Auditor Inclusion of Critical Audit Matters in Audit Opinion – Center for Audit Quality Release to Help Understanding

You might be aware that external auditors are required to include a discussion of critical audit matters in their audit opinion reports for large accelerated filers for audits of fiscal years ending on or after June 30, 2019, and for other public companies for audits of fiscal years ending on or after December 31, 2020. I believe that these discussions will in some instances present or cause contentions between the external auditor on the one hand, and the audit committee, board, and chief executive officers on the other hand.

A Critical Audit Matter or CAM is defined as:

Any matter arising from the audit of the financial statements that was communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee: and that:

  1. Relates to accounts or disclosures that are material to the financial statements; and
  2. Involved especially challenging, subjective, or complex auditor judgment.

Thus, based on the above definition, simply determining whether a matter is a CAM could be a challenging issue.

For example, in any given audit situation consider:

-What matters were communicated, or were required to be communicated to the audit committee;

-Relating to accounts or disclosures that are material to the financial statements; and

-Involved especially challenging, subjective, or complex auditor judgment?

I will be discussing the good, the bad, the ugly, and the confusing as this upcoming new area of audit opinion report continues to develop. Auditors and audit committees will need to carefully evaluate what to communicate and what is required to be communicated, materiality (qualitative and quantitative), and whether a matter involves especially challenging, subjective, or complex audit judgment.

For additional help with these issues, the following is a link to a June 24, 2018, release by the Center for Audit Quality entitled Critical Audit Matters: Key Concepts and FAQs for Audit Committees, Investors, and other Users of Financial Statements – click on the following link https://www.thecaq.org/critical-audit-matters-key-concepts-and-faqs-audit-committees-investors-and-other-users-financial

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and California inactive CPA)

 

 

 

 

Audit Committee of the Future – From the CAQ

Below is a link to a paper by the Center for Audit Quality entitled The Audit Committee of the Future. Although the discussion paper is a disappointment (too basic, and lack of meaningful insight) as the CAQ usually has worthwhile materials, in the list of five ways to enhance the audit committee, I thought that one of the five ways is worth noting for its subject matter (but again, not for the discussion insight). The following is the discussion about fostering robust communication and engagement:

“Fostering robust communication and engagement: In addition to enhancing communication with investors and other parties via disclosure, panelists agreed that audit committees need to focus strongly on developing healthy channels of internal communication. “That’s an important skill set for the chairman of the audit committee,” said one, “how to make sure you’re having those periodic meetings outside the boardroom with the auditor, with the internal auditor, with the CFO, with the controller.” Of course, the onus on fostering communication does not fall on the audit committee chair alone. “It’s important to have all parties around the table fully engaged,” said one participant. Others emphasized the need for external auditors to engage in dialogue, particularly if a sense emerges that the audit committee is not asking the right questions. “You need an audit firm to speak up,” said a panelist.”

Obviously the above comments can be expanded upon greatly, including, for example, discussions about agenda setting, risk management and internal controls, critical decision making processes, investigations, and follow up.

Here is a link to the CAQ paper

http://www.thecaq.org/docs/default-source/reports-and-publications/caq_insights_audit_committee_future.pdf

And the following is a link to Tate’s Excellent Audit Committee Guide, updated January 2016. Enjoy. CLICK HERE FOR THE POST CONTAINING A LINK TO THE AUDIT COMMITTEE GUIDE

Best, Dave Tate, Esq., San Francisco and California, http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

Audit Committee 5 Lines of Defense 02132016 David W. Tate, Esq.

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