Instituut van de Bedrijfsrevisoren - Institut des Réviseurs d'Entreprises
Member | Established: 1953 | Member since 1977
IBR-IRE is a mandatory membership organization for auditors and audit firms established in accordance with the Audit Act of 2016. The Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of registered Auditors of 2016 grants IBR-IRE, under the supervision of the Belgian Audit Oversight College (BAOC), with the authority to (i) approve and register statutory auditors and audit firms; (ii) provide continuing professional development for auditors; and (iii) draft auditing and ethical standards for the High Council for the Economic Professions and Minister of Economy’s approval and endorsement.
IBR-IRE is a member of IFAC, Accountancy Europe, and the Fédération Internationale des Experts-Comptables Francophones (FIDEF).
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
SMO 1: Quality Assurance
The Audit Act of 2016 stipulates that a quality assurance (QA) review system for all audits be stablished and operated by the Belgian Audit Oversight College” (BAOC).
While IBR-IRE does not have legal authority to establish and operate the mandatory QA review system, the institute has contributed to the adoption of ISQC 1 as quality control standards by promoting them to the High Council for the Economic Professions and the Minister of Economy.
The institute assists its members with the implementation of the quality assurance requirements by developing various activities, including training, continuing professional development sessions and issuing implementation guidance. IBR-IRE has also developed ongoing communication with the public oversight in Belgium.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
In Belgium, the Law Concerning the Accountancy and Tax Professions (hereinafter “Law of 1999”) sets initial and continuing professional development (IPD and CPD respectively) for accountants (preparers); tax consultants; bookkeepers; and tax accountants; under the auspices of the Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB) and the Professional Institute of Accountants and Tax Accountants (IPCF).
IBR-IRE ensures aspiring members comply with conditions of admission, practical experience requirements (via the Commission du Stage) and conducts a final assessment. In addition, the institute reports that it launched a public consultation on a draft new standard on Continuous Professional Development (CPD) which is in line with the International Education Standard (IES) 7. Compliance with CPD requirements is monitored through the QA review system carried out by the BAOC. In light of the 2015 revised IES requirements, which emphasize learning outcomes and demonstrating competencies, IBR-IRE is encouraged to indicate how it is strategizing to advocate and raise awareness of the importance of incorporating these new requirements into IPD programming of professional accountants.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
According to the Audit Act of 2016, audits must be conducted in accordance with the standards set by the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE) and approved by the High Council for the Economic Professions and Minister of Economy.
IBR-IRE reports on its website that ISA have been applicable in Belgium since 2009 and the 2018 Handbook of International Quality Control, Auditing, Review, Other Assurance, and Related Services Pronouncements are now applicable in the jurisdiction. IBR-IRE completed a French translation of the 2018 Handbook in September 2019.
It has developed an ongoing process to review new and revised pronouncements issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). IBR-IRE also reports that it regularly meets with Accountancy Europe to provide comments on IAASB Exposure Drafts.
The institute has developed a range of activities to raise the public’s awareness of ISA and assist its members with the implementation of the auditing standards. Amongst others, the IBR-IRE has developed an ISA implementation manual and provides continuing professional development courses on this topic.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
The Belgian legislator has explicitly made the choice to gather the ethical provisions applicable to the registered auditors in the Audit Act of 2016. The Audit Act of 2016 contains the general ethical rules applicable to the registered auditor (with respect to any engagement) as well as the conceptual framework approach. Furthermore, additional ethical provisions applicable to the statutory auditor are included in the Belgian Code for Companies and Associations.
In the context of the European audit reform, it is useful to refer to an opinion issued by the High Council for the Economic Professions on December 22, 2015, which highlights that the European legislator explicitly opted for legislation at European level to be implemented at national level instead of referring to the IESBA Code. The IESBA Code could, according to the High Council for the Economic Professions, be considered by the Belgian legislator as guidance without it being compulsory in part or in whole.
As of the date of the assessment, ethical requirements for auditors set by the Audit Act of 2016 are compulsory for registered auditors in Belgium as opposed to the IESBA Code which can be considered as useful guidance.
