United States

Changes proposed to the attestation standards

FINANCIAL REPORTING INSIGHTS  | 

The Auditing Standards Board recently issued a proposed Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE), Revisions to Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 18, Attestation Standards: Clarification and Recodification. The most significant changes in the proposed SSAE include the following, among others:

  • It would no longer require the practitioner to request a written assertion from the responsible party when the practitioner is reporting directly on the subject matter.
  • It would require the inclusion of a statement in the practitioner’s report indicating that the practitioner is independent and has fulfilled the practitioner’s other ethical responsibilities in accordance with relevant ethical requirements related to the engagement.
  • It would more closely harmonize AT-C section 210, Review Engagements, with the limited assurance provisions of International Standard on Assurance Engagements 3000 (Revised), Assurance Engagements Other Than Audits and Reviews of Historical Financial Information, including changing the term review engagement to limited assurance engagement. The proposed revisions to AT-C section 210 more explicitly describe the types of procedures a practitioner may perform in a limited assurance engagement. These procedures are much the same as the procedures a practitioner may perform in an examination engagement, except that the nature, timing and extent of those procedures are tailored to a limited assurance engagement. Also, the proposed revisions to AT-C section 210 would require that the practitioner’s report include an informative summary of the work performed as a basis for the practitioner’s conclusion.
  • It would revise AT-C section 215, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements, by:
    • No longer requiring that all of the parties to the engagement (i.e., the engaging party, the responsible party [where applicable], and users of the practitioner’s report) agree to the procedures to be performed and take responsibility for their sufficiency. Instead, the proposed revision would require that the engaging party acknowledge the appropriateness of the procedures and would explicitly allow the practitioner to develop, or assist in developing, the procedures.
    • No longer requiring the practitioner to restrict the use of all agreed-upon procedures reports to the specified parties that assume responsibility for the sufficiency of the procedures. The requirement to restrict the use of the report would apply only if the practitioner is precluded from designing or performing additional procedures, the criteria are not available to users, or the criteria are suitable only for a limited number of users. A practitioner would have the option of restricting the use of the report to certain parties.

If finalized, the proposed revised AT-C sections would be effective for examination, limited assurance and agreed-upon procedures reports dated on or after May 1, 2020. Early implementation would not be permitted. The proposed SSAE is available for comment until October 11, 2018.