About the Profession
In Germany, Wirtschaftsprüfer are members of a profession. Pursuant to § [Article] 2(1) Wirtschaftsprüferordnung [German Law Regulating the Profession of Wirtschaftsprüfer– WPO] their professional duty is to "carry out examinations of businesses, and in particular to perform audits of annual financial statements of business enterprises, and to issue auditor's reports on the conduct and the results of such audit engagements".
In addition, Wirtschaftsprüfer are also entitled to provide tax advice and represent their clients in tax matters, act in the capacity of experts in all areas of business management, trusteeship and, in particular, to advise on financial matters.
On account of their training, Wirtschaftsprüfer are also authorized to provide legal advice on matters with which they are concerned professionally, insofar as this directly relates to their professional duties. In performing their work, Wirtschaftsprüfer are required to strictly adhere to ethical standards, which include independence, conscientiousness, confidentiality and personal responsibility.
Before being officially appointed as a Wirtschaftsprüfer, candidates must pass stringent professional examinations. After passing the examinations applicants are appointed as Wirtschaftsprüfer whereupon they receive a certificate issued by the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer [Chamber of Public Accountants - WPK]. Prior to being awarded the certificate, applicants must swear the professional oath before the Wirtschaftsprüferkammer. The wording of the oath pursuant to § [Article] 17 WPO [Wirtschaftsprüferordnung - German Law Regulating the Profession of Wirtschaftsprüfer], which can also be sworn without a religious affirmation, is: "I do solemnly swear to responsibly and diligently uphold the duties of Wirtschaftsprüfer, in particular to maintain confidentiality and to prepare long-form audit reports and professional opinions conscientiously and without prejudice, so help me God."