New international auditing standards issued Thursday are designed to change how auditors communicate about their work in their reports.
Auditors of listed entities’ financial statements will be required to communicate “key audit matters” in auditor’s reports, according to the standards released by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).
The key audit matters will be those that the auditor views as most significant, with an explanation of how they were addressed in the audit.
The IAASB also has increased auditors’ focus on going-concern matters and added more transparency in the auditor’s report about the work the auditor performs.
“These changes will reinvigorate the audit, as auditors substantively change their behavior and how they communicate about their work,” IAASB Chairman Arnold Schilder said in a news release.
The new standards will be effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after Dec. 15, 2016.
Enabling additional communication by auditors in their reports has been a focus of standard setters in many jurisdictions. The PCAOB in August 2013 proposed changes to the auditor’s reporting model that would include disclosure of “critical audit matters.” These would be matters that:
- Involved the most difficult, subjective, or complex auditor judgments;
- Posed the most difficulty to the auditor in obtaining sufficient appropriate evidence; or
- Posed the most difficulty to the auditor in forming an opinion on the financial statements.
The PCAOB is scheduled to repropose this standard in the first half of this year.
Rules published by the U.K. Financial Reporting Council in June 2013 require auditors reporting on companies that apply the U.K. Corporate Governance Code to provide an overview of the scope of the audit, to show how the audit addressed risk and materiality considerations, to describe certain risks in more detail, and to explain how they applied the concept of materiality.
— Ken Tysiac is a JofA editorial director.