The American Institute of CPAs is holding a conference for audit committee members to make them more aware of risk management.

The conference, taking place this week in New York, examines the audit committee's role in risk oversight.

The day-and-a-half conference "focuses on looking at the role of the audit committee in overseeing the risk management process in the entities they service," said conference moderator Mark Beasley, Deloitte professor of enterprise risk management at North Carolina State University.

He believes that audit committees needed to ask the right questions about the risks to their companies. "Do you know what your entity's key risks are?" he asked. "Part of that really depends on what the risk is at that entity. It includes accounting and auditing issues. You can get into strategic risk. Who are your key competitors? How are they managing the risks of doing business in a foreign country?"

The conference has attracted nearly 60 participants, mainly board directors on corporate audit committees. In conjunction with the conference, the AICPA is updating an audit toolkit that it first released in 2004. "It's the result of changes that have happened over the last four years," said AICPA senior technical manager Kayla Briggs. Among those changes are Auditing Standard No. 5, which takes into account risk-based assessments, and management guidance that the Securities and Exchange Commission has issued for audit committees. The AICPA is also releasing a second tool to help audit committees respond to adverse reports on material weaknesses in internal controls.

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