The PCAOB’s recently proposed auditing standards aim to “provide investors and other financial statement users with potentially valuable information that investors have expressed interest in receiving but have not had access to in the past” by changing the standard auditor’s report and increasing the auditor’s responsibilities. Sounds like a lofty goal, except that the information that they are proposing to require auditors to provide is either (i) self-evident; (ii) an infringement on the judgment of the issuer’s audit committee; or (iii) just plain not helpful. What the proposed auditing standards do accomplish, however, is to add more costs to being a public company just like their last proposal on mandatory auditor rotation.
Critical Audit Matters. Under the proposed auditing standards, an auditor will be required to include a discussion in its auditor’s report about the issuer’s “critical audit matters.” Difficult, subjective, or complex judgments, items that posed the most difficulty in obtaining sufficient evidence, and items that posed the most difficulty in forming the opinion on the financial statements are deemed to be “critical audit matters.” While this requirement may seem straightforward at first, the reality is that this “new” information should be self-evident by anyone who knows how to read a financial statement. Revenue recognition, estimates for allowances, pension assumptions, etc. are typically deemed to be “critical audit matters” by an auditor when planning audit procedures. These critical accounting policies are already discussed in issuers’ MD&A and in their financial statements. Further, any investor who actually is looking at the fundamentals of an issuer’s business and historical results should already be highly focused on estimates that, if wrong, could materially impact the financial statements. Auditors will end up being overly inclusive on what is deemed “critical” for fear of having Continue Reading PCAOB proposal piling on more costs for public companies (again)