The auditor’s report is the key deliverable communicating the results of the audit process. In response to calls from investors and other users of audited financial statements for more informative and relevant auditor’s reports and for greater transparency into the audit, in January 2015 the IAASB issued revised Auditor Reporting standards, with an effective date of periods ending on or after December 15, 2016. The key changes aimed at enhancing the communicative value and relevance of the revised auditor’s report included:
For listed entities or those required by law or regulation
(voluntary application allowed for entities other than listed entities)
For all audits
Other information comprises financial and non-financial information in the annual report, other than the financial statements and the auditor’s report thereon. When other information is included in the annual report, the auditor’s report includes an Other Information section, which is required to include a statement that management is responsible for the other information, identify the other information, clarify that the auditor’s opinion does not cover the other information, provide a description of the auditor’s responsibilities, and to either describe any uncorrected material misstatement of the other information or state that the auditor has nothing to report.Together with the new and revised auditor reporting standards and with the same effective date, the IAASB also issued a revised standard addressing the auditor’s responsibilities related to other information, which included responsibilities to communicate certain matters in the auditor’s report.
The intended benefits of the auditor reporting revisions described above included:
- Enhanced communication between auditors and investors, as well as those charged with governance
- Increased user confidence in audit reports and financial statements
- Increased transparency, audit quality, and enhanced information value
- Increased attention by management and financial statement preparers to disclosures referenced in the auditor's report (through the KAM section)
- Renewed auditor focus on matters to be reported that could result in an increase in professional skepticism
- Enhanced financial reporting in the public interest
Given the significance of the revised Auditor Reporting standards, and the importance of improving communication between auditors and users of auditor’s reports, the IAASB committed to undertake a post-implementation review of those standards. The post-implementation review was launched in January 2020, and IAASB published a Project Update providing information relevant to the post-implementation review.
The principal objective of the post-implementation review is to understand whether the standards are being consistently understood and implemented in a manner that achieves the IAASB’s intended purpose in developing them so that the IAASB can determine what possible further actions, if any, should be undertaken. Hearing from users of auditor’s reports is an essential part of the post-implementation review.
As part of the post-implementation review, the IAASB is now seeking input through a Auditor Reporting Stakeholder Survey. The IAASB is interested in perspectives about various matters related to the implementation of the new and revised auditor reporting standards, how practical challenges and concerns are being addressed, and whether there is global demand for additional information in the auditor’s report to improve transparency about the audit. The IAASB also would like to further understand whether there is a global need for wider application of reporting KAM in the auditor’s report, or to name the engagement partner for entities that are not listed.
This online Auditor Reporting Stakeholder Survey is open until November 23, 2020. All interested stakeholders are invited to participate in this global request for input. Stakeholders also are encouraged to share the online survey with their respective networks in their jurisdictions that engage with auditors or use auditor reports.