Last week, seven hotshots in the world of accounting and auditing stepped up and put their name on a statement “reaffirming” the profession’s commitment to audit quality. As my headline so subtly suggests, it’s a good thing someone said something because honestly it’s kinda hard to tell they’re serious given all the audit scandals, PCAOB […]
The Center of Audit Quality is celebrating its 10th anniversary today and the panels feature a bunch of BIG AUDIT executives, past and present regulatory leaders from the PCAOB and SEC and some other notables. Accounting Today has been tweeting highlights from the afternoon session and it included this missive attributed to Grant Thornton International […]
With PCAOB inspection rates at their most embarrassing ever these days, you'd think most educated people would not be all that confident in audits. Of course, most "normal" people don't stay up on PCAOB inspection rates. We do, of course, which is why we thought it was hilarious that the Center for Audit Quality was […]
The CAQ released a new Professional Judgment Resource today, "designed to provide auditors with an example of a decision-making process to facilitate important auditing and accounting judgments in a professionally skeptical manner." Get excited, people, this is awesome stuff: The Resource is aimed at assisting auditors who are responding to judgment challenges arising from the […]
According to CAQ's YouTube page, this was posted back on July 30 (SOX's birthday, no less) but was tweeted earlier this afternoon so we figured it was worth sharing:
Most people like to learn in some sort of visual fashion. Reading? BORING. Lectures? AWFUL. There needs to be action, bright colors, and a damsel in distress — bonus points if there's a scene of frontal nudity — to get people to pay attention for longer than five minutes. Investors in public companies are no […]
Just in case anyone missed the PCAOB Inspection Report on ICFR, the Center for Audit Quality has issued a timely statement reminding everyone to read it. Thanks guys, we totally might have missed that without Executive Director Cindy Fornelli's reminder. "The PCAOB has issued a report summarizing common inspection findings in the area of internal […]
I love HGTV in fact but not in appearance. No one looks at me and thinks, "I bet that guy TiVos Yard Crashers, Curb Appeal, and House Hunters," but I do. And although I think Hilari was robbed in Design Star All Stars, I never really talk about it with anybody. Fortunately, there is no […]
If you're an opiner who has been suffering from massive memory loss or ignoring your professional purpose, don't fret. Master audit firm lobbyist Cynthia Fornelli has your playabook: “Independence, objectivity and skepticism, I think, are fundamental foundational elements of audit quality,” Fornelli said in an interview at the Accounting Today offices on Friday. Now that […]
Cynthia Fornelli & Co. appreciate the effort by the SEC but would have appreciated a little bit of cuddling: “The SEC staff is to be commended for completing its Work Plan on international financial reporting standards (IFRS). While staff recommendations of specific approaches or dates for the possible incorporation of IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting […]
For your daily dose of YouTube-based comical entertainment, Prof Albrecht (via Bob Jensen) has shared a new video brought to us by the Center for Audit Quality which seeks to explain for the unwashed masses what auditors do. As Albrecht so eloquently points out, there is not a single mention of what happens when auditors […]
Last week, we told you about Jonathan Weil’s latest scoop exposing a PCAOB issuer in an inspection report. The issuer in question was Motorola and it, once again, featured KPMG as the auditor on the receiving end of the Board’s criticism. It was also noted that PCAOB Chair Jim Doty mentioned this particular case (without naming names) in his speech at USC the previous week when he described “one large firm t am was aware that a significant contract was not signed until the early hours of the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the audit partner allowed the company to book the transaction in the third quarter, which allowed the company to meet its earnings target.”
J Dubs put this all together in a nice little package, citing court documents from a class-action lawsuit in Chicago. What isn’t mentioned in Weil’s column but is spelled out in other court documents that we’ve reviewed is that KPMG and the Center of Audit Quality fought the release of the documents related to the PCAOB’s inspection report because they’re afraid that more lawsuits could result if issuers’ identities are made public.
The CAQ submitted an amicus curiae brief (in full on the next page) stating:
The supervisory model of regulation created by Sarbanes-Oxley and implemented by the PCAOB has thus far worked well and has improved the quality and reliability of audits of public companies. It has worked to the satisfaction of both the Board and the regulated community.
Yet, the CAQ argued that if the PCAOB inspection documents were released, “the [Sarbanes-Oxley] Act’s carefully supervisory model will be adversely affected.” That is, the confidentiality afforded to the communication between auditors and the PCAOB would be compromised and would allow Board information into the ‘hands of litigating lawyers.’ The CAQ declined to comment for this post, saying that they did not “have anything to add to the amicus brief.”
In her ruling denying KPMG’s motion (in full, on page 3) to squash the subpoena of the PCAOB documents, Judge Amy St. Eve cited KPMG’s argument that sounds very similar to the CAQ’s:
KPMG argues that “if litigants can compel production of materials related to the PCAOB’s confidential inspection process notwithstanding section 105(b)(5)(A), open and constructive engagement between the PCAOB and accounting firms could be chilled by the threat of increased civil litigation, and the statutory framework carefully crafted by Congress to improve the quality of public company audits could be frustrated.”
So basically auditors are afraid that if their super-special-secret discussions with the PCAOB are out there for all the world to see, they’ll get sued more often. But hasn’t suing audit firms already reached critical mass? Can they really fear more litigation? The only thing that keeps audit firms from being on the same level of litigation risk as tobacco companies is that they aren’t killing people.
Weil and those that agree with him argue that the PCAOB owes it to investors to name names in their inspection reports. To continue keeping issuers confidential protects them from legitimate criticism for shoddy accounting and perpetuating equally shoddy audits. Of course, if you’re an investor and that doesn’t bother you, then maybe you’re okay with auditors trying to stop the release of more information related to their work. Work that cost the investors in Motorola $244 million from 2000 to 2010.
The CAQ’s continuing dialogue with individual investors indicates that many in the marketplace do not fully understand the scope of the audit process and the responsibilities placed on public company auditors. The In-Depth Guide to Public Company Auditing will help to bridge that information gap. The new Guide describes how a public company audit firm decides to accept a new audit engagement, how it assesses the risk that the financial statements contain material misstatements as part of determining the audit’s scope, and then how the auditors perform and report their findings – all in plain English. [Cindy Fornelli/CAQ, Guide]
I am pleased that the SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant’s thoughtful study recommends retention of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes Oxley Act for companies whose market capitalization is between $75 and $250 million. Section 404(b) requires independent auditors to attest to management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal controls over financial reporting […]. The study concluded that costs of Section 404(b) compliance have declined and financial reporting is more reliable when the auditor is involved with ICFR assessments. Importantly, the study found that investors generally view the auditor‘s attestation on ICFR as beneficial. [Cindy Fornelli/CAQ]
“We are writing to urge you in the course of your efforts to reform the financial sector to resist efforts to weaken protections for investors in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). Specifically, we oppose exempting smaller public companies from compliance with Section 404(b) of the Act. Further, we are troubled by evidence of a proposal to roll back to an arbitrary market capitalization point strengthened internal controls requirements for larger companies that are already in compliance with the provision.”
~ The Center of Audit Quality, in a letter to Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL).