Proposals

Proposal Would Let Retired CPAs Take Their Three Letters Off Into the Sunset

My CPA license is inactive. Has been for years. Maybe I could use some discounted life insurance, but otherwise, I'm fine. CPAs who retire from the daily grind and don't keep up on their CPE are also inactive, however, some states (Arizona, Mississippi, Washington, among others) allow for a "CPA Retired" status with varying requirements. […]

The PCAOB Is Considering Naming Partners In a Separate Partner Naming Form

We're still on this, apparently, and the PCAOB isn't letting up. In an attempt to satisfy stakeholders, curious accounting tabloids, and industry lobbying groups and the firms they serve, the PCAOB is floating the idea of a new form that exists solely for the purpose of naming partners. "Form 5" would be filed shortly after […]

BDO Forgot to Ask Investors What They Thought About the PCAOB’s Proposed Auditor Report Changes

They managed to round up a lot of their (and their competitors') clients though! According to a new study by BDO USA, LLP, one of the nation’s leading accounting and consulting organizations, less than one-third (27%) of public company board members believe the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board's (PCAOB) proposed changes to the annual auditor's report […]

Just in Time for the Holidays: A PCAOB Auditor ID Proposal

Auditors are traditionally quiet participants in a company’s final annual report, signing their firm’s name on a form letter with a simple pass or fail grade. But a push to gain more insight into their process is growing globally, meeting demands for more disclosure from both regulators and investors. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the […]

You Know the Convergence of Loan Loss Accounting Is in Sorry Shape When Banks Are a Voice of Reason

Right now, the FASB and IASB are nowhere near agreeing on how loan loss accounting should be done and fifteen (!!!) banks including Bank of America, JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo would like the rulemaking bods to get their act together:  While we acknowledge the difficulty inherent in reconciling disparate points of view, we […]

At Best, FASB’s Credit Loss Proposal Could Result in Earnings Management; At Worst, FASB’s Credit Loss Proposal Could Result in Lots of Earnings Management

The idea behind the FASB's credit loss proposal is that it would require banks to report the future losses they expect to incur on their loan portfolios. If you think that would require a lot of judgment — or maybe a Magic 8 Ball — you'd be right!  The FASB proposal would allow banks to use their […]

Senator Carl Levin Wants Auditor Names

Back in October, the PCAOB officially proposed that audit partners be required to slap their name on the audit report of clients that register with the SEC. For those inside the profession, this proposal isn't exactly popular, as that would put a specific name and a specific face with audit failures.  In other words, no […]

The PCAOB Proposes Ideas on How Auditors Can Better Communicate with Other Human Beings

Last week the PCAOB announced that it was getting serious about audit committee communication after it was revealed that Ernst & Young kinda sorta didn’t think the Repo 105 sitch was worth brining up to the Lehman Brothers audit committee. Granted, Dick Fuld is pretty scary dude and has probably eaten plenty of Big 4 partners for breakfast in his day but avoiding the awkward convo this time around almost resulted in everyone fighting over stale hot dog buns in the street.


Oh sure, the PCAOB has been kicking this around for awhile but something needed to happen to get their motors going and it appears that the LEH/E&Y fallout has done the trick. We might be completely wrong on this but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the PCAOB has lost faith in auditors to do their jobs and will continue to inundate them with rules until they get an “Uncle.”

How about that statement? It’s the typical press release whathaveyou including quotes from the bigshots:

“The proposed standard on audit committee communications is intended to enhance the relevance and effectiveness of the communications between an auditor and audit committee throughout the course of an engagement,” said PCAOB Acting Chairman Daniel L. Goelzer.

“The proposed standard contains appropriate requirements to achieve effective, two-way communication between the auditor and the audit committee, which we believe would improve audit quality,” said Chief Auditor, Martin F. Baumann.

So if we take Goelzer and Baumann at their word, audit committee communication has been pretty ineffective up to this point? That’s good to know.

And here’s the gist of the required communication:

• Communication of an overview of the audit strategy, including a discussion of significant risks, the use of the internal audit function; and the roles, responsibilities, and location of firms participating in the audit;

• Communication regarding critical accounting polices, practices, and estimates;

• Communication regarding the auditor’s evaluation of a company’s ability to continue as a going concern; and,

• Evaluation by the auditor of the adequacy of the two-way communications.

So there’s your checklist people. Sorry to ask but were these items not being discussed previously? One could assume that since these items are on the list, they weren’t always being discussed in practice. Does standard audit committee communication revolve around Gossip Girl? Tiger Woods’ mistresses?

This really appears to be an example of the PCAOB taking away auditors’ “professional judgment” and making them “professional inquisitors.” Further, as Jim Peterson has pointed out, checking off required communication will do nothing to protect auditors from liability in the future, “there is no legal defense or ‘safe harbor’ in American law based on proof of compliance with professional standards – box ticked or otherwise.”

In other words, make all the professional requirements you want, auditors are still going to get sued and claiming “But we checked the box!” will not work as a defense. So the rationale must have been checklists are fun and easy to follow? Sigh. You’ve got until May 27th to get your thoughts in on this thing before it gets rubber stamped. Get on it.

Press Release [PCAOB]