The objectives of the workshop were to:
- assist recently appointed members of the public oversight bodies in understanding the key elements of their roles and responsibilities, both as individuals and collectively;
- explore key issues that need to be addressed at an early stage in an oversight body’s existence and discuss the implications of how those issues are resolved;
- provide an overview of the process of developing International Standards on Auditing and the relationship between auditing standards and audit quality, as well as the opportunities for an oversight body to promote audit quality.
The workshop was attended by members of the national agencies involved in providing oversight of statutory auditors and audit firms in each of Estonia and Latvia, as well as by staff from the two countries’ finance ministries.
To set the context for the workshop, John Carchrae of the CFRR summaried for the participants the principal objectives of the Statutory Audit Directive. This was followed by presentations from representatives of each of the Estonian and Latvian public oversight systems. These presentations summarized the key features of the Estonian and Latvian public oversight systems and highlighted some of the similarities and significant differences in how they have implemented oversight arrangements in the two countries within the framework of the requirements of the Statutory Audit Directive.
Subsequent sessions dealt with specific aspects of the implementation of effective oversight arrangements. Jon Hooper from the UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) joined the workshop by video hook-up from London to discuss how the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR, the body grouping together national audit oversight bodies) could help new national oversight bodies to develop their systems of oversight and quality assurance, while Tim Volkmann (secretary-general of the German Auditor Oversight Commission - AOC) discussed the role of governing bodies and their members in public oversight systems.
John Carchrae then presented an overview of the findings of a comparative survey conducted by the CFRR of how different European countries had approached the task of implementing public oversight, the challenges they had faced and the solutions they had adopted.
On the second day of the workshop, Jon Grant, a member of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), gave an overview of the evolution of International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) and their role in relation to improving the quality of audits. He also discussed how public oversight bodies can contribute to improving audit quality. The final formal presentation of the workshop dealt with the role of public oversight in relation to the system of external quality assurance, with Tim Volkmann from the AOC presenting the German experience.
Throughout the workshop, the participants engaged in an active dialogue with the presenters and with each other which ensured a focus on the key issues facing Estonia and Latvia in developing an effective system of public oversight of auditing. The workshop provided a basis for participants in the public oversight systems to strengthen their engagement with professional bodies in their countries that conduct quality assurance inspections. It also identified potential areas for further exploration in future events to be organized under the FRTAP.