IAASB Releases Working Group Paper on Supporting Credibility and Trust in Emerging Forms of External Reporting: Ten Key Challenges for Assurance Engagements

Brett James | September 19, 2016 |

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

Senior Principal, International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board

Brett James is Senior Principal of the IAASB. He has worked on many projects for the IAASB, including the revisions of standards dealing with assurance engagements, the auditor’s responsibilities related to other information, and special considerations in the audit of complex financial instruments as well as contributions to many other projects and initiatives. He has previously worked as a practitioner, academic, and regulator in the audit space.


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