How do you become an auditor?

Auditor (WP)


According to § 1 I 1 of the Act on the Professional Code of Public Accountants (Wirtschaftsprüferordnung (WPO)), auditors are persons who are publicly appointed as such.

Job position

Free occupation (§ 1 II WPO). Order only with proof of personal and professional suitability in the state approval and examination procedure (§ 1 I 2 WPO). Professional establishment (place of business; Section 3 I WPO) in Germany or abroad; Professional services are also possible abroad, provided that the law of the host country does not conflict with this. Branch offices in Germany and abroad, professional management by a local auditor required (§§ 3 III, 43a, 47 WPO). Profession can be practiced both independently and in an employment relationship. The legally protected designation “Wirtschaftsprüfer” is to be used in professional dealings; Academic degrees, titles and additions that indicate a state graduation are also possible (§ 18 WPO).

tasks and activities

According to § 2 WPO, auditors have the professional task of business management Exams, Above all, to carry out annual audits of commercial companies and to issue auditors' opinions on their execution and results. In addition, they are authorized to advise and represent their clients in tax matters in accordance with the existing regulations, to act as experts in the fields of economic management, to advise on economic matters and to protect third-party interests as well as for fiduciary administration (Trusteeship). In addition, other activities are compatible with the profession of auditor according to § 43a IV WPO, such as free professional practice in the field of technology and law, work at scientific institutes and teaching at universities, freelance writing and artistic work and freelance contract work.


1. Observance ofProfessional principles for auditors (principles of the practice of the auditing profession).

2. Failure to perform incompatible activities: No activity that jeopardizes compliance with professional obligations or can damage the reputation or dignity of the profession (Section 43 II WPO). No commercial activities; no activities based on a non-professional employment contract with a few exceptions (§ 43a III WPO).

3. Behavior in the event of announcement and order protection: When announcing his activity and when accepting the assignment, the auditor is obliged to behave in a professional manner; unfair advertising is not permitted (Section 52 WPO). The auditor may only become active in a matter in which he or a person or a partnership with whom he jointly exercises his profession, if there is a change of client, if both the previous and the new client agree (§ 53 WPO). If they work at the same time, cooperation should be sought.

4. Seal guide: According to § 48 I WPO, auditors are obliged to use a seal if they make declarations in their professional capacity due to legal regulations. They can use a seal if they make statements about examination results or give reports in their professional capacity.

5. Participation in external quality control(§ 57a WPO): Auditors who carry out statutory audits must undergo a quality control every three years. With the entry into force of the Professional Oversight Reform Act (BARefG) on September 6, 2007, this cycle was extended to six years for auditors who do not conduct audits of companies in the public interest within the meaning of Section 319a of the German Commercial Code (HGB).

6. Other duties:
(1) The auditor must refuse his activity if it is to be used for a breach of duty or if there is concern about bias in the performance of an engagement (Section 49 WPO).
(2) If an auditor does not want to accept an assignment, he must declare this immediately. In the event of a culpable delay, he is liable for damages (§ 51 WPO).
(3) Independent auditors and auditing firms are obliged to take out insurance against liability risks arising from their work (Section 54 I WPO).

Requirements for ordering

Public appointment of the auditor upon request after passing the specialist examination. Admission to the examination with evidence of professional and personal suitability. Admission and examination procedures are regulated in the WPO and the examination regulations for auditors (PrüfO WP). There are general regulations for the normal exam; In addition, access to the auditing profession is regulated for special cases (easier access) for certain applicants with tax advisor or lawyer qualifications and especially aptitude test for members of comparable auditing professions from other EU and EEA countries.

1. General admission and examination regulations (previously): a) Application: The “Examination Office for the Auditor's Examination at the Chamber of Public Accountants” (Examination Office; § 5 WPO) decides on admission to the examination. Written application for admission to the examination to the examination office (§ 7 WPO).

b) Technical admission requirements:
(1) Previous education (§ 8 WPO): The prerequisite is a completed university education; this can be dispensed with with many years of practical experience. The prerequisite is at least ten years of activity as an employee of an auditor, an auditing company, a sworn auditor, an auditing company, a cooperative auditing association, the auditing office of a savings bank and giro association or a supra-local auditing facility for corporations and institutions under public law. In addition, a non-existing university education can be replaced by at least five years of activity as a sworn accountant or tax advisor. Since the fifth amendment to the WPO came into force, it has also been possible to recognize job-specific training courses (Section 8a WPO).
(2) Practical admission requirements (§ 9 WPO): Admission requires that the applicant has received sufficient practical training. At least three years of examination activity must be proven with a university semester of at least eight semesters; four years if the number of university semesters is less than eight semesters (§ 9 I WPO). The applicant has to take part in final examinations (especially required by law) for at least two years from the entire activity and participate in the drafting of the examination reports.