IBR-IRE assists its members with the implementation of ethical requirements by issuing implementation guidance and delivering continuing professional development courses, and contributes to the standard-setting activities of the IESBA by participating in Accountancy Europe Professional Ethics and Competences Working Party, which provides comments on the Exposure Drafts issued by the international standard-setting body. Reference is also made during seminars organised by the ICCI to IESBA revised and restructured Code of Ethics, effective as of June 2019.
Effective June 2019, IESBA issued a Revised & Restructured Code which requires due consideration and review by PAOs to either adopt, promote adoption, and/or support implementation. With a Code that presently incorporates requirements of the 2009 IESBA Code, IBR-IRE is encouraged to review the revised IESBA Code—which includes the important NOCLAR standard effective 2017—in order to establish plans to adopt the latest ethical requirements and at the same time, to support proper application amongst its members.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
The Belgian government accounting system is on an accrual basis at the central government level and for the Walloon and Brussels local government, for each component of the financial statements (except for cash flow statement). It is also true at the Flemish local government level, except for changes in net asset that are recorded on a modified accrual basis. Regulation was passed in June 2010 which adopts an accounting system based on IPSAS although it is not fully compliant.
Since it is not within the scope of responsibilities of the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE) to adopt public sector standards, the institute focuses its efforts on promoting the standards to government officials. IBR-IRE reports that it meets with the government on a regular basis to promote awareness of the standards.
In 2014, it jointly established the Public Accounting Commission with the Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB) to (i) follow up with government authorities on IPSAS adoption; (ii) contribute to the developments of European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS) to encourage alignment with IPSAS; and (iii) provide training activities to assist members with the implementation of standards for a smooth transition process from “cash accounting” to “accrual basis accounting”.
As the Belgian government continues to consider adoption of IPSAS and EPSAS, IBR-IRE is encouraged to further consider how it may be able to proactively provide technical, advocacy, and other forms of support to the government to enhance public financial management in the jurisdiction.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
Under the Audit Act of 2016, investigation and discipline (I&D) of auditors is performed by the Belgian Audit Oversight College (BAOC) who may conduct investigations and then refer cases for sanctioning to the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) as needed.
Prior to the enactment of the Audit Act of 2016, the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE)—the professional accountancy organization for auditors—conducted I&D procedures in the jurisdiction for auditors.
The BAOC is in charge of the quality assurance and surveillance of all the Belgian registered auditors (carrying out the statutory audit of PIES and non-PIES).
Disciplinary measures and sanctions can be imposed by the Commission of Sanctions of the FSMA - replacing the Disciplinary Commission and the Commission of Appeal - which is responsible for the ultimate decision about the imposition of sanctions against registered auditors, including removal from the public register of auditors;
Prior to the enactment of the Audit Act of 2016, the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE)—the professional accountancy organization for auditors—conducted I&D procedures in the jurisdiction for auditors. It was mostly in line with SMO 6 requirements.
IBR-IRE is encouraged to continue working towards addressing the gaps it has identified in its self-assessment, and to report on the progress accomplished.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
As a member of the European Union (EU), Belgium is subject to the accounting, auditing and financial reporting requirements established in EU Regulations and Directives as transposed into national laws and regulations. EU-endorsed IFRS have been adopted for companies trading in a regulated market along with credit institutions, insurance companies, and investment firms, while other entities are permitted to use the EU-endorsed IFRS. The Belgian Accounting Standards Board (BASB) is responsible for enacting financial reporting standards in Belgium for all other entities and has issued the Belgian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
Since IBR-IRE has no responsibility for IFRS adoption, it focuses on supporting its members with implementation and application by offering seminars and continuing professional development courses (CPD) on the standards and developments in the area. It also supports members with information, tools, and professional literature via the Journal de Stage and website.
IBR-IRE reports to provide comments on Exposure Drafts issued by the International Accounting Standards Board via its participation in the IFRS subgroup of the national standard-setter.
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