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IESBA Strengthens and Clarifies Independence Requirements for Group Audits

Revisions also address independence implications of changes to the definition of an engagement team. Global webinar to review revisions to be held April 18, 2023, 9:00 to 10:00 am EST

Feb 28, 2023 | New York, NY | English

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) today released final revisions to the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards) (the Code) to address holistically the various independence considerations in an audit of group financial statements. The revisions also deal with the independence and other implications of the changes made to the definition of an engagement team in the Code to align with changes to the definition of the same term in the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board’s (IAASB) International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) and International Standards on Quality Management (ISQMs).

“Group audits play a fundamental role in safeguarding the integrity of, and public trust in, the financial markets,” said Ms. Gabriela Figueiredo Dias, IESBA Chair. “For a long time, there was a vacuum in international standards addressing the independence of audit firms and individuals involved in group audits, leading to uncertainty and inconsistent practice around the world. This standard effectively closes that gap and responds in a timely manner to a public interest need for robust and clear requirements for independence in this important area.” 

Among other matters, the revisions:

  • Strengthen and clarify the independence principles that apply to:
    • Individuals involved in a group audit, including those within, or engaged by, firms that audit components within a group.
    • ​​​​​​​Firms engaged in the group audit, including firms within and outside the group auditor firm’s network.
  • ​​​​​​​Specify the need for, and content of, appropriate communication on independence matters between the group auditor firm and component auditor firms participating in the group audit.
  • More explicitly set out the process to address a breach of an independence provision at a component auditor firm, reinforcing the importance of transparency and appropriate communication with those charged with governance of the group.
  • Amend the definitions of the terms “engagement team” and “audit team” in the Code to recognize the different and evolving engagement team structures, and address the implications of those definitional changes.
  • Provide guidance to facilitate the determination of who is included in an engagement team or an audit team.
  • Revise the definitions of a number of existing terms and establish new defined terms with respect to independence in a group audit context.

​​​​​​​The development of the proposals has benefited from close coordination with the IAASB’s group audits and quality management projects.

The pronouncement will be effective for audits of financial statements and group financial statements for periods beginning on or after December 15, 2023, with early adoption permitted.

Global Webinar and Other Implementation Support

The IESBA will hold a global webinar on April 18, 2023 from 9:00 to 10:00 am Eastern Time, during which members of Task Force will explain the key revisions to the Code. Click here to register.

The recording of the webinar and other supporting materials, such as an IESBA Staff publication on Frequently Asked Questions, will be available on the IESBA’s website in due course.