AARG pledges improved audit quality

THE Asean Audit Regulators Group (AARG) reassured its commitment to raising the bar for audit quality amid the challenges faced by the region today. The virtual plenary meeting was held on July 25, 2022 hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

It gathered more than 200 participants, composed of regulators, audit firms and business leaders from Asean in order to foster closer collaboration toward promoting auditing quality across the region.

Observers of the event included the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators secretariat and the World Bank.

During the meeting, the participants shared and discussed recent regulatory updates and developments, emerging business trends, including regional issues. Group discussions focused on topics such as environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) policy developments; ESG accounting and audit implications; Singapore’s audit adjustments study; and dialogue with the audit committees of publicly listed companies.

“Despite heightened uncertainties, auditors, audit committees and regulators play critical roles in ensuring investors and creditors are provided with high-quality financial reports that would empower them to make informed decisions,” SEC Chairman Emilio Aquino said, “recognizing that public trust is the cornerstone of fair and efficient capital formation, and maintaining high public trust remains an ongoing challenge to all of us. It requires a significant transformation in the corporate and audit firm culture, internal controls and processes, and ethical responses.”

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Aquino added that audit firms are considered vital stakeholders in economic development and nation-building and act as independent stewards of the capital market, which are deemed vital in maintaining the reliability and accuracy of financial and nonfinancial information.

The AARG has been exerting joint efforts to enhance audit quality in the Asean region. This includes engaging audit firms on joint initiatives to address common inspection findings, updates that affect audit quality, promoting the value of audits and sharing updates on audit regulatory developments in their respective jurisdictions to raise the bar of audit quality, and promote uniformity in audit standards across the region.

Besides the SEC, the group is also composed of Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Malaysia’s Audit Oversight Board, Indonesia’s Finance Professions Supervisory Center, Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission.