News December 2019 FRC updates aid to Audit Committees in evaluating audit quality

FRC updates aid to Audit Committees in evaluating audit quality

19 December 2019

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has issued an update of its Practice Aid to assist audit committees in evaluating audit quality in their assessment of the effectiveness of the external audit process.
The update takes account of developments since the first edition was issued in 2015, including revisions of the UK Corporate Governance Code, the requirement for all Public Interest Entities (PIEs) to conduct a tender at least every 10 years and rotate auditors after at least 20 years, and increasing focus generally on audit quality and the role of the audit committee. It also takes account of commentary from audit committees suggesting how the Practice Aid could be more practical in focus and more clearly presented.
The framework set out in the Practice Aid focuses on understanding and challenging how the auditor demonstrates the effectiveness of key professional judgments made throughout the audit and how these might be supported by evidence of critical auditor competencies. New sections have been added addressing the audit tender process, stressing that high-audit quality should be the primary selection criterion, and matters to cover in audit committee reporting.
As well as illustrating a framework for the audit committee’s evaluation, the Practice Aid sets out practical suggestions on how audit committees might tailor their evaluation in the context of the company’s business model and strategy; the business risks it faces; and the perception of the reasonable expectations of the company’s investors and other stakeholders. These include examples of matters for the audit committee to consider in relation to key areas of audit judgment, and illustrative audit committee considerations in evaluating the auditor's competencies.
The FRC encourages audit committees to use the Practice Aid to help develop their own approach to their evaluation of audit quality, tailored to the circumstances of their company. Audit committees are encouraged to see their evaluation as integrated with other aspects of their role related to ensuring the quality of the financial statements – obtaining evidence of the quality of the auditor’s judgments made throughout the audit, in identifying audit risks, determining materiality and planning their work accordingly, as well as in assessing issues.