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Grant Thornton Jumps on the ‘Let’s Form a Panel to Show We’re Committed to Audit Quality’ Bandwagon

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Last week we let you guys know about a three-member independent committee EY recently created that will be tasked with advising senior leadership on how to strengthen audit quality. Not to be outdone, Grant Thornton announced Jan. 30 that it, too, has formed a three-member, mostly independent panel that will counsel the firm’s partnership board on how to make sure the quality of GT’s audits doesn’t suck.

I wrote “mostly independent” because one of the members of the Purple Rose of Chicago’s new Audit Quality Advisory Council is Seth Siegel, an audit partner with Grant Thornton and a member of its partnership board. The two independent members of the council—Chris Mandaleris and Ann Yerger—ironically used to work for EY.

As advisors to GT’s partnership board, the council “will provide deep, practical, and objective advice regarding ways Grant Thornton can continue to deliver high audit quality,” a press release states.

Grant Thornton CEO Mike McGuire added:

“At Grant Thornton, we are committed to delivering the highest quality audits to our clients. Chris, Ann and Seth bring more than 75 years of combined professional services experience to our council and we look forward to working alongside them to strengthen our position as a leader in the profession for quality. This group will, in turn, help make our firm the auditor of choice for companies committed to excellence.”

Like EY, Grant Thornton’s inspection reports from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board were crappy for several years (spectacularly crappy in 2012’s) but have started to improve a little bit. Deficiency rates in GT inspection reports issued by the PCAOB from 2011 to 2016 were:

Grant Thornton’s 2017 inspection report has yet to be released by the PCAOB.

Now, let’s meet the members of Grant Thornton’s Audit Quality Advisory Council:

Seth Siegel

Seth Siegel

Seth Siegel, who serves as an audit partner and as Grant Thornton’s Florida audit practice leader, will be the council’s partnership board representative. He joined Grant Thornton in 1996 and has more than 20 years of public accounting and corporate finance experience. He provides services to both publicly-traded and privately-held entities with a focus on companies in a variety of industries, including financial services, private equity, real estate, hospitality, and energy.

Siegel is a CPA in Florida and a member of the Florida Institute of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs.

Chris Mandaleris

Chris Mandaleris

Chris Mandaleris spent 25 years working in EY’s audit practice and helped open the firm’s Greensboro, N.C. office. Most recently, he was the senior deputy director in the PCAOB’s inspections division.

After 13 years with the PCAOB, Mandaleris retired in 2016 and dedicated his time to serving the Greek Orthodox Church in the Southeast as a volunteer strategy, governance, and internal control advisor.

He is a CPA in Alabama and a member of the AICPA.

Ann Yerger

Ann Yerger

Ann Yerger spent the past 20 years at the Council of Institutional Investors, where she served as the executive director. She has also served as the executive director of EY’s Center for Board Matters, as a member of the PCAOB’s Investor Advisory Group, and as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investor Advisory Committee. She also served on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession.

Yerger is currently a member of Spencer Stuart’s North American Board Practices and is an independent director of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co., where she chairs the nominating and governance committee and serves as a member of its compensation committee.

EY announced the formation of its Independent Audit Quality Committee on Jan. 23. The three members include former PCAOB member Jeanette Franzel, Financial Accounting Foundation Chairman Charles Noski, and ex-Vanguard Group CEO and President F. William McNabb III.

While KPMG doesn’t have an independent audit quality committee or council—but probably needs one based on the deficiency rates in its 2016 and 2017 PCAOB inspection reports—the firm recently added two outside members to its board of directors.