax advice : One of the professional reserved tasks is unlimited (business-like) assistance in tax matters, i.e. tax advice. It also includes the right to represent taxpayers before the tax authorities and tax courts .
  • Management Consulting : Consulting in business and economic matters also one of the duties of the auditor.

Professional duties

Due to the special responsibility that the auditor assumes through his / her duties, there may be a few a. to fulfill the following professional duties (cf. § 43 , § 43a and § 49 WPO).

  • Professional conduct: The auditor has to prove himself worthy of the trust and respect that the profession requires, both inside and outside his professional activity.
  • Personal responsibility: The auditor is required to exercise his profession independently. He has to determine his actions on his own responsibility, to form his own judgment and to make his own decisions. This professional principle can no longer be complied with in the large auditing companies by individually employed auditors, it is therefore complied with as a whole by the respective auditing company.
  • Conscientiousness : The auditor has to exercise his profession conscientiously. Orders are to be processed properly. When hiring employees, their professional and personal suitability must be checked. Employees are to be informed about their professional duties (in particular confidentiality), and their appropriate practical and theoretical training and further education is to be ensured.
  • Independence : the auditor must be independent, i. H. be free from ties that influence or could impair professional freedom of choice.
  • Impartiality : The function of the audit requires that the auditor is free of influences, commitments and considerations in his findings, assessments and decisions - regardless of whether they are of a personal, economic or legal nature.
  • Impartiality : The auditor must behave impartially in the auditing work and in providing expert opinions.
  • Confidentiality : The duty of confidentiality forms the basis for the relationship of trust with the client. All facts and circumstances entrusted to the auditor during his professional activity must not be disclosed to unauthorized persons.

Admission process

Admission as a chartered accountant requires a state examination . Anyone who is admitted to the exam

In addition to the exam, proof of personal requirements must be provided ( Section 16 WPO), in particular

  • the conclusion of a financial loss liability insurance ,
  • the right to hold public office,
  • orderly financial circumstances,
  • health fitness and
  • Behavior in conformity with professional obligations.

The licensing procedure is carried out nationwide by the Chamber of Public Accountants . She appoints the candidates who have passed the exam and takes the swearing in. According to this, the professional title Wirtschaftsprüfer / -in may be used. The obligation to seal applies when fulfilling the reserved tasks .

The examination is considered to be a very demanding professional examination, its contents are laid down in § 4 of the Auditor Examination Ordinance (WiPrPrüfV). Examination areas are

The exam consists of a written and an oral part and is offered every six months. The written part comprises seven supervisory papers (one in the subject of business law and two each in the other examination areas) with a duration of four to six hours. Achieving a certain average grade entitles you to participate in the oral part. Depending on the final grade, the committee can order a supplementary examination in one or two examination areas. A supplementary examination requires you to participate again in the written and oral part of an examination date (usually in the following year) in the relevant examination area. The entire examination (if the required average grade for admission to the oral examination is not achieved, if the oral examination fails or if the supplementary examination is not passed) can be repeated twice.

A shortening is possible for tax advisors . They can have their tax advisor exam credited as an examination in tax law according to § 13 WPO. Qualified lawyers , economics and business administration , however, the so-called full examination must pass.

An exception is the successful completion of a master’s degree in economics within the meaning of § 13b WPO. Successful graduates of such a "degree program recognized as particularly suitable for training professionals" receive up to three of the total of seven examinations in the WP exam recognized or waived. Currently accredited, among others, the Master's programs Master in Auditing at the University of Lüneburg , Auditing, Finance and Taxation (MAFT) of the University of Osnabrück / Münster University , the Mannheim Master of Accounting & Taxation of Mannheim Business School and the Master's program Auditing and Taxation of Pforzheim University . In addition, § 13b WPO allows crediting of individual examinations in the context of a university education if the equivalence of the examination achievement in content, form and scope with the requirements listed in § 4 WPO is determined by the examination office in the admission procedure. The significantly larger number of study programs currently accredited by the WPK according to § 13b WPO is listed here.

In order to create transparency with regard to the extensive examination material, the IDW / WPK working group reform of the auditing examination has specified the content of the examination areas. The publication is to be understood as a recommendation for everyone involved in training and exams.

The failure rates of the exams have remained consistently high over the years, around half of all examinees fail. The average pass rate between 2004 and 2017 was 53.6%.

Labor status

According to § 45 sentence 1 WPO, auditors as employees of auditing companies should have the legal status of authorized signatories. In 2007, the law to strengthen professional supervision and to reform professional regulations in the Wirtschaftsprüferordnung added that salaried auditors count as executive employees within the meaning of Section 5 (3) BetrVG .

The status of executive employee in the case of salaried auditors means that various employee rights (such as the Working Hours Act , collective agreements , works agreements , active and passive voting rights in works council elections ) no longer apply to the employed auditor .

The Federal Labor Court has ruled that § 45 sentence 2 i. V. m. Sentence 1 WPO is to be understood as restrictive in accordance with the constitution, so that the area exemption from the works constitution only applies to employed auditors with power of attorney.

The committees of the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer have proposed the deletion of section 45 sentence 2 WPO (salaried WP / vBP as managerial staff within the meaning of section 5 (3) BetrVG). This proposal was sent to the Federal Ministry of Economics as part of the WPO amendment proposals in a letter dated March 21, 2012.

Chartered Accountant in the United States

See also


  • Reinhard Goerdeler : The auditing profession and the statutory final examination in the countries of the EEC. In: Die Wirtschaftsprüfung 28 (1975), pp. 402-410.
  • Harald Helmschrott, Claus Buhleier: The job of the auditor. Activity, application and career entry . 1st edition. R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich / Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-486-24743-3 .
  • Anja Bierwirth, Heinz Dennenwaldt u. a .: career start tax & WP (=  practical practice ). 1st edition. DSV Studenten Verlag, St. Gallen 1999, ISBN 3-905440-38-5 (Distribution: Forum Verlag, Konstanz).
  • Volker Mayer: Handbuch Wirtschaftsprüfungsexamen (series), Commercial Law Volume 1: Legal business theory, obligations, commercial transactions . 1st edition. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-17-030513-7 .
  • Volker Mayer: Commercial Law Volume 2: Property Law, Insolvency Law, International Private Law . 1st edition. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-17-030709-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c IDW (Ed.): 75 years of auditors at IDW - thinking together, shaping together, taking responsibility together. IDW-Verlag, November 2007, ISBN 978-3-8021-1318-5 .
  2. Internet site for the Wirtschaftsprüfermuseum
  3. WPK: Degree courses
  4. WPK: Degree courses
  5. WPK: Specification of examination areas ( memento of the original from May 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. WPK: [1] Total overviews of WP since 2004 - number of candidates, examination participants, type of examination
  7. Act to Strengthen Professional Supervision and Reform Professional Regulations in the Auditor Regulations ( Federal Law Gazette 2007 I p. 2178 )
  8. BAG, decision of June 29, 2011, 7 ABR 15/10 full text
  9. cf. WPK Magazine 2/2012, p. 17 and p. 18, available at