Peer Review

Disciplinary actions from California Board of Accountancy – Spring 2021.

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The California Board of Accountancy Update newsletter, issue #93 dated Summer 2021, has details of disciplinary actions with effective dates in the spring and early summer of 2021.

Interesting thing I noticed this time around is the timing of some of the underlying issues. The attestation failures for which a date is mentioned involve financial statements issued in the 2016 or 2017 timeframe. For one of the more splendiferous failures the firm had audit failures on 2015 and 2016 financial statements which generated a failed peer review with the report dated in early 2018, which led to an investigation by the board with disciplinary action effective in June 2021. That was the firm’s second consecutive peer review fail. Firm earned a $2,500 penalty along with reimbursement of $5,000 investigatory costs.

Every CPA that had an attest failure drew a ban on attestation services until such time as the practitioner requests and receives permission from the board to again perform attest work.

Four of the practitioners who had their license revocation stayed also had a suspension of their license in the range of 60 to 90 days. Imagine the lifetime stain of an official revocation on your public record and then on top of that being prohibited from providing any CPA services for two or three months.

Here is my recap of disciplinary actions reported in this issue:

Major revision to Quality Control Standards on the horizon.

Let’s dial up the quality of our A&A work. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board is proposing a massive overhaul of the Quality Control Standards.

Who will this affect? All CPA firms who provide any audit, review, compilation, preparation, or attestation engagements. In other words, anyone with any accounting & auditing work.

As a mere starting point, the new standards will be relabelled as Quality Management Standards.  Instead of QC system, we will now have a QM system.

As a reminder, QC or QM standards apply regardless of whether you go through a system review or engagement review during your tri-annual peer review. The QC/QM system is tested in a system review but you still must have a formal QC/QM system even if you only do comps and reviews.

This post will provide a quick mention of what I see as the three biggest changes followed by a lengthy summary.

Major changes

A massive change that will impact small firms is that the annual inspection (which is currently required and will continue to be required) may not be performed by anyone who worked on the engagement.

For one person firms, this will require us to get someone outside the firm to perform the annual inspection. Two or three partner firms where the partners do essentially all of the work will also have to get someone from outside to do the inspection.

Two of the other changes of note: new risk assessment process and annual evaluation of quality management system.

The risk assessment process will require establishing quality objectives, identifying risks to achieving those quality objectives, and implement responses to address the quality risks.

After a one year delay to allow running the new QM system for a while the new requirement of an annual assessment of the QM system will kick in.

Proposed effective dates

The first Statements on Quality Management Standards, referred to as SQMS #1, is proposed to require the new quality management system be designed and implemented by December 15, 2023. The first annual evaluation of the system of quality management is proposed to be required within one year following December 15, 2023.

Rephrasing the effective date, the new QM system has to be in place before the end of 2023 (by 12/15/23 to be exact). That is about 2½ years from now. The first annual evaluation will be required one year after that, by the end of 2024 (specific deadline 12/15/24).

Summary of exposure drafts

Disciplinary actions from California Board of Accountancy for late 2020.

….what you do not want to have happen to your license. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Update #92 newsletter from California Board of Accountancy dated winter 2021 lists 14 disciplinary actions summarized below. This tally excludes one listed action which is ending probation for a CPA and another separately listed case for the corporation owned by an individual who is also disciplined.

All these actions are effective at various times during November and December 2020.

My tally of these cases:

Disciplinary actions from California Board of Accountancy for the middle of 2020.

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Update #91 newsletter from the California Board of Accountancy, dated Fall 2020, lists 33 disciplinary actions. The effective dates run from May 2020 through August 2020. Yeah, I’m just getting around to writing about the newsletter that arrived last November.

A few general observations before diving into a summary of the causes and levels of discipline.

Of the 10 stayed revocations for attestation failures, all but one had an attestation ban. General pattern is an audit failure will lead to a ban on attest services. The summary of the case does not give an indication why one CPA didn’t draw a ban.

Usually these are bans from performing any audits, reviews, compilations, or attestation engagements. Some of them were just bans from audits. Pattern seems to be the ban is for the duration of probation and then after that a firm may request permission to again perform attest work.

Imagine if you will, that attest work is a significant portion of your work and you cannot perform any of those for three years.

One big firm listed in this edition is PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who drew a stayed suspension with 18 months probation because of discipline by the SEC. They also earned a $300,000 fine and up to $26,000 reimbursement of costs for investigation and monitoring. An additional consequence is distributing a copy of the order to every employee who is in the state of California.

Of the seven disciplinary actions because of enforcement actions by federal agencies, six are from the SEC and one from PCAOB.

