10 th May Dear Peter, Re: Audit Quality in Australia: A Strategic Review

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1 10 th May 2010 Mr. Peter Levy Audit Quality Strategic Review Crpratins and Financial Services Divisin The Treasury Langtn Crescent PARKES ACT 2600 Dear Peter, Re: Audit Quality in Australia: A Strategic Review Accunting Prfessinal & Ethical Standards Bard Limited (APESB) welcmes the pprtunity t make a submissin t Treasury n its paper Audit Quality in Australia: A Strategic Review. APESB is pleased that Treasury has undertaken this study t identify key drivers f audit quality in Australia and t assess whether any measures shuld be taken t address ptential threats t these drivers f audit quality. APESB cmmends the Treasury n its reprt and ntes the findings f the study. The APESB rle APESB is gverned by an independent bard f directrs setting standards with the primary bjective f develping and issuing, in the public interest, apprpriate prfessinal and ethical standards which apply t the membership f the three Australian prfessinal accunting bdies. A secndary bjective f the APESB is t prvide the pprtunity r frum fr the discussin and cnsideratin f issues relating t prfessinal standards fr accuntants. The APESB is funded by the three majr accunting bdies, but has cmplete independence in its standard-setting activities. Our essential functin is the setting f standards, and in ding this we endeavur t incrprate a strng emphasis n prfessinalism and the rle f sund judgement in thse accuntants wh are bliged t fllw ur standards. We believe that setting high quality standards with demanding criteria cntributes t the prfessinal standing and behaviur f members f the accunting prfessin.

2 The quality f audits and financial reprting is critical t the prfessinal standing f accuntants, as well as having a majr impact n the public interest. APESB is largely dependent n ther bdies fr the mnitring, review and enfrcement f standards and we welcme the nging wrk f Treasury, ASIC and FRC in cntributing t this. APESB prmtes the imprtance f cmpliance with prfessinal and ethical standards as far as it can within its mandate and we wuld always be pleased t participate and cntribute t this activity in assciatin with Treasury and ther relevant bdies. We are in regular dialgue with the three accunting prfessinal bdies in relatin t their apprach t mnitring prfessinal and ethical behaviur. We are als clse t the wrk f the IESBA in this area, and can have influence n its directin, particularly since I was appinted a member f that bard earlier this year. APESB s Cde f Ethics and Prfessinal Standards The majr platfrm fr the standards f prfessinal and ethical behaviur is APES 110. APESB issued APES 110 The Cde f Ethics fr Prfessinal Accuntants (the Cde) in June 2006 which is binding n members f the three prfessinal accunting bdies in Australia. The Cde is based n the internatinal Cde issued by the Internatinal Ethics Standards Bard fr Accuntants (IESBA Cde). The Cde was subsequently amended by amending standards (relating t Netwrk Firm and Crpratins Law Refrm) and APESB issued a cmpiled versin f the Cde in February The Cde includes independence requirements applicable fr members wh cnduct assurance engagements and thus will be binding n auditrs wh are members f the three prfessinal accunting bdies in Australia. APESB has als issued prfessinal standards that gvern the prfessinal cnduct f members in specialist areas such as frensic accunting, valuatins, taxatin and inslvency. Revisin f APES 110 Cde f Ethics fr Prfessinal Accuntants APESB is currently undertaking a prject t update the Cde in line with the revised IESBA Cde issued in July As a first step in the prcess the Bard issued a Cnsultatin Paper n its prpsed revisin in late 2009 t seek stakehlder views n key issues that impact the drafting apprach t be adpted. The Bard has nw cnsidered cmments frm stakehlders n the issues raised in the Cnsultatin Paper and will be reviewing a first draft f the prpsed Expsure Draft at its May 2010 Bard meeting. The Bard is presently planning t issue an Expsure Draft fr public cmment by 30 June Sme f the key changes in respect f auditr independence requirements in the new IESBA Cde that wuld be f interest t yur review are: Intrductin f Public Interest Entities n whm the mre stringent independence requirements f the Cde will be applicable; Intrductin f Key Audit Partner n whm the partner rtatin requirements will be applicable in the case f Public Interest Entities. Previusly the rtatin requirements were nly applicable t the Lead Engagement Partner, Audit Review Partner (if any), and Engagement Quality Cntrl Reviewer. The expansin f the new definitin will mean that Partners wh audit significant subsidiaries f Public Interest Entities will als nw be subject t rtatin requirements; and

