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AICPA proposes changes in quality management standards By  Michael Cohn February 05, 2021, 5:15 p.m. EST The American Institute of CPAs is proposing to revise its quality management standards to take a more risk-based approach targeted at the types of engagements performed by the CPA firm. The AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board issued an exposure draft Thursday of a set of three interrelated proposed standards to address how CPA firms should manage the quality of their accounting and auditing practices. The AICPA said the changes would improve the scalability of the standards and promote a system tailored to the firm and its engagements. The proposed changes come at a time when the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has also proposed changes in its quality management standards for auditing firms. The PCAOB proposals use as a starting point the quality management standards issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board last year. While their standards would apply to public companies, the AICPA’s could be used by private companies seeking assurance on their financial statements. Increasingly auditing standards take more of a risk-based approach to target them better and allow them to be used more efficiently. “As the environment in which practitioners offer services becomes more diverse, it’s more important than ever for CPA firms to tailor their quality management processes to their circumstances and maintain and enhance audit quality,” said AICPA Auditing Standards Board chair Tracy Harding in a statement. “Our proposed revisions to the quality management standards offer CPA firms a framework for developing a quality management system that addresses each firm’s practice. The framework is converged with international standards so that firms performing engagements under those standards and generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) use a consistent approach to quality management.” The exposure draft aligns with the IAASB quality management standards. The proposed changes include using the term “quality management” instead of “quality control” and “engagement quality review” instead of “engagement quality control review” in the current standards. Proposed Statement on Quality Management Standards (SQMS) A Firm’s System of Quality Management Proposed Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) Quality Management for an Engagement Conducted in Accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards The proposed standards would supersede Statement on Quality Control Standards No. 8, as well as create a new quality management section in the AICPA Professional Standards and supersede SAS No. 122, as amended, section 220, Quality Control for an Engagement Conducted in Accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards . The AICPA is asking for feedback on the proposed standards by June 11. Comments can be sent to The Auditing Standards Board plans to start addressing the feedback it receives at its July 26-29 meeting, and devote the entire Aug. 11 meeting to further consideration of the comments.

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Following a string of major, highly-publicised corporate collapses (including Thomas Cook, Carillion and BHS) which shook the credibility of directors’ reporting and the statutory audit regime, the government commissioned three independent reviews: Sir Donald Brydon’s independent review of the quality and effectiveness of audit which concluded that statutory audits need to become more informative, and higher expectations are required for both directors and auditors to deliver more useful information The white paper proposals (which are firmly based on the findings of these three reports) aim to: Restore stakeholder and public trust in the way that the UK’s most significant corporate entities are run and scrutinised (by ensuring that they are governed responsibly and subjected to robust, challenging external audit) Empower investors, creditors, workers and other stakeholders by giving them access to reliable and meaningful information on a company’s performance Help companies to become stronger and better equipped to face future challenges Enable enquiry the UK to remain a premier global centre for investment by keeping our legal frameworks for major businesses at the forefront of international best practice Increase choice and quality in the audit market The key areas of the proposed reforms are summarised below. The proposed new measures focus on Public Interest Entities (PIEs). Currently the definition of a PIE covers predominantly publicly listed companies. In the consultation, the government acknowledges that an extended definition is required to capture not just large public companies, but also any entities in whose health and performance the wider public has significant interest. It is therefore proposed that the definition be extended to include the largest private companies (in the nature of BHS prior to its collapse) as well as large AIM quoted companies (like Patisserie Valerie, which fell outside the current regulatory regime prior to its demise). Views are sought on other types of entity that could also be included in the new PIE definition, including third sector entities with a public benefit purpose. The white paper acknowledges that the FRC currently has no meaningful statutory basis for its work or objectives and inadequate enforcement powers which prevents it from being a “modern pro-active regulator”. The consultation therefore sets out the framework for establishing a new, strengthened regulator to replace the FRC: the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA). ARGA will be funded by a statutory levy, governed by a simplified board (with publicly appointed non-executives and strategic direction from government) and accountable to parliament. Its statutory objectives will be to protect and promote the interests of investors, other users of corporate reporting and the wider public interest, and to promote high quality, competition and innovation in the market for statutory audit work, corporate reporting and corporate governance. ARGAs responsibilities are proposed to include: The supervision of accountants and actuaries Setting and enforcing additional requirements for audit committees in the appointment and oversight of auditors of FTSE 350 companies A more pro-active role in identifying and assessing serious issues relating to a company’s corporate reporting or audit (using strengthened information gathering and investigatory powers) The white paper envisages that the statutory levy to fund ARGA will be paid by market participants (persons or bodies for which ARGA’s activities directly relate or which otherwise benefit from those activities) and will be calculated by reference to ARGA’s “activity blocks” (groups of activities). ARGA would estimate the costs of carrying out the activities which fall within each block, identify the persons or bodies who would need to meet the costs of those activities, and apportion those costs between the relevant persons or bodies within that block. In apportioning the costs between the different persons or bodies within a block, the regulator would take into account factors such as the size or nature of the market participant. It is also envisaged that ARGA will be given rule-making powers to increase choice, competition and resilience of the UK’s statutory audit market through: Requiring operational separation between the audit and non-audit arms of certain firms Statutory powers to proactively monitor the resilience of the audit market and audit firms and to take enforcement action to address anti-competitive practices The government ultimately wants to see audit become more trusted, more informative, and hence more valuable to the UK. To achieve this, it proposes: A new corporate auditing profession to operate independently of the professional accountancy bodies New overarching principles for auditors, to reinforce good audit practice A new duty on auditors to take a wider range of information into account in reaching audit judgements, in particular whether financial statements give a “true and fair view” New obligations on both auditors and directors relating to the detection and prevention of material fraud The government proposes that ARGA should oversee the provision of these wider audit services, including through the creation of a framework for all “corporate auditing”, covering both the auditing of financial statements and also the auditing of wider (non-financial) information reported. The consultation document proposes measures to improve stewardship by giving investors stronger and better opportunities to engage with companies, particularly on audit matters. These include a proposal for companies to be required to set out their approach to audit through publication of an audit and assurance policy on which there would be an advisory shareholder vote. Shareholders would also have a formal opportunity to propose to the audit committee areas of emphasis to be considered within the auditor’s annual audit plan. Directors’ accountability for internal controls The consultation notes that responsible behaviour is the starting point for high quality and reliable corporate governance and reporting. With a view navigate to this web-site to strengthening directors’ reporting obligations and sharpening directors’ accountability for the effectiveness of internal control and risk management procedures, three proposals are made: Directors should review and attest (as part of the annual report) the effectiveness of the company’s internal controls The audit report should describe the work the auditor is required to do to understand the internal control systems and how that work has influenced the audit (without formal opinion on effectiveness) A formal auditor opinion should be given on the attestation by the directors about the effectiveness of the company’s internal controls The consultation notes a preference for option one, to be supported by external audit assurance at the discretion of the audit committee and shareholders. It is proposed that these measures be phased in so that they extend to all PIEs after two years, but initially just to premium listed companies who are already familiar with the concept of an annual review (with possible temporary exemptions for newly listed companies where gross revenues remain below a specified threshold).