The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board has released for public comment a new proposed International Standard on Auditing that clarifies and enhances the scope and focus of auditor efforts on other information included in documents containing or accompanying the entity’s audited financial statements.

The proposed standards, ISA 720 (Revised), The Auditor’s Responsibilities Relating to Other Information in Documents Containing or Accompanying Audited Financial Statements and the Auditor’s Report Thereon, recognize that significant changes in financial reporting have occurred over the last two decades regarding the information issued in connection with an entity’s financial statements and the manner in which it is shared with users.

“Today, pertinent disclosures are made not only within financial statements, but also outside of them,” said IAASB chairman Arnold Schilder in a statement. “As preparers endeavor to better communicate with stakeholders, these disclosures are being disseminated through a diverse range of documents as other information that accompanies audited financial statements. Users are attaching greater importance to this information, particularly when it is more qualitative in nature. The public interest question is: Is this auditing standard as up-to-date as it needs to be, and does it do enough to ensure that auditors review this other information in the context of their understanding of the audited entity? Our proposals for an enhanced ISA 720 seek to evolve the requirements so that they remain relevant and sufficient in today’s financial reporting environment.”

Under the proposed standard, the auditor is required to read and consider the other information in light of the understanding of the entity and its environment the auditor has acquired during the course of the audit, and to respond appropriately when the auditor identifies a potential material inconsistency in the other information or a material misstatement in the audited financial statements. The proposed ISA 720 expands the documents considered as “other information,” and clarifies and enhances the nature of the auditor’s responsibilities with respect to reading and considering other information. In addition, it includes guidance to assist auditors in determining the nature and extent of their work in considering the other information.

Proposed ISA 720 (Revised) also introduces reporting obligations to explain in the auditor’s report the nature of the auditor's responsibilities relating to the other information and the findings from the auditor's work, to enhance transparency. The proposals do not extend the scope of the auditor’s opinion on the financial statements to cover the other information.

The IAASB is inviting all stakeholders to comment on its proposals. To access the exposure draft or submit a comment, visit the IAASB’s Web site at Comments on the exposure draft are requested by March 14, 2013.