16 May 2024

Explainer: The PCAOB’s New Quality Control Standard

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) recently introduced a new quality control (QC) standard to improve the QC systems of registered public accounting firms. This move is part of a broader effort to ensure that audits and other engagements are conducted to protect investors and enhance market confidence. 

Here, we break down the key elements of the new standard, QC 1000, and its implications for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) professionals.

Integrated Risk-Based Quality Control Standard

  • Focus on Accountability and Continuous Improvement

QC 1000 is designed to replace the existing standards with an integrated, risk-based approach. This standard mandates quality objectives and key processes, emphasizing accountability and ongoing improvement. By focusing on a structured risk assessment process and ongoing monitoring and remediation, QC 1000 aims to ensure that firms consistently comply with professional and legal requirements. This should lead to more accurate and independent engagement reports.

  • Scalability to Firm Size and Complexity

One of the notable features of QC 1000 is its scalability. The standard can be adapted to firms of varying sizes and complexities, from large global networks to smaller local firms. Larger firms, for example, must have more stringent measures, such as an external oversight function and automated tracking systems for independence, whereas smaller firms can implement these core requirements to fit their scale and resources.

Enhanced Governance and Leadership Requirements

  • Tone at the Top and Firm Culture

QC 1000 places huge emphasis on governance and leadership within firms. This includes setting a “tone at the top” prioritizing quality and accountability. The new standard requires firms to link compensation to quality outcomes and mandates an independent perspective in firm governance for the largest firms. This is expected to foster a culture where quality control is integral to the firm’s operations and decision-making processes.

Expanded Reporting and Monitoring Responsibilities

  • New Reporting Requirements

The introduction of Form QC, a non-public reporting form, is a crucial element of QC 1000. Firms are required to conduct a rigorous annual evaluation of their QC system, with key personnel certifying the results. This annual evaluation must be reported to the PCAOB, underscoring the importance of continuous monitoring and remediation of deficiencies.

Updated Ethical Standards

  • Alignment with QC 1000

Alongside QC 1000, the PCAOB updated its ethical standards by introducing EI 1000, Integrity and Objectivity. This new standard supersedes the existing ET 102 and aligns more closely with the QC 1000 framework. The updated ethical requirements ensure that integrity and objectivity are consistently applied across all engagements, further enhancing the quality and reliability of audit reports.

Key Discussion Points for GRC Professionals

For professionals in governance, risk management, internal audit, and regulatory compliance, the new PCAOB standards present several key discussion points:

 •  Implementation of Risk-Based QC Systems: Firms need to evaluate their current QC processes and make necessary adjustments to comply with the risk-based approach mandated by QC 1000.

 •  Enhanced Governance Structures: The requirement for more robust governance and leadership oversight, including independent perspectives in the largest firms, should be a focal point for GRC professionals.

 •  Continuous Monitoring and Remediation: The emphasis on ongoing monitoring and timely remediation of deficiencies highlights the need for robust internal audit processes and compliance checks.

 •  Ethics and Independence: Adopting the new EI 1000 standard will require firms to reassess their ethical guidelines and ensure all personnel are trained and compliant with the updated requirements.

•  Annual Evaluation and Reporting: GRC professionals should prepare for the new annual evaluation processes and understand 

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Explainer: The PCAOB’s New Quality Control Standard
Here, we break down the key elements of the new standard, QC 1000, and its implications for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) professionals.