The examination is to be performed by employees without a university education and with at least ten years of practical experience after the fifth year of employment. Applicants who have worked as sworn auditors or tax consultants for at least five years must complete the examination during this time or during the three-year practical period required for admission.

The requirement of auditing is fulfilled by all applicants if they have carried out material book and balance sheet audits according to business principles in external companies (§ 9 II WPO).

The auditing work must be carried out in collaboration with members of the profession, an auditing company, sworn accountants, an auditing company, a cooperative auditing association, an auditing office of a savings bank and giro association or a supra-local auditing facility for corporations and institutions under public law in which a professional is active be (§ 9 III WPO).

Proof of auditing is not required for applicants who have been working as tax consultants or sworn auditors for at least 15 years; An activity as a tax agent can be credited for up to ten years (§ 9 IV WPO).

An audit activity (internal audit) as well as other professionally relevant activities can be credited to the audit activity for up to one year in accordance with § 9 V WPO.

Practical work performed within recognized job-specific training courses (§ 8a WPO) can be credited up to a maximum duration of one year (§ 9 VI WPO).

c) Exam: Examination with written and oral part to be taken before the examination board (§ 12 WPO). Tax consultants and applicants who have passed the tax consultant examination do not require an examination in tax law (Section 13 WPO). For sworn auditors, an abridged version of the examination. Sworn accountants who are tax consultants do not require an examination in tax law or in applied business administration and economics; Sworn accountants who are lawyers do not require an examination in business law or in applied business administration and economics (§ 13a WPO).

Examination achievements that are performed as part of a university education are to be taken into account if their equivalence in content, form and scope with the requirements of the examination areas of applied business administration, economics or commercial law listed in § 4 PrüfO Wirtschaftsprüfer is determined by the examination office in the admission procedure (§ 13b WPO ).

2. Access to the auditing profession in special cases: Reliefs for members of comparable professions from the member states of the EU and the EEA (§§ 131g ff. WPO) result from the implementation of the higher education diploma directive, which also provides for the mutual recognition of corresponding professional qualifications. Upon submission of a diploma from a citizen of a member state of the EU and the EEA, which shows that the holder has the necessary professional prerequisites for direct admission to the statutory audit of annual financial statements and other accounting documents in the member state, he can after passing an aptitude test as an auditor be ordered. Aptitude test is primarily a legal test, including e.g. accounting regulations of the HGB, tax and commercial law regulations and professional law (§ 131h III WPO). Admission decision by the examination office (§ 131g III WPO).


After passing the examination, the applicant is appointed as an auditor upon request by handing over a certificate issued by the Chamber of Public Accountants (WPK) (§ 15 WPO). Order must fail be when
(1) the applicant has reasons for which his admission to the examination should have been refused;
(2) the provisional cover letter for the application to take out professional liability insurance is not available.

Exception: Exclusive employment according to § 43a I WPO.
(3) If an activity that is incompatible with the profession of auditor is carried out;
(4) if the applicant is guilty of behavior that would justify exclusion from the profession;
(5) if the applicant is not only temporarily unable to exercise the profession properly for health or other reasons;
(6) if the applicant is in a disorderly economic situation, in particular in financial collapse;
(7) Immediately after the appointment, no professional branch is given to the professional register. Order can fail if the behavior of the applicant gives rise to concern that the professional duties as an auditor are not fulfilled (§ 16 II WPO). Before handing over the certificate, the applicant has to take a professional oath. Order goes out by death, resignation or legally binding exclusion from the profession (§ 19 WPO). Order must be in accordance with § 20 I WPO withdrawn become, if subsequent facts become known, with whose knowledge the order should have been denied. Order must be in accordance with § 20 II WPO withdraw if the activity is not carried out on one's own responsibility or an activity incompatible with the auditing profession is carried out, the ability to hold public office is no longer given, the proper professional exercise is permanently impossible for health reasons, the prescribed liability insurance is not maintained or this is within the last five years has repeatedly not been maintained for a significant period of time and this omission is to be feared in the future as well, furthermore in the event of disordered economic circumstances or if a professional establishment (§ 3 I WPO) is not maintained.

Reappointment a former auditor is possible (§ 23 WPO).

