The Center for the PublicTrust (CPT), along with the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity of Baruch College, continued their collaboration and co-sponsored “Ensuring Integrity: the Fourth Annual Audit Conference” in New York City on December 11, 2009. By bringing together top speakers from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the conference provided a lively forum for interaction between business, public accounting, academics and policy setters. Current best practices of ethics and independence within the auditing profession were highlighted throughout the day.
Keynote speaker Robert J. Keuppers, Deputy CEO of Deloitte &Touche, LLP, noted that the landscape is constantly evolving, and trust in the accounting profession has been challenged time after time. Although there have been breakdowns in the thoroughness and integrity of the audit process, there are no systematic problems.The accounting profession must meet evolving market needs while keeping true to its fundamentals. Professional skepticism, ethics and integrity have always been cornerstones of the profession.
Martin Bauman, Chief Auditor of the PCAOB, reported that the Standing Advisory Group (SAG) is working on standards to assist in improving risk-assessment. They are also collaborating closely with other organizations in order to create a comparison between these standards and other organizations’ standards.
Stimulating panel sessions also marked the conference. During the “Auditing Fair Value” panel discussion, it was noted that anything can be valued under fair value, but one needs to determine the appropriate approach and rely on guidelines. Al Paulus, Partner at Ernst & Young, LLP, and Director of Professional Practice -Auditing, recommended taking a cue from Missourians and by saying, “Show me.” Moderator, Brian Richson, a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP partner, noted that the landscape of the credit market has changed and “substantial doubt” is not understood by audit users. During the discussion entitled “What Every Auditor Should Know” discussion a participant asked, “When doing an audit, how much should I think about liability and how much about doing my job?” MichaelYoung recommended that auditors do what they are trained to do: Do what makes sense and try to keep the objective of transparency in the forefront of thinking. The crux of litigation is the auditor was not transparent,which can dampen candor.
Plans are underway for the 2010 Conference next December.
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