From the Regulators

Changes aim to more readily flag possible concerns about the quality of audit work

By James Langton |

Securities regulators have finalized changes to their auditor oversight rules that aim to further boost the transparency of the auditor oversight process, and ultimately bolster investor confidence in financial reporting.

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) Thursday published final amendments final amendments to NI 52-108 Auditor Oversight, which aim to more readily flag possible concerns about the quality of audit work. The amendments change the "triggers" for when an auditor must inform securities regulators about any "significant remedial actions" imposed on the firm by the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB). The CSA says that the amendments will increase transparency to regulators themselves about CPAB concerns with the quality of audits.

Specifically, the amendments will require additional disclosure in a prospectus when an issuer's financial statements were audited by a firm that's not subject to CPAB oversight; they also reduce the filing period requirements for a change of auditor notice; and, require auditors to notify the regulator if a reporting issuer does not file a required change of auditor notice.

The CSA notes that, for now, it's not making any substantive changes to the existing requirements for when an accounting firm must alert its clients' audit committees about CPAB inspections. Earlier this year, the CPAB adopted a voluntary protocol that will allow audit firms to communicate more information about inspection findings. So, the CSA intends to see how that voluntary approach works before it decides whether further changes to its rules are needed.

"Informing securities regulators about audit quality issues identified by the Canadian Public Accountability Board will assist them in overseeing Canada's capital markets and contribute to enhanced investor confidence in the integrity of financial reporting of reporting issuers," said Bill Rice, chairman of the CSA and chairman and CEO of the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC).

Subject to ministerial approvals, the amendments come into force on September 30.