3 The independences requirements fr Audit and Review Engagements are split frm the independence requirements fr Other Assurance Engagements. Attached fr yur infrmatin is a summary prepared by IESBA Staff which highlights the key changes in the new IESBA Cde (Refer Appendix A). I will infrm yu in due curse when the Bard issues the APESB s Cde f Ethics as an Expsure Draft fr cmment as well as when the Bard issues the final versin f the Cde later in the year. If yu wuld like t discuss APESB s revisin f the Cde r require any additinal infrmatin, please d nt hesitate t cntact me n r Channa Wijesinghe, Technical Directr n (03) r at Yurs sincerely Kate Sparg Chairpersn

4 Appendix A Overview f Independence Requirements in the IESBA Cde (July 2009) 1 This paper prvides an verview f independence requirements cntained in Sectin 290 f the Cde f Ethics released by the Internatinal Ethics Standards Bard fr Accuntants in July 2009 that relate t rtatin, cling ff perid, prvisin f nn-assurance services, fees and cmpensatin and evaluatin plicies. Public Interest Entities Listed entity prvisins t be applied t all public interest entities. entities defined as: Listed entities; Entities defined by regulatin r legislatin as a public interest entity; and Entities fr which the audit is required by regulatin r legislatin t be cnducted in cmpliance with the same independence prvisins as apply t listed entities. Cling-ff Perid Applies t public interest entities. Cling-ff perid required befre Senir r Managing Partner f the firm jins an audit client that is a public interest entity r a Key Audit Partner jins the partner s public interest entity audit client. Key audit clients defined as: Engagement partner; Engagement quality cntrl reviewer; and Other audit partners, if any n the engagement team, wh make key decisins r judgments n significant matters with respect t the audit f the financial statements. Cling-ff perid fr Senir r Managing Partner ne year. Cling-ff perid fr key audit partners ne audit pinin cvering a perid f nt less than 12 mnths fr which the partner was nt a member f the audit team. Cling ff perid required befre individual takes n f the fllwing psitins: Directr; Officer; r Emplyee in a psitin t exert significant influence ver the preparatin f the accunting recrds financial statements. Partner Rtatin Applies t public interest entities. Key audit partners rtate after seven years with time-ut perid f tw years. 1 This dcument has been prepared by the IESBA staff t assist peple with implementatin. It is a nnauthritative dcument issued fr infrmatin purpses.

5 In rare cases due t rare cases, due t unfreseen circumstances utside f the firm s cntrl, may be permitted t stay n the engagement if cntinuity is especially imprtant t audit quality. Rtatin nt required when: Independent regulatr has prvided an exemptin frm partner rtatin where firm has nly a few peple with necessary knwledge and skill t serve as key audit partner; and Independent regulatr has prvided alternative safeguards Nn-assurance services Management Functins A firm shall nt perfrm management functins fr an audit client Management functins: Leading and directing an entity, including making significant decisins regarding the acquisitin, deplyment and cntrl f human, financial, physical and intangible resurces When prviding nn-assurance services management respnsible fr: Making the significant decisins and judgments; and Accepting respnsibility fr the actins t be taken as the result f the service Accunting and Bkkeeping Services Can prvide services related t the preparatin f accunting recrds and financial statements if services are f a rutine r mechanical nature Except in emergency situatins, shall nt prvide accunting and bkkeeping services, including payrll services, r prepare financial statements r financial infrmatin which frms the basis f the financial statements Valuatin Services Cannt prvide valuatins services that are material and invlve significant subjectivity Guidance n meaning f significant subjectivity when the results f the valuatin perfrmed by tw r mre parties nt likely t be materiality different Cannt prvide valuatin services if wuld have a material effect, separately r in the aggregate, n the financial statements

