Since the SEC’s appointment of an essentially entirely new board on November 8, 2021, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has taken several steps that help auditors and companies begin to understand the future directions of audit oversight and standard setting.
In early 2022, the Board established two new advisory groups, the Investor Advisory Group and the Standards and Emerging Issues Advisory Group. It approved charters for the groups on March 29, 2022, and on May 9, 2022, announced the members of each group and set dates for their first meetings. The meeting summaries for the advisory groups can provide insight into areas the PCAOB may address in the future.
On June 7, 2022, the Board hired its first ever Investor Advocate. This new role is expected to enhance engagement with investors and “amplify investor voices” in the activities of the PCAOB.
The Board also established new Standard-Setting and Research Agendas on May 4, 2022. Included are several projects to update and modernize the “interim standards” adopted shortly after the PCAOB’s formation.
On June 21, 2022, the Board adopted amendments to its auditing standards designed to “strengthen requirements that apply to audits involving multiple audit firms.” The amendments were developed after three comment solicitations and were formally approved by the SEC on August 12, 2022. They will be effective for audits of financial statements for fiscal years ending on or after December 15, 2024.
On August 17, 2022 the Board released its latest Audit Committee Resource. This PCAOB Spotlight document is designed to offer “questions that audit committees of public companies might want to consider as part of their ongoing engagement and discussion with their auditors, including how the auditors are responding to the financial reporting and audit risks posed by the current economic environment.”
In June 2022, the Inspections Division published its “Staff Overview for Planned 2022 Inspections.” This document, which is relevant not just for auditors but for audit committees and investors, “highlights selected areas of planned 2022 inspection focus.”
On August 26, 2022, the PCAOB announced the signing of a “Statement of Protocol” with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China. This document is a significant step in providing a process for the PCAOB to conduct inspections of Chinese audit firms and, if necessary, pursue investigations.
Lastly, in a process that builds on these steps and provides insight into the overall direction of the PCAOB, on August 16, 2022, the Board published for comment a draft “Five-Year Strategic Plan for Protecting Investors.” The plan sets out four goals which are consistent with its actions in recent months:
- Goal 1: Modernize Standards
- Goal 2: Enhance Inspections
- Goal 3: Strengthen Enforcement
- Goal 4: Improve Organizational Effectiveness
The momentum and direction of the PCAOB is becoming clear with its actions and Spotlight statements. Each of these developments clearly fits with the elements of the draft Five-Year Strategic Plan. This information can help auditors and companies as they plan and execute audits.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.