The ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), a leading global accountancy body, has stated that it is “broadly supportive” of the UK’s update to ethical standards (ES) for auditors to align with international best practice. However, it notes the need for clarification and additional guidance.
ACCA has said that the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC’s) revised and updated ethical standards reflects the significant developments in the International Ethics Standards Board got Accountants (IESBA) Code since FRC’s last revision in 2019.
The ACCA suggests an impact assessment to assess which entities will be excluded as a result of the removal of the OEPI (other entities of public interest) category and to determine the significance of this categorisation change. ACCA considers that the removal of the OEPI classification would simplify the ethical requirements for auditors, improve compliance and reduce uncertainty around the application of the ethical requirements.
ACCA agrees with the enhanced prohibition where an audit firm’s independence could be threatened by an economic over reliance on fees from specific connected entities.
Commenting on this, ACCA director of policy and insights, Mike Suffield, said: “Economic over reliance could impair objectivity and independence giving rise to self-interest and intimidation threats. This prohibition will be a step forward in renewing public confidence in the quality of audits.”
If implemented the extension of restrictions on the provision of non-audit or additional services will align the FRC’s standard more closely with international standards.
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ACCA continues to support FRC’s effort to simplify the standard but also called on the FRC to ensure it updates the standard as often as necessary to keep up to date with IESBA changes, and additional guidance outside of the ES is provided to facilitate consistent application.
ACCA regional policy and insights lead for UK & EEMA, Jessica Bingham, concluded: “We recommend that the FRC continues to conduct regular reviews of any breach reporting trends to ensure the identification of areas where further guidance could be provided.”