The biggest event in the world of audit and accountancy since my last update has been the publication of the long-awaited BEIS consultation on Restoring Trust in Audit and Corporate Governance. While a lot of its content was trailed over preceding weeks, there are a number of surprising conclusions and recommendations which have generated a lot of discussion and debate already within ICAEW including at the March Council meeting. I have been drafting a paper identifying relevant issues for the ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) meeting in April and I hope to be able to provide some understanding of our intended response in future updates.
I also presented a paper to Council in March containing the IRB’s proposals for significant changes to the framework around our disciplinary scheme. While making no substantive changes to the processes themselves, the proposal is to reduce the current number of disciplinary bye-laws from 49 to 16 core bye-laws and to move all of the process provisions out of bye-laws and into a new comprehensive set of Investigation & Disciplinary Regulations which will also incorporate and merge the individual regulations governing the operation of each of the disciplinary committees. I am pleased to report that Council voted by an overwhelming majority to support the changes and to put them to members’ vote at the Special General Meeting in June. I hope to be able to provide you with more insight into the drivers for change and to outline which bye-laws are being retained and any changes being made to them in the May edition of this newsletter and I will be looking for your support in the vote to get the changes implemented in early 2022.
The IRB has a primary duty under its Terms of Reference to act in the public interest and it is in the discharge of that duty that the Regulatory Board has supported moves by senior executives in my team to introduce the ICAEW Disciplinary Database which allows users for the first time to search for a disciplinary or regulatory record without needing to know when the hearing took place. The IRB debated and agreed the publication policy for what matters should be recorded and for how long they should stay on the database. The functionality of this new Database is a supplement to the existing list of future and past hearings and appeals and full reports of disciplinary orders and regulatory decisions made in the last five years. This continues to be available from the ‘hearings, orders and decisions’ section of icaew.com/regulation.
It was welcome news for many parents and carers (my wife and I included) that schools returned before Easter. While behind the scenes, our teams in Professional Standards continue to plan for a return for face-to-face monitoring visits and complaints hearings, it is still too early to start scheduling until we know just how far we are all going to get through Boris’ roadmap. So virtual visits will continue for the next few months so it’s good that, in this month’s issue, we have our QAD team and JCS Accountants sharing their guidance and experience on preparing for a virtual monitoring review.
Last month I referred to the importance of communication, particularly during the current pandemic and we are very pleased to announce that we’ve launched our Regulation & Conduct LinkedIn page where we will share timely updates and developments as well as reminders of some of the resources available to ICAEW regulated firms, insolvency practitioners and members. Please follow and share the page with colleagues.
This month, we continue with our series of articles from the Regulatory and Conduct committees with an insight into the work of the Audit Registration Committee, by its Chair, Rama Krishnan and an interview with Paul Brooks, Chair of the Investigation Committee (IC). Paul explains how ICAEW firms and members can engage more effectively with the process, as well as how best to avoid a referral to the IC in the first place.
Our diverse society and the accountancy profession should be reflected in all areas of our work. Last year, the IRB set up an independent nominations committee (RACAC) to ensure appointments to the IRB and the regulatory and conduct committees are as diverse and as transparent as possible. Sara Nathan OBE was appointed the first chair of the RACAC and she explains more about the role of the committee and its focus for recruitment for 2021. If you are interested in sitting on one of our committees either as a lay or non lay member, we’ve be delighted to receive your application. Find out more
Finally, please take a few minutes to check our reminders of events and webinars which are coming up which might be of interest to you and also take a few minutes to read through our Disciplinary Update if only to remind yourself of the types of conduct which have led to disciplinary records for some members and firms and to make a note to avoid any such conduct. We have more than enough complaints under investigation at the moment!
As always, we welcome your feedback. Please let us know if there is anything you’d like to see included in a future issue of Regulatory & Conduct News or on our new Regulation & Conduct LinkedIn page.
Duncan Wiggetts, Chief Officer, Professional Standards