Audit and Integrity: maximising shareholder value

ACCA, July 2013. This report summarises the key themes that emerged from a series of roundtable discussions held by ACCA in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica. The discussions covered a wide range of topical issues in audit and tried to map out some future directions for stakeholders in the audit process.

In April 2013, ACCA held a series of high-level audit events in Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica. The purpose was to continue ACCA’s efforts in recent years to examine topical issues in audit in the Caribbean and to set future directions for all stakeholders. These include audit service providers, companies (and other financial reporting entities), investors, regulators, central banking authorities and tuition providers. The views of all these parties are central to the intensifying debate on the role of audit, both locally and globally. International standard-setters and policymakers are reaching out to these groups on issues including audit quality, financial reporting, independence, and market structure. 

As expected, a wide variety of opinions were expressed as to how to strengthen the audit role. The issue of competition was at the forefront of discussions, along with debate on how to bridge the long-standing ‘expectations gap’ that persists between the level of assurance users believe that an audit provides and the reality of its restricted scope. 

There was detailed discussion of various aspects of the audit quality priorities of the International Auditing and Assurance Board (IAASB).

Nonetheless, there was one common theme – the importance of the audit function, and the desire of all parties to see the value of audit enhanced. ACCA believes deeply that audit strengthens both business and capital markets, which is why we continue to make great efforts to place ourselves at the forefront of the international debate on the future of audit. 

Summary of key themes

  1. Is there sufficient competition?
  2. Bridging the gap between market expectations and the audit mandate
  3. A framework for audit-quality issues identified by the IAASB:
  • Informational value: how can informational value of auditors’ reports be increased and the the perception of the value of audit be improved?
  • The role of audit committees: how can audit committees be encouraged to provide more information to financial statement users about the work they have undertaken? 
  • Do audit firms need to do more to improve the consistency of performance on individual audit engagements?
  • Establishing and developing audit firm capabilities: how are such capabilities demonstrated and assessed, as they relate to audit quality?
  • Audit quality and transparency
  • Can audit inspection activities do more to improve audit quality and make it more transparent to other stakeholders?