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Audit Quality Forum (AQF)

Tackling the big issues and making public policy work

The AQF was formed in 2004 at the instigation of the UK Government. It is supported by ICAEW, UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The AQF encourages open and constructive dialogue about issues which are in the broadest sense related to audit quality. It is currently working with stakeholders to explore the challenges facing business stewardship and their impact on society. More information about its work in this area can be found in the Helping business get it right section below.

If you have any questions about the Audit Quality Forum please email the Audit and Assurance Faculty.

What is the AQF?

ICAEW's Audit and Assurance Faculty set up the Audit Quality Forum in 2004 at the request of the UK government at a time when there were real concerns about audit. Since then the AQF has established a worldwide reputation for challenging current thinking and practice, and informing legislative developments in auditing and reporting.

It brings together a range of stakeholders to tackle issues that are relevant to audit quality and confidence in business. It has no formal status in law or regulation but will continue for as long as there is support for it and issues to debate.

It is supported by ICAEW, UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

Helping business get it right

Three years’ work culminated in a series of thought-provoking debates at the Mansion House in November 2017 as we examined the role of auditors in the areas of prosperity, security, fairness and integrity, and whether we could confidently say yes to the question, Do we still need auditors? 

Business today faces huge and often conflicting demands. Society expects business to ‘get it right’ – to manage these demands and deliver on expectations and it looks to auditors to support confidence in business. The AQF is exploring the challenges for business of getting it right and how auditors can support this.

The increasing challenge and scrutiny of experts by the public and what this means for business who employ them was the central theme of June 2017’s Audit Quality Forum event, Believe me, I’m an expert?

In December 2016, with inequality one of the defining challenges of our times, the AQF asked How can business reduce inequalities?

In June 2016 the AQF focussed on the responsibility of business to society, particularly in terms of tax, and asked the question Is business paying its fair share of tax?

In November 2015 the AQF focused on the importance of getting business culture right at its event Whose culture is it anyway? One of the things any business needs to get right is its culture. Companies having responsibilities to achieve a clear business purpose and behave in a socially acceptable way. The results will feed into the FRC’s Culture Project.

In March 2015, at its 10th anniversary event at the Mansion House, the AQF asked the question Can business ever get it right? We heard that business gets it right when it pays tax, makes money, looks after people, is transparent, innovates, creates new jobs and cares for the planet – and that not one but all of these are important for business to get it right.

Our track record

Having looked first at ways to improve shareholder involvement in audit, the AQF moved on to look at the fundamentals of high quality audit and whether, and how, international standards could help. It became clear with these two programmes of work that it was not possible to look at audit in isolation as there were wider factors to consider. This led to the evolution programme which considered the impact of audit committees, stakeholder expectations and changes in financial reporting and audit practice.

By now the AQF was an important international voice on audit issues and so the AQF’s agenda broadened to look at global challenges. This culminated in a landmark paper on how to achieve international consistency in audit quality.

More recently, the AQF has explored an agenda relating to the reliability of audited financial statements and how auditors can respond to society’s expectations for reliable information, and finally has taken this agenda further to look more broadly at confidence in business. In light of the recent global financial crisis and its wider impact on trust, it seemed right that the audit profession should consider what it can do to help support confidence in business – and this provided the platform for ‘Can business ever get it right?’.

AQF webcasts

Learn more about the AQF's findings through its webcasts