AU-C Section 260: The Auditor's Communication With Those Charged With Governance

 

This section addresses the auditor’s responsibility to communicate with those charged with governance in an audit of financial statements.

 
 
 
 
 
AU-C Section 260.01-06: The Auditor's Communication with Those Charged with Governance
 
 

"Scope of This Section

.01 This section addresses the auditor's responsibility to communicate with those charged with governance in an audit of financial statements. Although this section applies regardless of an entity's governance structure or size, particular considerations apply when all of those charged with governance are involved in managing an entity. This section does not establish requirements regarding the auditor's communication with an entity's management or owners unless they are also charged with a governance role.

.02 This section is written in the context of an audit of financial statements but may also be applied, adapted as necessary in the circumstances, to audits of other historical financial information when those charged with governance have a responsibility to oversee the preparation and fair presentation of the other historical financial information.

.03 Recognizing the importance of effective two-way communication in an audit of financial statements, this section provides an overarching framework for the auditor's communication with those charged with governance and identifies some specific matters to be communicated. Additional matters to be communicated are identified in other AU-C sections (see the exhibit, "Requirements to Communicate With Those Charged With Governance in Other AU-C Sections"). In addition, section 265, Communicating Internal Control Related Matters Identified in an Audit, establishes specific requirements regarding the communication of significant deficiencies and material weaknesses in internal control the auditor has identified during the audit to those charged with governance. Further matters not required by generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) may be required to be communicated by agreement with those charged with governance or management or in accordance with external requirements. Nothing in this section precludes the auditor from communicating any other matters to those charged with governance.

Effective Date

.04 This section is effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2012.

Objectives

.05 The objectives of the auditor are to

a. communicate clearly with those charged with governance the responsibilities of the auditor regarding the financial statement audit and an overview of the planned scope and timing of the audit.

b. obtain from those charged with governance information relevant to the audit.

c. provide those charged with governance with timely observations arising from the audit that are significant and relevant to their responsibility to oversee the financial reporting process.

d. promote effective two-way communication between the auditor and those charged with governance. (Ref: par. .A1–.A5)"

 
 
 
 
AU-C Section 260.07-09: Who Are Those Charged with Governance
 
 

".07 The auditor should determine the appropriate person(s) within the entity's governance structure with whom to communicate. (Ref: par. .A6–.A9)

Communication With the Audit Committee or Other Subgroup of Those Charged With Governance

.08 If the auditor communicates with a subgroup of those charged with governance, such as the audit committee or an individual, the auditor should determine whether the auditor also needs to communicate with the governing body. (Ref: par. .A10–.A12)

When All of Those Charged With Governance Are Involved in Managing the Entity

.09 In some cases, all of those charged with governance are involved in managing the entity; for example, a small business in which a single owner manages the entity and no one else has a governance role. In these cases, if matters required by this section are communicated with a person(s) with management responsibilities and that person(s) also has governance responsibilities, the matters need not be communicated again with the same person(s) in that person's governance role. These matters are noted in paragraph .14. The auditor should, nonetheless, be satisfied that communication with person(s) with management responsibilities adequately informs all of those with whom the auditor would otherwise communicate in their governance capacity."

 
 
 
 
AU-C Section 260.10-14: Matters to be Communicated to Those Charged with Governance
 
 

"The Auditor’s Responsibilities With Regard to the Financial Statement Audit

.10 The auditor should communicate with those charged with governance the auditor's responsibilities with regard to the financial statement audit, including that (Ref: par. .A13–.A17)

a. the auditor is responsible for forming and expressing an opinion about whether the financial statements that have been prepared by management, with the oversight of those charged with governance, are prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework.

b. the audit of the financial statements does not relieve management or those charged with governance of their responsibilities.

Planned Scope and Timing of the Audit

.11 The auditor should communicate with those charged with governance an overview of the planned scope and timing of the audit. (Ref: par. .A18–.A22)

Significant Findings or Issues From the Audit

.12 The auditor should communicate with those charged with governance (Ref: par. .A23)

a. the auditor's views about qualitative aspects of the entity's significant accounting practices, including accounting policies, accounting estimates, and financial statement disclosures. When applicable, the auditor should (Ref: par. .A24–.A25)

i. explain to those charged with governance why the auditor considers a significant accounting practice that is acceptable under the applicable financial reporting framework not to be most appropriate to the particular circumstances of the entity and

ii. determine that those charged with governance are informed about the process used by management in formulating particularly sensitive accounting estimates, including fair value estimates, and about the basis for the auditor's conclusions regarding the reasonableness of those estimates.

b. significant difficulties, if any, encountered during the audit. (Ref: par. .A26)

c. disagreements with management, if any. (Ref: par. .A28)

d. other findings or issues, if any, arising from the audit that are, in the auditor's professional judgment, significant and relevant to those charged with governance regarding their responsibility to oversee the financial reporting process. (Ref: par. .A27)

Uncorrected Misstatements

.13 The auditor should communicate with those charged with governance (Ref: par. .A29–.A30)

a. uncorrected misstatements accumulated by the auditor and the effect that they, individually or in the aggregate, may have on the opinion in the auditor's report. The auditor's communication should identify material uncorrected misstatements individually. The auditor should request that uncorrected misstatements be corrected.

b. the effect of uncorrected misstatements related to prior periods on the relevant classes of transactions, account balances or disclosures, and the financial statements as a whole.

When Not All of Those Charged With Governance Are Involved in Management

.14 Unless all of those charged with governance are involved in managing the entity, the auditor also should communicate

a. material, corrected misstatements that were brought to the attention of management as a result of audit procedures. (Ref: par. .A31)

b. significant findings or issues, if any, arising from the audit that were discussed, or the subject of correspondence, with management. (Ref: par. .A32)

c. the auditor's views about significant matters that were the subject of management's consultations with other accountants on accounting or auditing matters when the auditor is aware that such consultation has occurred.

d. written representations the auditor is requesting. (Ref: par. .A33)"

 
 
 
 
AU-C Section 260.15-19: The Communication Process
 
 

"Establishing the Communication Process

.15 The auditor should communicate with those charged with governance the form, timing, and expected general content of communications. (Ref: par. .A34–.A38)

Forms of Communication

.16 The auditor should communicate in writing with those charged with governance significant findings or issues from the audit (see paragraphs .12– .14) if, in the auditor's professional judgment, oral communication would not be adequate. This communication need not include matters that arose during the course of the audit that were communicated with those charged with governance and satisfactorily resolved. (Ref: par. .A39–.A41)

Restricted Use

.17 When the auditor communicates matters in accordance with this section in writing, the communication is considered a by-product report. Accordingly, the auditor should indicate in the communication that it is intended solely for the information and use of those charged with governance and, if appropriate, management, and is not intended to be, and should not be, used by anyone other than these specified parties.

Timing of Communications

.18 The auditor should communicate with those charged with governance on a timely basis. (Ref: par. .A42–.A43)

Adequacy of the Communication Process

.19 The auditor should evaluate whether the two-way communication between the auditor and those charged with governance has been adequate for the purpose of the audit. If it has not, the auditor should evaluate the effect, if any, on the auditor's assessment of the risks of material misstatement and ability to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence and should take appropriate action. (Ref: par. .A44–.A46)"

 
 
 
 
AU-C Section 260.20: Documentation of Communications with Those Charged With Governance
 
 

".20 When matters required to be communicated by this section have been communicated orally, the auditor should include them in the audit documentation, including when and to whom they were communicated. When matters have been communicated in writing, the auditor should retain a copy of the communication as part of the audit documentation. (Ref: par. .A47)"