The attestation failures usually include three or four or more specific violations. For example, the actions may because there was not appropriate documentation, the opinion was not supported by workpapers, and there were violations of GAAS and violations of GAAP.  Those are overlapping issues but a major audit failure will likely cause a violation in all of those areas. Of grim note for two of the attest failures is one of the listed charges includes creating documentation after release of the audit report. You can make your guess as to what an allegation of that nature includes but could have been creating documentation after workpapers had been called in for review.

Here is a tally of the 33 cases:

Disciplinary actions by California Board of Accountancy in first half of 2019.

That view is enough to make you cringe. Sort of like some of the situations recently addressed by the Board of Accountancy. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Update newsletter issue 89 for Fall 2019 has 33 disciplinary actions listed. Timeframe of the effective dates is the first half of 2019.  My recap of actions by the California Board of Accountancy is listed below. I counted as one action those situations involving a firm and the owner of the firm.

Revocations

audit fail other issue
1 3 felony
1 1 didn’t complete contracted service
1 audit fail
1 audit fail and no peer review
1 no peer review & expired license
2 probation violations
1 some deeper issues, not quite apparent from summary
4 8 total revocations

 

Of the CPAs with felony issues, two were for embezzlement, one also had an audit failure, and another ended up with conviction on 12 counts.

Two of the revocations were for rather extensive violations of a previous disciplinary action.

Revocations stayed

“Resources from the AICPA’s Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) Initiative” – PR Prompts!, part 6

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In November 2019, the AICPA published the first of a new semi-annual newsletter, PR Prompts!, designed to help CPAs keep current on peer review news.

The AICPA gave me permission to reprint portions of the newsletter on my blog.

This is the last of six posts to help you stay up to date.

The following comment is quoted verbatim. For ease of reading it will not be set inside quotation marks:

 

Resources from the AICPA’s Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) Initiative

Through the EAQ, the AICPA provides resources and education to help you avoid the most common audit quality issues. Check out their latest resources:

Risk Assessment and Response

In a survey of peer reviewers, over 50% of firms reviewed failed to comply with the risk assessment standards. Access free risk assessment tools, including industry-specific resources, to help you avoid common issues.

Also, watch the EAQ’s ENGAGE conference presentation with methodology providers to learn how to properly apply their methodologies and avoid the areas creating the most challenges for practitioners.

Internal Control

“Auditor Reporting” – PR Prompts!, part 5

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A complete overhaul of the auditor’s report for audits of 12/31/20 financial statements is going to be a very big deal. Please tune in to the new standards!

In November 2019, the AICPA published the first of a new semi-annual newsletter, PR Prompts!, designed to help CPAs keep current on peer review news.

The AICPA gave me permission to reprint portions of the newsletter on my blog.

This is the fifth of six posts to help you stay up to date.

I have looked at this page on the AICPA website. It is quite helpful. If you provide audits to your clients, it would be worth your time to find, browse, and bookmark this page.

The following comment is quoted verbatim. For ease of reading it will not be set inside quotation marks:

 

Auditor Reporting

The form and content of the auditor’s reports will change substantively which will be effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2020. Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 134, Auditor Reporting and Amendments, Including Amendments Addressing Disclosures in the Audit of Financial Statements, was issued in May 2019. SAS No. 134 includes a new AU-C section 701, Communicating Key Audit Matters in the Independent Auditor’s Report, and replaces the following AU-C sections in AICPA Professional Standards:

“Auditing Standards Issued in 2019: Information and Resources” – PR Prompts!, part 4

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In November 2019, the AICPA published the first of a new semi-annual newsletter, PR Prompts!, designed to help CPAs keep current on peer review news.

The AICPA gave me permission to reprint portions of the newsletter on my blog.

This is the fourth of six posts to help you stay up to date.

 

I have looked at the following page on the AICPA website. It is quite helpful. If you provide audits to your clients, it would be worth your time to find, browse, and bookmark this page.

The following comment is quoted verbatim. For ease of reading it will not be set inside quotation marks:

 

Auditing Standards Issued in 2019: Information and Resources

This is an exciting time in the auditing space. Standards are changing to keep up with today’s business environment. To set you up for success, we’ve gathered resources on auditing standards that include on changes to the auditing reporting standard, the employee benefit plan auditing standard and the other information standard. These include backgrounders, FAQs and news articles.

 

As mentioned at the top of this post, this article is reprinted with permission of the AICPA.

 

“Single Audits – 2019 Compliance Supplement” – PR Prompts!, part 3

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In November 2019, the AICPA published the first of a new semi-annual newsletter, PR Prompts!, designed to help CPAs keep current on peer review news.

The AICPA gave me permission to reprint portions of the newsletter on my blog.

