Audit Analytics is an independent research firm that provides customized databases for audit, regulatory, and disclosure applications. Its website (http://www.auditanalytics.com) allows access to data on auditor engagements, audit firm quality, audit opinions, financial restatements, and PCAOB inspection reports, all of which CPAs can use for best practices and business development. Its databases include over 150,000 audited companies and 10,000 CPA firms.
Through its extensive research, Audit Analytics periodically makes research reports available to the general public at prices ranging from $50 to $200. Summaries of the results of Audit Analytics’ research projects are available for free through industry news articles, which are easily accessed through its website. The website also contains a collection of audit-related news, academic research articles, and a blog focused on current events.
An easy way for the general public keep up with audit-related news and short summaries of Audit Analytics’ studies is through the news archive (http://www.auditanalytics.com/0000/news.php). Publication sources include Accounting Today, Compliance Week, CPA Practice Advisor, MarketWatch, the Wall Street Journal, and many others, some of which require separate subscription access.
MarketWatch correspondent Francine McKenna (re: the Auditors blog) cited Audit Analytics in “Almost Half of Auditor Warnings about Potential Failure Are on IPOs” (http://on.mktw.net/1nACESb). The most frequently occurring reasons for auditors to give going concern opinions are net losses since inception or lack of significant revenues. The article provides a data table of 15 NASDAQ companies with auditor warnings, including details on the initial public offering (IPO) price and subsequent market price. Amazingly, in many cases, investors were willing to pay close to the IPO prices even after auditor warnings.
An August 2015 presentation by PCAOB board member Jeanette M. Franzel, “Current Issues, Trends, and Open Questions in Audits of Internal Control over Financial Reporting,” relied on data from Audit Analytics to illustrate her points (e.g., that the percentage of adverse internal control opinions appears to be rising). Franzel also referred to the PCAOB’s own data analysis, which showed that increases in audit fees do not appear to be driven by internal control audits (http://pcaobus.org/News/Speech/Pages/08102015_Franzel.aspx).
The Audit Analytics blog (http://www.auditanalytics.com/blog/) is an excellent free source of information on the organization’s projects, as well as a place to read its expert take on current events. While some of the posts are short and concise, others include lengthy discussions with exhibits and links to other sources. Posts are published frequently, and they are presented as abstracts with drill-downs to the complete article, making it easy for readers to identify topics of specific interest.
For example, “2015 SEC Enforcement Actions Produce Decade High Results” (http://bit.ly/1nqk9z0), posted November 12, 2015, summarizes the SEC’s enforcement actions from 2013 to 2015 and examines specific cases. In fact, 2015 was a record-setting period for the number of actions and assessed penalties. The article includes links to more detail on each case discussed, along with access to the underlying SEC Release 2015-245 and a Bloomberg Business news report on the SEC’s proposed postrestatement clawback for executives to return incentive compensation.
CPAs at local and regional firms may be interested in the September 2015 post, “Audit Firm Membership in Associations, Networks, and Alliances.” While Audit Analytics’ data shows that the Big Four dominate the public company market share, the four largest ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) benefit auditors are smaller firm alliances. The article also discusses academic research which indicates that smaller firms benefit from joining alliances through being able to win larger audit engagements and reducing the likelihood of restatements and PCAOB inspection deficiencies (http://bit.ly/1TDALzR).
Audit Analytics also provides links to academic research publications that make use of its data at http://www.auditanalytics.com/0000/papers.php. Although reading through academic articles is probably not high on most readers’ to-do lists, some of them are actually targeted to practitioners. For example, “Current Issues in Auditing” provides practitioner summaries with practical applications. A July 2015 article (“Are Lengthy Audit Report Lags a Warning Signal?” by Alan I. Blankley, David N. Hurtt, and Jason E. MacGregor, http://bit.ly/1nqkMsl) uses Audit Analytics’ data to confirm that the longer an audit takes beyond a normal time frame, the more likely it will be that the company will eventually have to restate its financial statements. The authors suggest that while greater effort spent on the audit is normally associated with a higher quality audit, there is a point of diminishing returns. They also provide guidance for CPA firms in using their own internal audit engagement data to develop prediction models specific to their client experiences.
ATTESTATION UPDATE BLOG
Attestation Update—A&A for CPAs (http://attestationupdate.com) is one of the blogs maintained by California CPA James Ulvog, and is billed as “technical stuff for CPAs providing attestation services.” His practice focuses on providing attestation and peer review services, and his blog focuses on news, events, and tools in accounting and auditing areas, especially for small firms.
A topic of several recent posts has been SSARS 21, Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services: Clarification and Recodification. The blog offers sample compilation report wording, sample review report language, and a link to purchase a primer on compilation and preparation engagements. There is also a collection of posts on SSARS 19, Compilation and Review Engagements, documentation requirements, and the blogger’s advice for addressing the CPA’s obligations (http://attestationupdate.com/ssars-19-documentation-requirements/).
RE: THE AUDITORS
Blogger Francine McKenna transitioned to a full-time position as a reporter with MarketWatch in 2015 and pours much of her energy into covering financial regulation and legislation for that online news source. But she still maintains her long-standing re: The Auditors blog at http://retheauditors.com, which serves as an outlet for more focused commentary on the auditing community. For example, recent posts covered the speculation over whether PCAOB James R. Doty would be reappointed (http://bit.ly/1Stj8nB), recounted recent SEC sanctions against Grant Thornton (http://bit.ly/1StjfiY), and discussed loopholes in the enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act clawback rule (http://bit.ly/1Stj9YD).