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As external reporting continues to evolve, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), in continuing its dialogue with its stakeholders, is facilitating an open discussion to about its potential role to support credibility and trust in emerging forms of external reporting (referred to as EER). The discussion will also help the IAASB understand where others can, or need, to play a role. Accordingly, the IAASB’s Integrated Reporting Working Group, dedicated to exploring EER, has released a Discussion Paper, Supporting Credibility and Trust in Emerging Forms of External Reporting: Ten Key Challenges for Assurance Engagements.

What Does the Discussion Explore?

Recognizing that various professional services are being performed, including assurance engagements, in accordance with the IAASB’s international standards, the IAASB has acknowledged the importance of being at the forefront of the debate on external reporting and how professional accountants and other practitioners can contribute to enhancing credibility and trust. The IAASB hopes that this paper furthers the debate, while also helping the board gain a deeper understanding of how it, as the global assurance standard setter, can contribute to the quality of different engagements, in the public interest.

The Discussion Paper sets out ten key challenges in relation to assurance engagements that the IAASB would like to further explore, recognizing the need for flexibility in these services as the external reporting environment continues to evolve and mature. The Discussion Paper explores the:

  • Factors that can enhance credibility and trust, internally and externally, in relation to emerging forms of external reports;
  • Types of professional services covered by the IAASB’s international standards most relevant to these reports, in particular assurance engagements;
  • Key challenges in relation to assurance engagements; and
  • Types of guidance that might be helpful to support the quality of these assurance engagements.

The Discussion Paper also sets out the principal findings from research and outreach regarding developments in EER frameworks and professional services most relevant to EER reports, irrespective of whether such reports are part of the annual report or published as separate reports.

Who Should Respond to the Discussion Paper?

The IAASB’s Working Group is seeking input from investors, preparers, those in governance roles, standard setters, practitioners, internal auditors, regulators, academics, and other stakeholders in the external reporting supply chain. The input will assist the IAASB in effectively responding to these developments in the public interest, including consideration about whether new or revised international standards or guidance may be necessary.

The Working Group has also developed materials to supplement the Discussion Paper, including FAQs. This material, as well as more information and updates on the project, are available on the IAASB’s project page. For additional information see this Gateway video article with Nancy Kamp, former IAASB Deputy Director, who played a critical role in the development of this project: Supporting Credibility and Trust in Emerging Forms of External Reporting.

Comments to the Discussion Paper are requested by February 3, 2017. 

Brett James, FCA

Chief of Operations, International Foundation for Ethics and Audit

Brett James was appointed Chief of Operations in 2021. Mr. James is responsible for the operational activities of the International Foundation for Ethics and Audit, including the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA).

Prior to this role, Mr. James was a senior member of the IAASB’s technical staff for more than a decade. In that role, he delivered projects addressing accounting estimates, quality management, other information,  and assurance engagements among others.

Earlier in his career Mr. James worked for the Office of the Chief Accountant at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission working on both accounting and auditing issues. He previously worked at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, where he lectured on financial and management accounting and accounting ethics. He began his career in the audit practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mr. James is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.