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Global Ethics Board proposes significant revisions to international independence standards

  • IESBA (International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants) (lt gray) Image

Jan 21, 2020

On January 21, 2020, the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) released two Exposure Drafts (EDs): "Proposed Revisions to the Non-Assurance Services Provisions of the Code" and "Proposed Revisions to the Fee-Related Provisions of the Code".

The EDs are aimed at strengthening the non-assurance services (NAS) and the fee-related independence provisions of the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards) (the Code). The EDs represent a key milestone in two major strategic commitments of the IESBA in its current strategy and workplan.

Among the key changes proposed to the NAS provisions are:

  • A prohibition on providing NAS to an audit client that is a public interest entity (PIE) if a self-review threat to independence will be created;
  • Further tightening of the circumstances in which materiality may be considered in determining the permissibility of a NAS;
  • Strengthened provisions regarding auditor communication with those charged with governance (TCWG), including, for PIEs, a requirement for NAS pre-approval by TCWG; and
  • Stricter requirements regarding the provision of some NAS, including certain tax and corporate finance advice.

The NAS ED also includes enhanced guidance to assist firms in evaluating the level of threats to independence when providing NAS to audit clients. 

Among the key proposed changes to the fee-related provisions are:

  •  A prohibition on firms allowing the audit fee to be influenced by the provision of services other than audit to the audit client;
  • In the case of PIEs, a requirement to cease to act as auditor if fee dependency on the audit client continues beyond a specified period; and
  • Communication of fee-related information to TCWG and to the public to assist their judgments about auditor independence.

The Fees ED also includes enhanced guidance on identifying, evaluating and addressing threats to independence in relation to other fee-related matters, including the proportion of fees for services other than audit to the audit fee.

Review the press release and exposure drafts on the IESBA's website.

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