6 Tax Return Preparatin Such services d nt nrmally create threats t independence prvided management takes respnsibility fr the returns, including any significant judgments made: The services are typically prvided based n facts already in existence r transactins that have already ccurred; Analysis and presentatin f histrical infrmatin under existing law; Tax return is subject t whatever review r apprval prcess the tax authrity cnsiders is apprpriate. Tax Calculatins Preparing calculatins f current and deferred tax liabilities fr the purpse f the preparatin f the accunting entries may create a self-review threat. The significance f the threat will depend n: Degree f subjectivity invlved in the calculatins; and Materiality Except in emergency situatins, cannt prvide service if fr the purpse f preparing accunting entries that are material t the financial statements Tax Planning and Other Advisry Services Self-review threat may be created when advice affects matters reflected in the financial statements. Significance depends n: Degree f subjectivity and materiality Level f tax expertise f client Extent t which advice is supprted by law r regulatin Whether effectiveness f the advice depends n accunting treatment and there is reasnable dubt as t the apprpriateness f the treatment Where the effectiveness f tax advice depends n a particular accunting treatment r presentatin, and Reasnable dubt as t apprpriateness f the related accunting treatment r presentatin; and Outcme f tax advice will have a material impact n the financial statements Self-review threat wuld generally be s significant n safeguards culd reduce the threat t an acceptable level Assistance in Reslutin f Tax Disputes Advcacy threat may be created when firm represents audit client in reslutin f a tax dispute nce tax authrities have rejected client s argument and are referring the matter fr determinatin in a frmal prceeding. Significance depends n: Whether firm has prvided tax advice n the matter Materiality Extent t which matter supprted by tax law r regulatin Rle management plays in the reslutin f the dispute

7 If services invlve acting as an advcate fr an audit client befre a public tribunal r curt in the reslutin f a tax matter and the amunts are material t the financial statements created wuld be t significant What cnstitutes a public tribunal r curt depends upn hw the tax prceedings are heard in the particular jurisdictin Internal Audit Services Shall nly prvide internal audit services if firm is satisfied that management takes respnsibility fr the services Shall nt assume a management respnsibility Perfrming a significant part f the internal audit activities increases pssibility f assuming a management respnsibility Shall nt prvide internal audit services that relate t: A significant part f the internal cntrls ver financial reprting Financial accunting systems that generate infrmatin that is, separately r in the aggregate, material t the financial statements Amunts r disclsures that are, separately r in the aggregate, material t the financial statements Infrmatin Technlgy Services Design r implement likely t create t significant a self-review threat unless specified safeguards are applied Shall nt prvide design r implementatin services All entities Installatin f pre-packaged sftware is acceptable prvided required custmizatin is insignificant Litigatin Supprt Services Shall nt prvide service invlving estimatin f damages if matters are material and invlve a significant degree f subjectivity Shall nt prvide services invlving estimatin f damages if matters are material

8 Crprate Finance Services Shall nt prvide services when Effectiveness f advice depends n a particular accunting treatment Advice is material Reasnable dubt as t apprpriateness f accunting treatment Recruiting Services Fees Shall nt prvide the fllwing services with respect t a directr r fficer r senir management in a psitin t exert significant influence ver the preparatin f the accunting recrds r financial statements Search fr r seek ur candidates Undertake reference checks f prspective candidates If ttal fees frm an audit client exceed 15% f ttal fee f the firm fr tw years Pre-issuance review perfrmed by prfessinal accuntant wh is nt a member f the firm: r Pst-issuance review perfrmed by prfessinal accuntant wh is nt a member f the firm Partner Cmpensatin and Evaluatin Key audit partners shall nt be evaluated n r cmpensated based n the partner s success in selling nn-assurance services t their audit clients Cmpensating r evaluating ther members f the audit team fr selling nn-assurance services may create a threat

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