New research supports introduction of standards for Audit Committees

News types: Publications, Statements

Published: 2 December 2020

Compelling new research commissioned by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has shown that the development of standards for audit committees would support a more consistent approach to promoting audit quality. The research, conducted by YouGov, involved interviews with Audit Committee Chairs (ACCs) on how they carry out their role.

Some of the ACCs interviewed expressed a desire to improve their understanding of what makes a good audit. The research found that ACCs placed great emphasis on the audit tendering process to ensure a high-quality audit, and on challenging their auditor over how their planned audit approach would deliver quality.

Challenge was less apparent in relation to auditors’ judgements and findings, and few ACCs mentioned regularly challenging company management as well as the auditors during the audit process.

In terms of receiving external support to help drive challenge, the majority of ACCs suggested shareholders were not engaged in the audits of investee companies citing either lack of accessibility or interest in the process.

The research also reveals that the key attributes audit committee chairs value in auditors were a good understanding of the business and its sector, the ability to identify key risk areas, good communication skills, along with a focus on timeliness in raising issues and completing work.

The FRC’s Executive Director of Regulatory Standards, Mark Babington said:

Audit committee chairs and audit committees have a vital role to play in ensuring high-quality audits are conducted in the public interest. Today’s research reveals there is a lack of consistency in how to approach audit quality with insufficient focus on challenge of management and professional scepticism.
“Delivering high standards of audit, corporate governance and reporting remains a key focus for the FRC and we are working closely with the Government to take forward proposals that will better meet the needs of stakeholders and users of accounts.”

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