Coronavirus affecting plans at IAASB

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The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board released its 2020-2023 strategy and 2020-2021 work plan, while acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic could throw those plans out of whack.

Both the strategy and work plan were developed before the outbreak of the pandemic, but the IAASB said the strategic objectives remain relevant.

“The IAASB recognizes the significant challenges facing the audit profession and the standards that govern it,” said IAASB chair Tom Seidenstein in a statement last week. “This strategy and work plan provides an important compass for our organization to address these challenges in a highly responsive and innovative manner. We will inevitably need to adapt over the strategy’s four-year period, but the emphasis on the public interest, innovation and agility, and collaboration should remain relevant.”

The strategy and work plan were developed over the past two years in consultation with stakeholders. The strategic objectives are to Increase the emphasis on emerging issues to ensure that the IAASB International Standards provide a foundation for high-quality audit, assurance and related services engagements; innovate the IAASB’s ways of working to strengthen and broaden our agility, capabilities, and capacity to do the right work at the right time; and maintain and deepen relationships with stakeholders to achieve globally relevant, progressive and operable standards.

The work plan, when it was approved last December, discusses how the IAASB intends to increase its focus on emerging issues, while completing the existing work already committed to and underway. In the work plan, the IAASB expects to do standard-setting projects on going concern, fraud and audit evidence, and work to address the needs of auditors of less complex entities, among other topics. The work plan includes a new Framework for Activities, with several main components, to help the IAASB develop targeted responses to deal with emerging issues and topics of global relevance.

Now, with the advent of the coronavirus, the work plan is subject to change. The IAASB is now developing guidance on audit considerations in response to the pandemic. The IAASB is also improving its interactions with national audit standard-setters, regulators and independent audit oversight regimes.

Both the work plan and the timelines for achieving may need to adapt as new priorities emerge, the pandemic and associated restrictions affect accountants' ability to work, and stakeholder capacity for change becomes constrained. In the weeks and months ahead, the IAASB intends to consider the potential impacts and consult with the Public Interest Oversight Board, the IAASB Consultative Advisory Group and other stakeholders about the plan. That could lead to the reprioritization of topics and changes in the timing of projects and consultation efforts. The IAASB expects to post any changes on its website.

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IAASB Coronavirus Audits Audit standards