Changes in the business marketplace are creating new opportunities for the accounting profession that will add to the already robust list of offerings that CPAs can provide to their clients.
At a recent meeting of the Assurance Services Executive Committee (ASEC) of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) emerging trends in the accounting profession were discussed to facilitate new opportunities for practitioners to provide value-added services to clients.
In addition to discussing ideas for potential future projects, the committee also spoke about the projects they have currently underway. These include five emerging service opportunities:
- Assuring sustainability information. Interest in sustainability has been on the rise around the world. In the United States, sustainability reporting by S&P 500 companies has increased from just 20% of the companies reporting in 2011 to more than 80% today. This provides an opportunity for CPAs to provide trusted third-party assurance on a client’s sustainability information, ranging from a sustainability report taken as a whole or a Greenhouse Gas Statement, to select environmental or social indicators that are most significant to the organization. The AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board Sustainability Task Force, together with the ASEC Sustainability Assurance and Advisory Task Force, is in the final stages of producing a guide that will assist practitioners when performing attestation engagements on sustainability information. The guide is expected to be released early this summer.
- Performing innovative data analytical procedures. Understanding how new and emerging technologies can be used throughout the audit process is an important step in advancing the profession. A joint ASEC and Auditing Standards Board Audit Data Analytics Task Force is currently developing a new guide that will cover the use of audit data analytics at a foundational level, and will describe how these techniques can be integrated into the audit process to improve effectiveness and bring additional insights.
- Providing attestation on cybersecurity. Security breaches are prevalent in today’s business environment, and as a result companies are developing cybersecurity risk management programs to help mitigate threats. The ASEC Cybersecurity Working Group is in the final stages of developing guidance for auditors on how to provide a new engagement to clients that will assess and report on the effectiveness of an entity’s cybersecurity risk management program. This new service will enable CPAs to instill confidence in their client’s efforts to address cybersecurity risks.
- Advising on cybersecurity readiness. Not all clients are ready for an examination-level attestation engagement on their entity-wide cybersecurity risk management program. Practitioners can use the cybersecurity risk management reporting framework as a tool to assist them in providing cybersecurity advisory services to their clients, including cybersecurity readiness engagements.
- Reporting on supply chain controls. In the near future, CPAs will be able to provide a new service to their clients who conduct business with manufacturers and distributors. A new ASEC working group will be developing guidance on the performance of attestation engagements on controls to build trust and confidence in a company’s supply chain. This will be a valuable complement to the other system and organization control (SOC) services that CPAs can offer.