Wirtschaftsprüferkammer (WPK) is a corporation under public law, whose members are all Wirtschaftsprüfer [German public accountants], vereidigte Buchprüfer [German sworn auditors], Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaften [German public audit firms] and Buchprüfungsgesellschaften [German firms of sworn auditors], in Germany.
In order to ensure that the expectations of the general public and the state are met by members of the profession, the WPK is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. The Ministry monitors whether WPK, in carrying out its duties, adheres to laws and charters.
The independent public oversight is exercised by Auditor Oversight Body (AOB), which is established at the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA). AOB is exclusively responsible for the disciplinary oversight and the inspections of audit engagements of public interest entities according to § 319a para. 1 sentence 1 HGB (German Commercial Code). WPK is operating throughout Germany and represented by the head office in Berlin and six regional offices located in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart, in the form of legally dependent branches. The duties conferred upon WPK by law are in particular:
- Representation of the interests and positions of the profession towards the public and policymakers as well as
- Serving as a point of contact for its members
- Appointment of auditors as well as recognition of audit firms along with their revocation
- Registration as statutory auditor, as well as registration of third country and EU/EEA auditors
- Disciplinary oversight except for audit engagements of public interest entities (PIEs)
- Performance of the quality assurance procedures at audit firms, as far as audit engagements of public interest entities are not concerned
- Conduct of the nationwide Wirtschaftsprüfer examination (professional examination)
- Enactment of professional rules in the form of professional charters
These and further WPK duties are governed by law in § 57 WPO (Public Accountant Act). Please refer to "About the WPK > Duties" for additional details.
The general public considers the work of auditors, especially the statutory audit of companies, to be of great significance. By reliably fulfilling this duty, the profession performs a vital role towards the smooth functioning of the economy. That is why the requirements on the profession of auditors are particularly stringent in terms of the general professional principles of independence, conscientiousness, confidentiality, and personal responsibility.
The supervisory and organisational structure is illustrated as follows
- In the following, for reasons of simplification, these groups will be referred to as „auditors“ and “audit firms”.