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2015 Could Be a Break-Through Year for Audit Reforms

Investors could finally reap the benefits in 2014 of several multi-year projects underway to enhance auditor reporting and independence.

In December 2013, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) reproposed its controversial amendments aimed at improving the transparency of audits. The proposal would require the disclosure in the audit report of the name of the engagement partner and certain other participants in the audit. In addition to providing the names of the other persons or entities that participate in the audit, external auditors of public companies would need to provide the other participants' locations, (i.e., the country in which the entity is headquartered or the person resides). This information should be especially useful in audits of companies with multiple locations and international operations on which the firm that signs the audit report does only a portion of the audit. 

Another change in the works would expand auditor reporting in the US to include more commentary on critical audit matters, such as management's judgments and estimates, accounting policies and practices, and difficult or contentious issues including those the PCAOB refers to as "close calls." And still another change being considered by the Board would reduce the share of the audit that can be outsourced without disclosure from 20% to 5%. Although these would be significant changes, some critics are demanding even more. In Europe, regulators are considering requiring public companies to put their audits out for bid every ten years or to change auditors every 15 or 20 years. So far, US regulators have been reluctant to embrace a similar rule for US companies.





Rosemary Schlank


Raster Enterprises


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