Evolving practice monitoring to improve quality in A&A engagements

A new approach to practice monitoring aims to deter quality issues in
accounting, auditing, and attestation engagements with the help of a
new technological tool being created for peer reviewers and firms.

The AICPA is developing a concept for the future of practice
monitoring as part of its Enhancing Audit Quality initiative. The
AICPA in December released a concept paper describing a vision for the
future of practice monitoring and is seeking feedback on that vision.

Under the concept that the Institute is crafting, peer reviewers and
firms would use a new practice-monitoring technology platform—which
has yet to be developed—to expand the benefits of the current
peer-review program while embracing technological innovation, risk
management, and timely, transparent results.

The new approach and technology would enable firms to monitor
themselves and see if they are meeting quality targets. In addition,
peer reviewers who evaluate the quality of accounting, auditing, and
attestation engagements would be able to conduct more comprehensive
analyses and provide more timely feedback.

“Peer review is at the heart of the profession’s commitment to
enhancing the quality of accounting and auditing services. It has
evolved over the course of 35 years to ably serve the profession and
the public,” AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, said
in a news release. “The concept paper, provocative by design, presents
a significant leap forward in practice monitoring. It challenges the
profession and its stakeholders to imagine a more timely and
transparent process that offers insights into quality, in some
instances even before an engagement is completed.”

The concept for peer review will change and evolve as a result of
feedback, but the principles of the vision call for audit
effectiveness to be enhanced by:

As currently envisioned, five activities would form the basis of
practice monitoring:

A self-monitoring tool is being developed based on some of the
principles. The tool will be pilot-tested by a select, voluntary group
of small, medium, and large firms.

That tool, after modification based on the pilot, will provide the
basis for a more permanent program that would apply to all firms in
the future.

The new model would provide potential and existing clients, users of
financial statements, regulators, and others a means to understand the
quality of a firm’s services. Meanwhile, internal users would be able
to monitor, via a dashboard, the status of the firm’s engagement
activities and compliance with metrics pertaining to the areas that
are subject to monitoring.

The current concept calls for cumulative results of engagement
quality indicators to generate ratings that would display for firm
management and external stakeholders the firm’s participation in the
program, the extent of services, and certain performance metrics.

Comments on the concept paper can be submitted by June 15 by email
at prsupport@aicpa.org or online at aicpa.org/futurepracticemonitoring.

Ken Tysiac is a JofA editorial director. To comment
on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact
him at ktysiac@aicpa.org or 919-402-2112.

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