Today, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) published its Strategy for 2020‒2023 (the Strategy) and Work Plan for 2020‒2021 (the Work Plan).
The strategy, developed through extensive external consultation over two years, looks to build sustained trust in financial and other reporting through high-quality audits, assurance, and related services engagements. The IAASB also recognizes the need to address the impact of technology, demands relating to changing reporting needs (including demands in relation to non-financial reporting), and changing expectations for the audit.
“The IAASB recognizes the significant challenges facing the audit profession and the standards that govern it. This Strategy and Work Plan provides an important compass for our organization to address these challenges in a highly responsive and innovative manner,” said Tom Seidenstein, Chair of the IAASB. “We will inevitably need to adapt over the strategy’s four-year period, but the emphasis on the public interest, innovation and agility, and collaboration should remain relevant.”
Consistent with governance requirements, the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB), the IAASB’s independent oversight body, concluded at its March 2020 meeting that the IAASB developed its Strategy and Work Plan in accordance with due process and with proper regard for the public interest.
Key IAASB Strategy and Work Plan Elements
The strategy sets three strategic objectives to focus IAASB priorities and resources during 2020‒2023:
- Increase the emphasis on emerging issues to ensure that the IAASB International Standards provide a foundation for high-quality audit, assurance and related services engagements
- Innovate the IAASB’s ways of working to strengthen and broaden our agility, capabilities, and capacity to do the right work at the right time
- Maintain and deepen relationships with stakeholders to achieve globally relevant, progressive and operable standards
The Work Plan describes, at the time of the December 2019 approval, how the IAASB intends to increase its focus on emerging issues, while completing the existing work already committed to and underway. In the Work Plan, the IAASB anticipates standard-setting projects on going concern, fraud, and audit evidence, and work to address the needs of auditors of Less Complex Entities, among other topics. To support an evidence-based and structured consideration of new topics, the IAASB Work Plan highlights a new Framework for Activities, comprising several key components, to help the IAASB develop informed and targeted responses to address emerging issues and topics of global relevance.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Strategy and Work Plan
While the IAASB approved its strategy before the pandemic, the three strategic objectives remain relevant. The IAASB has used these strategic objectives to help prioritize its crisis response. For example, the IAASB has developed, and is continuing to develop, guidance on audit considerations in response to the pandemic. The IAASB is enhancing its interactions with national audit standard-setters, regulators, and independent audit oversight regimes.
At the same time, the IAASB recognizes that its Work Plan and timelines may need to adapt as new priorities emerge, the pandemic and associated restrictions impact our ability to work, and stakeholder capacity for change becomes constrained. In the coming weeks and months, the IAASB will consider potential impacts and consult, as appropriate, with the PIOB, the IAASB Consultative Advisory Group, and other stakeholders.
The outcome of IAASB consultations could lead to the reprioritization of topics and changes in the timing of projects and consultation efforts. The IAASB will post any changes on its Website.