The closing meeting at the end of a monitoring review is intended to be a constructive discussion between the firm and the Senior Compliance Officers (SCOs). The SCOs present their findings to the firm, explain any deficiencies in the firm’s audit work and recommend ways in which the firm can improve its procedures.

Practitioners have the opportunity to ask questions, provide additional information, which the SCO may have overlooked, and correct any factual errors in the compliance officer's understanding of the firm’s procedures. 

The SCO must also inform the firm clearly whether or not the outcome of the review is satisfactory or unsatisfactory at the closing meeting and explain what further action, if any, is to be taken, such as an early follow up review. Some firms are, inevitably, disappointed where the outcome of their review is unsatisfactory. 

In such cases it is vitally important that firms make sure that they understand what has given rise to the unsatisfactory outcome and what course of action they should take to deal with any issues arising. If there are any areas of misunderstanding these should be identified during the closing meeting.

SCOs focus on ensuring that firms fully understand the outcome of each review. Therefore, when the report is issued to the firm after the review, there should be nothing in that report which comes as a surprise, as all the points should have formed part of the discussions at the close of the review.

A firm will generally be required to produce an action plan of future improvements in its work in response to the findings of a monitoring review.  The purpose of the action plan is for firms to focus on the deficiencies found in their audit work during the monitoring review and identify the root causes of those deficiencies. This should enable them to make improvements in their quality controls and procedures to ensure a consistent satisfactory standard of audit and regulatory work in future. The SCO will discuss the completion of the action plan during the closing meeting.

The closing meeting is an opportunity for the principals of a firm to have a one-to-one discussion with the SCO, and we recommend that firms take full advantage of it in order to gain maximum benefit from the monitoring review.