In unified voice, leaders reaffirm profession’s commitment to audit quality

By Ken Tysiac

Seven prominent leaders of the auditing profession presented a united voice Wednesday by reaffirming the profession’s commitment to quality.

In a statement posted to the websites of the AICPA, the Center for Audit Quality (which is affiliated with the AICPA), and firms represented in the commentary, the leaders described the numerous steps that firms have taken to raise audit quality in recent years and pledged to make ongoing efforts toward improvement.

“The promise of our profession is a commitment to improve — continually,” the statement said. “Indeed, for auditors, continual improvement is more than a commitment; it is an imperative.”

The commentary was authored by:

  • Wayne Berson, CEO of BDO USA and chair of the global board of directors of BDO International Ltd.
  • Lynne Doughtie, U.S. chairman and CEO of KPMG LLP.
  • Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte US.
  • Kelly Grier, U.S. chairman and managing partner and Americas managing partner of EY.
  • Mike McGuire, CEO of Grant Thornton LLP.
  • Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
  • Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

In the statement, they welcomed the thousands of new accounting graduates who will become auditors this year. The leaders explained that graduates are joining a profession that is dedicated to helping provide the capital markets with confidence and assurance in financial reporting.

New graduates employed by audit firms will join a profession that values trust and integrity, the commentary said, and will have a chance to work with other talented people who are embracing innovation at a time of significant technological change.

The statement explained that auditors increasingly are collaborating with colleagues in key areas such as information systems, cybersecurity risk management, valuation, and complex tax matters.

“Such a multidisciplinary approach also helps firms to integrate cutting-edge technologies into the audit, a feature that is especially important at a time when artificial intelligence, advanced data analytics, and blockchain have the potential to revolutionize the audit,” the commentary said.

Audit firms’ investments in systems of quality control, accountability frameworks, and orientation of partner compensation around rewarding quality were cited in the commentary as examples of the profession’s commitment to quality.

As the environment changes, the profession’s leaders pledged to adapt and remain open to new ideas while maintaining their focus on improving the quality of audits.

“Our commitment to continuous improvement benefits our workforce as much as it does the capital markets in that it instills values that are essential to success,” the commentary concluded. “We, along with the class of 2018, will continue to build on the auditing bedrock that has supported our capital markets for decades. That is our promise.”

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA editorial director.

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