Assess whether there is a need for guidance, changes to PCAOB standards, or other regulatory actions in light of the increased disclosure and demand for firm and engagement metrics. This includes evaluating metrics already disclosed by firms to audit committees and the public. Our research includes taking into account data from our oversight activities, firm current practices, and global initiatives in other jurisdictions by regulators, oversight bodies, professional bodies, and others.
On October 6, 2008, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession ("ACAP") published a report detailing recommendations that would enhance the sustainability of a strong and vibrant public company auditing profession. This report contained a number of recommendations requiring action by several different organizations including regulators, professional bodies, and others. One of the ACAP recommendations suggested that the PCAOB, in consultation with auditors, investors, public companies, audit committees, boards of directors, academics, and others, determine the feasibility of developing key indicators of audit quality and effectiveness and requiring auditing firms to publicly disclose these indicators and, assuming development and disclosure of indicators of audit quality are feasible, require the PCAOB to monitor these indicators.
In 2015 the PCAOB issued a Concept Release on Audit Quality Indicators and sought comment on 28 potential indicators. The indicators fall into three groups:
- Audit professionals – Measures dealing with the availability, competence, and focus of those performing the audit.
- Audit process – Measures about an audit firm's tone at the top and leadership, incentives, independence, attention to infrastructure, and record of monitoring and remediation.
- Audit results – Financial statements, internal control, going concern, communications between auditors and audit committees, and enforcement and litigation.
Presently, some audit firms disclose certain firm-level level metrics publicly through their Audit Quality Reports, Transparency Reports, or other published reports. Other audit regulators either have or are considering initiatives related to the disclosure of firm metrics.
The staff plans to engage in further outreach to better understand the needs of our stakeholders as it relates to firm and engagement level performance metrics.