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Supporting confidence

The 10th anniversary meeting of the Audit Quality Forum highlighted its past and future challenges.

Over the 10 years since the Audit Quality Forum (AQF) was formed, it has established a worldwide reputation for challenging current thinking and practice in audit and corporate reporting and it has high hopes for the next decade. "There is no room for complacency" says Charles Bowman, chairman of the AQF and a partner at PwC. "But we can be justly proud of the role the AQF has played over the past decade, and when the Forum recently convened for its 10th anniversary debate, we shared some of our ambitions for the next 10 years."

The AQF will build on earlier work programmes - which most recently explored the reliability of Cinancial statements and how auditors can respond to society's expectations for Cinancial information they can trust - to look more broadly at confidence in business and what audit can do to support this. The extended focus was reflected in the Forum theme 'Can business can ever get it right?' (see page 4 for vote results); and the complexity and diversity of the Forum debates on the questions 'What is the role of business in society?' and 'How innovative can business be?'

In a keynote speech on future challenges for the Cinancial system, Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alan Yarrow, highlighted the strengths of the UK Cinancial services sector and the need to be more positive: 'It is the envy of the world.' He also expressed concerns about erosion of the UK principle of innocent before proven guilty and the rise of trial in the court of public opinion.' This is no small problem for our Cinancial systems now and in the future. It could endanger the wellbeing of industries that do so much to support British jobs, pensions and public services.'

The role of business

Sir Win Bischoff, chairman of the Financial Reporting Council, talked about the integral role of business in society: 'People who get up and go to work each morning don't become society when they go home in the evening.' However, Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International, noted the dissonance between society's views of business and businesses' views of business - and between the corporate social responsibility reports of some businesses and behaviours such as aggressive tax avoidance and environmental damage.

This is an extract from an article in the May 2015 edition of Audit & Beyond, the magazine of the Audit and Assurance Faculty.

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