Professional organization

Wirtschaftsprüferkammer, whose board is also responsible for professional supervision.

See also Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer in Deutschland e.V. (IDW).

Professional jurisdiction

1. Breach of duty (§§ 67–71 WPO): A professional judicial measure will be imposed on an auditor who culpably breaches his duties. These include fines of up to 500,000 euros, a ban on working in certain areas of activity for a period of between one and five years, a ban on an occupation of between one and five years, and exclusion from the profession. The prosecution of a breach of duty that would not have justified a more severe professional judicial penalty than warning, reprimand or fine of up to EUR 500,000 expires after five years. Criminal proceedings initiated on the basis of the same facts will inhibit the expiry of the limitation period.

2. Professional courts (§§ 72–80 WPO): a) In the first instance, a chamber at the LG Berlin (Chamber for Auditing Matters) decides outside of the main hearing in the composition of three members; in the main hearing with the chairman and two auditors as assessors.

b) In the second instance, a senate at the Berlin Chamber of Commerce (Senate for auditing matters) decides outside the main hearing with three members; two auditors also take part in the main hearing as assessors.

c) In the third instance, a Senate of the Federal Court of Justice (Senate for auditing matters), which is composed of a chairman, two members of the Federal Court of Justice and two auditors as assessors. - The office of one Assessor from the ranks of the auditors is one Volunteering. The honorary assessors are appointed for the courts of first and second instance by the state justice administration, for the Federal Court of Justice by the Federal Minister of Justice for five years; Appointments are made on the basis of lists of proposals submitted by the board of the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer (Section 75 WPO). Only an auditor who can be elected to the board of the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer can be appointed. Voluntary assessors may not simultaneously belong to the board of directors or the advisory board of the Chamber of Public Accountants or work full-time or part-time for the Chamber of Public Accountants. Right to refuse under certain conditions (§ 76 WPO).

3. Procedure: Modeled on the Code of Criminal Procedure, but no precedence of criminal proceedings over professional court proceedings. The accused may not be provisionally arrested, arrested or brought before the execution; he cannot be taken to a psychiatric hospital to prepare an expert report on his psychiatric condition (Section 82 WPO). Defenders in professional court proceedings before the regional court and the higher regional court can also be auditors (Section 82a WPO). The board of directors of the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer, persons commissioned by it and professional members who are accused of violating their duties have the right to inspect files (Section 82b WPO). For the decision in professional court proceedings, the actual findings of the judgment in criminal or fine proceedings are binding (§ 83 WPO). The suspension of professional judicial proceedings is permissible under certain conditions (Section 83b WPO), as is the resumption of proceedings that have already been legally concluded (Section 83c WPO). The tasks of the public prosecutor's office are performed by the public prosecutor's office at the Berlin Chamber of Commerce (Section 84 WPO). The Wirtschaftsprüferkammer, courts or authorities are obliged to report breaches of professional or criminal law to the responsible public prosecutor. If the public prosecutor becomes aware of possibly culpable breaches of professional law by a member of the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer, it will inform the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer and give it the opportunity to comment before initiating professional judicial proceedings (Section 84a WPO).

introduction of the proceedings by the public prosecutor submitting a letter of accusation to the LG Berlin (Section 85 WPO). The member of the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer, subject to professional jurisdiction, can exempt himself from suspicion of a breach of duty by applying to the public prosecutor to initiate professional judicial proceedings against himself (Section 87 WPO).

Based on the allegation, the court decides whether a Main proceedings is to be opened; this is not public. At the request of the public prosecutor can or at the request of the professional members concerned got to the public are established (§ 99 WPO). The main hearing closes with the announcement of the Judgment, which reads on acquittal, conviction or discontinuation of the proceedings (§ 103 WPO).

4. Legal remedies (§§ 104-108 WPO): a) Appeal against the judgment of the Chamber for Auditing Matters to the Senate for Auditing Matters within one week of the announcement of the judgment (§ 105 WPO).

b) Against a judgment of the Senate for Auditing Matters at the Higher Regional Court on appeal to the Federal Court of Justice, e.g. if the judgment is for exclusion from the profession or if the Senate for Auditing Matters has approved the appeal in the judgment (Section 107 WPO).

5. Professional ban: If there are urgent reasons to believe that the auditor will be excluded from the profession, a provisional professional ban can be imposed on him by resolution (§ 111 WPO). If the auditor knowingly violates this prohibition, he is generally punished with exclusion from the profession (Section 117 WPO).