INVESTORS EXPECT AUDITORS TO READ THE WHOLE OF THE ANNUAL REPORT

ACCA responds to a proposed auditing standard that investors should welcome

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) says that proposals to revise International Standard on Auditing (ISA) 720 are an appropriate response to investor calls for auditors to deliver more informative reporting.

ACCA welcomed the proposals in its response to proposed ISA 720 (Revised) The Auditor’s Responsibilities Relating to Other Information. The ACCA Global Forum for Audit and Assurance debated the proposals and the views of its members, who are based in major capital markets around the world, were encapsulated in the ACCA response.

David York, ACCA head of auditing practice, said: “The glossy annual report of a large listed company now typically contains far more information than is in the financial statements. The ‘front end’ has doubled in size over the last two decades and investors want auditors to report on it; to deliver transparency and value from their financial statement audit.

“But it is not a matter of extending the scope of the audit to cover information such as a company’s strategic report. The cost of that would be prohibitive. Instead the proposals call for explicit reporting based on auditors reading and considering this ‘other information’; which is something they do as a matter of course under existing requirements of professional ethics.”

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David York continued: “The standard setter, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board’s (IAASB) has found it very difficult to put together a standard that supports such reporting but does not mislead investors about the level of assurance over ‘other information.

“There was a first exposure draft in 2012 and while the current exposure draft has eliminated many of the problems identified then by ACCA, there are still complex technical issues to be overcome. Our response not only identifies these issues but proposes practical solutions.”