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The new standard would require the auditor’s report to include: (i) disclosure of “critical audit matters” (“CAMs”), (ii) disclosure of auditor tenure, and (iii) other related improvements to the auditor’s report.
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In adopting these changes, the PCAOB intended to make the auditor’s report more informative and relevant to investors and other financial statement users.
While the new standard is subject to SEC approval and its implementation would be phased in over time, public companies and their audit committees should consider engaging with their auditors now to discuss how their auditors expect to approach the process for identifying and disclosing CAMs as well as understand any other potential impacts of the new standard.
Each CAM must relate to a material account or disclosure in the financial statements.
A CAM could be a component of a material account or disclosure and does not necessarily need to correspond to the entire account or disclosure in the financial statements, and it may not be material to the financial statements as a whole.The adopting release noted, as an example, that an auditor’s evaluation of a company’s goodwill impairment assessment could be a CAM if goodwill was material to the company’s financial statements, even if there was no impairment.The new standard does not specify any items that would always constitute CAMs, but instead establishes a principles-based framework for determining the existence of a CAM.However, the PCAOB acknowledged that there may be circumstances in which the auditor determines there are no matters that meet the definition of a CAM.In such an event, the auditor would be required to disclose that there were no CAMs.Other Changes to the Auditor’s Report The new standard also includes a number of additional changes to the auditor’s report that are intended to clarify the auditor’s role and responsibilities related to the audit and make the report easier to read.