This is the third of six posts to help you stay up to date.

The following comment is quoted verbatim. For ease of reading it will not be set inside quotation marks:

 

Single Audits – 2019 Compliance Supplement

The 2019 Compliance Supplement (Supplement) used for conducting single audits includes extensive changes from prior years. The most significant change relates to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirement for federal agencies to limit the number of requirements identified as being subject to the compliance audit; it was decreased from a maximum of 12 to 6. …

“FASB Defers Effective Dates for Three Major Accounting Standards” – PR Prompts, part 2

Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club.

In November 2019, the AICPA published the first of a new semi-annual newsletter, PR Prompts!, designed to help CPAs keep current on peer review news.

The AICPA gave me permission to reprint portions of the newsletter on my blog.

This is the second of six posts to help you stay up to date.

The following comment is quoted verbatim. For ease of reading it will not be set inside quotation marks:

 

FASB Defers Effective Dates for Three Major Accounting Standards

Effective dates will be delayed for private companies and certain other entities for the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB’s) standards on accounting for leases, credit losses (CECL) and hedging after a unanimous vote by FASB in October 2019. …

“New Requirement to Complete Your Firm’s Peer Review Information Annually” – PR Prompts, part 1

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In November 2019, the AICPA published the first of a new semi-annual newsletter, PR Prompts!, designed to help CPAs keep current on peer review news.

The AICPA gave me permission to reprint portions of the newsletter on my blog. My thanks to the AICPA for producing this information and for giving me reprint permission.

This is the first of six posts to help you stay up to date.

The following comment is quoted verbatim. For ease of reading it will not be set inside quotation marks:

 

New Requirement to Complete Your Firm’s Peer Review Information Annually

The AICPA Peer Review Program (Program) is committed to support and enhance audit quality of firms on an ongoing basis, not just during the formal process of peer review. As such, starting in mid-2020 the AICPA Peer Review Board (PRB) will require annual submission of peer review information from all firms enrolled in the Program.

The PRB expects that annual submission of peer review information will benefit firms in the following ways:

Peer review tips – tidbits from the 2019 Peer Review Conference

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If you get a peer review of your attestation practice, I heard a few ideas in the AICPA’s Peer Review Conference you might want to know about.  I attended this year’s conference via webcast. First time I’ve gone through a 16 hour class online. The technology worked acceptably well. Saving the travel time was wonderful.

Annual update to Peer Review Information form

Starting next year, May 2020 specifically, every firm enrolled in the peer review program will need to update the Peer Review Information (PRI) form annually. Each firm will have to log into PRIMA and update the list of the type of engagements performed.

Not sure the reasons this change is going into effect. One component is so AICPA can monitor for changes the nature of a firm’s client base to see if a higher level of service is needed.

Focus areas in system reviews

The AICPA surveyed CPAs who provide a large number of reviews asking them what portion of their peer review clients had significant struggles with complying with the risk assessment standards. …

Comments from recent continuing education classes worth repeating: “get in or get out”

If you are an auditor and that is a diagram of new audit rules, then you need to completely understand the graph. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are some fun or interesting or useful tidbits from the October 2018 A&A and the June 2019 Not-for-profit conferences presented by California Society of CPAs.

Previous posts had comments on accounting and auditing as well as peer review.

“Get in or get out”

The second speaker who discussed peer review in previous post also said that if you are doing A&A work you need to “get in or get out.”

Let me translate that…

Comments from recent continuing education classes worth repeating: peer review

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are some fun or interesting or useful tidbits from the October 2018 A&A and the June 2019 Not-for-profit conferences presented by California Society of CPAs.

Previous post had comments on accounting and auditing.

Peer review

One speaker said there are several common issues for weaknesses in risk assessment:

  • Limited assessment
  • No linkage (relating the assessment of risks to further audit procedures)
  • Poor use of third-party practice tools
  • No assessment of IT risks

Not doing any risk assessment is now a major problem for you in a peer review if you missed the boat on the risk suite of standards.

For Yellow Book audit, the workpapers must document SKE (skills, knowledge, experience) of staff overseeing non-attest services.  Although the professional standards do not exactly require documentation of SKE for non-attest service on a non-yellow book audit, the speaker said (if I heard correctly) that the California Peer Review Committee has a considered opinion that such documentation is required.

So, if you have non-attest services on a non-yellow book audit, …

More disciplinary actions from California Board of Accountancy

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The Update #87 newsletter from California Board of Accountancy for Summer/Fall 2018 lists 38 disciplinary actions, by my count.

You can read my previous posts on CBA actions by clicking on this tag.

Here is my tally of license revocations, surrendered licenses, and revocations with stay (there are no suspensions or stayed suspensions this time around):