The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board has released proposals aimed at fundamental transformation of the structure of the future auditor’s report with the goal of communicating better to users such as investors and financial analysts.

The IAASB’s exposure draft, Reporting on Audited Financial Statements: Proposed New and Revised International Standards on Auditing (ISAs), responds to calls from investors, analysts and other users of audited financial statements in the wake of the global financial crisis for the auditor to provide more relevant information in the auditor’s report based on the audit that was performed.

In the U.S., the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board also issued a concept release in 2011 on overhauling the structure of the auditor’s report, but has not yet issued new standards (see PCAOB Proposes Changes in Auditor’s Reporting Model).

“We expect the proposed new and revised standards will result in substantive changes to how auditors contemplate and approach communication to users of their reports—the beneficiaries of a financial statement audit,” said IAASB chairman Arnold Schilder in a statement. “These changes are critical to the perceived value of the financial statement audit and thus to the continued relevance of the auditing profession.”

The IAASB operates under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants, whose member bodies include the American Institute of CPAs.

The IAASB’s deliberations on the proposed new and revised ISAs were informed by international research, two public consultations, stakeholder outreach including three public roundtables held in 2012, and the 165 responses to the June 2012 Invitation to Comment: Improving the Auditor’s Report. “The signals from these inputs were clear: Change is essential. There is support for the IAASB’s direction, and for a global solution. Challenges exist, but they can be overcome,” said Prof. Schilder.

The exposure draft includes a new proposed ISA entitled, "Communicating Key Audit Matters in the Independent Auditor’s Report." This proposed ISA directs auditors of financial statements of listed entities to communicate in their report those matters that, in the auditor’s professional judgment, were of most significance in the audit of the financial statements. “The intended outcome of this proposal is more informative audit reports, with information about the audit of the financial statements that is unique and more specific to the entity that has been audited,” noted IAASB technical director James Gunn.

Among other enhancements, the IAASB is also proposing requirements for auditors to include specific statements about going concern in their reports, to make an explicit statement about the auditor’s independence from the audited entity and, for listed entities, to disclose the name of the engagement partner in the auditor’s report. The exposure draft includes example reports that illustrate the application of the proposed new and revised ISAs in various circumstances.

The IAASB is inviting all stakeholders to respond to the exposure draft, which includes specific questions for respondents on key aspects of the proposals and highlights areas of focus for various stakeholders in responding to the exposure draft. To access the exposure draft and submit a comment, visit the IAASB’s Web site. Comments on the exposure draft are requested by Nov. 22, 2013.

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