Audit Committees: PCAOB’s Conversations with Committee Chairs
Earlier this month, the PCAOB issued a report on its conversations with audit committee chairs about how audit committees are thinking about the effect of COVID-19 on financial reporting and the audit as they perform their oversight duties. An excerpt from a recent WilmerHale memo provides an overview of the results of those discussions:
Increased risks associated with remote work. The most common theme among audit committee chairs that recently met with the PCAOB dealt with risks regarding remote work arrangements, with most audit committee chairs describing the rapid shift to remote work arrangements as “effective.” This was equally applicable to the company’s employees and outside auditors.
Given the greater reliance on cloud computing in remote work environments, a number of audit committee chairs noted that they have been discussing cyber-related controls within the scope of the audit and increasing the focus on the controls’ effectiveness. Based on insights shared from audit committee chairs, the Summary includes a list of example questions that audit committees may want to discuss with their auditors regarding risks related to remote work arrangements.
Increased audit committee communications with the auditor. The Summary notes that a majority of audit committee chairs cited COVID-19 as a basis for more frequent communication between auditors and audit committees. Among the topics audit committees may want to discuss with auditors, in light of COVID-19, the Summary lists a handful of considerations, including challenges to completion of the audit, the cadence of communication with auditors and management, changes in the audit plan and potential disclosure changes resulting from COVID-19.
The memo says that audit committee chairs reported three forms of auditor communication that they have found useful: discussions about trends auditors are seeing, particularly those pertaining to industry peers; presentations about audit areas that may require greater attention due to the pandemic; and audit firm resources and webinars with industry-specific content.
-John Jenkins, TheCorporateCounsel.net August 19, 2020
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