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IAASB Assists with Audit Considerations for the Impact of COVID-19

IAASB Chair Tom Seidenstein's Update on the Board's COVID-19 Response

Jul 31, 2020 | English

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt markets, businesses, and organizations. This disruption has spawned an environment of uncertainty and unpredictability that may create risks that are new, or intensified, in the circumstances.

To serve the public interest, the IAASB has sought to assist, adapt, and collaborate with its many stakeholders. Now is no time to relax the commitment to the public interest. Our goal is to support the important role auditors must play in sustaining trust in financial and other external reporting. The IAASB has been closely working with its national standard-setting partners and the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) to coordinate efforts and has been in regular discussion with regulatory authorities.

The purpose of this note is to update stakeholders on the outputs of our “assist” activities, although our efforts have also focused on adapting our work plan and ways of working, as well as targeted coordination with many of our stakeholders. 

A core element of our COVID-19 response has been the development of a series of specific COVID-19 audit related resources to help our stakeholders, and the larger accountancy community, navigate the application of the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) in the current circumstances.

Since March, the IAASB has published six “Staff Audit Practice Alerts” which address the following topics:

Highlights some of the broader areas that may need to be further considered in designing and performing audit procedures to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence, and to report accordingly.

Highlights key areas of focus when undertaking procedures relating to, and concluding on, the appropriateness of management’s use of the going concern basis of accounting in accordance with the ISAs, as well as reporting requirements where there are material uncertainties related to the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Highlights key areas of focus when undertaking procedures relating to subsequent events in accordance with the ISAs, i.e., matters related to events occurring between the date of the financial statements and the date of the auditor’s report and the effect, if any, of such on the entity’s financial statements.

Highlights key areas of focus relevant to auditor reporting in accordance with the ISAs, including modifications to the auditor’s opinion, the ‘material uncertainty related to going concern’-section, key audit matters, emphasis of matter and other paragraphs, as well as interim review reports (in accordance with International Standard on Review Engagements (ISRE) 2410, Review of Interim Financial Information Performed by the Independent Auditor of the Entity).

Highlights key areas of focus when undertaking audit procedures relating to accounting estimates and related disclosures in accordance with the ISAs, in particular considering the significant impact of estimation uncertainty and subjectivity in the current environment on accounting estimates.

Highlights key matters for consideration when undertaking a review of interim financial information in accordance with ISRE 2410, including the auditor’s work effort and reporting considerations. 

To allow for easier accessibility for the broader audience, the IAASB has established a separate COVID-19 Resource Page, as part of the IAASB website. This page not only houses the topic-specific Staff Audit Practice Alerts, but also provides several other areas of interest, including thought leadership from the IAASB, webinars on related topics, and links to other web-based COVID-19 resources. We encourage all direct users of our standards, as well as the broader financial community, to utilize these resources. 

The IAASB will continue to adapt the way we work for the current evolving environment and provide assistance to those who use our standards. To learn more, and be kept aware of the latest developments, join our mailing list and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, as we will announce updates to our response on all three channels. 

Yours sincerely,

Tom Seidenstein

Chair, IAASB