IRBA Newsletter Issue 53

Issue 53 | January-March 2021 3 ACTING CEO’S PERSPECTIVE cont. The Bill, which the Select Committee of Finance (SECOF) considered during February and March, was approved by this committee and all major parties on 16 March. The recommendation from SECOF was to adopt the Bill as is, with no further amendments. The Bill is now awaiting the President’s signature; and we are hopeful that it will be promulgated shortly. While there was significant pressure to include MAFR into this Bill, it was agreed that National Treasury would be given 24 months to bring another Bill that will include the MAFR rule. This may also create an opportunity for us to address other key changes, such as removing confidentiality restrictions from sharing inspections reports publicly and other important amendments. We also recently released updated statistics with regard to audit firm rotation at JSE-listed entities – although the MAFR rule applies to all public interest entities (PIEs) and not only listed PIEs. With just two years remaining until the effective date of MAFR (1 April 2023), 43% of the JSE Ltd main board listed companies have already voluntarily rotated auditors, since we started tracking audit firm rotations in January 2017. This is up from 21%, as reported in October 2019. Of the total number of rotations that have taken place since 2017, 40% of the companies cite compliance to MAFR as the reason for appointing new auditors. What is particularly notable is that we have seen three companies appointing a big four firm together with a black-owned next-tier firm in a joint audit arrangement. Along with transferring skills, this will help to expose these smaller audit firms to large listed audits. We will continue to encourage this access to market, to address our transformation imperatives. Previously voiced concerns that the big four will likely only rotate among each other have been disproved, as a number of next- tier firms have also benefited from rotations. Audit firms such as BDO, Crowe JHB and Thawt Inc, Mazars, Moore Stephens, Nexia SAB&T, Ngubane and Co, RSM, SNG-GT and PKF have picked up new audit clients after rotations. As part of its restoring confidence initiatives, the IRBA embarked on a project to create a set of quantitative measures, based on audit firm operations and the execution of independent external audit. These measures can be used to rate the firm’s audit quality, with the resultant information being reported to us, as the regulator. In fact, the IRBA was among the first audit regulators worldwide to agree and launch mandatory AQIs. During this quarter, we launched our second AQIs Report, putting critical actionable information in the hands of those charged with governance, firms and other stakeholders. The report continues to break ground by placing the IRBA at the forefront of driving initiatives that are aimed at promoting improved audit quality and accountability. Subsequently, a number of other jurisdictions have shown a keen interest in the project and are embarking on similar projects. In addition, the report provides feedback as well as insights that are relevant to audit committee discussions and decisions on the appointment, performance, independence and reappointment of the auditor. In the period under review, we also released our 2020 Public Inspections Report, which can be downloaded from the IRBA website . The inspections outcomes show a significant improvement at some of the audit firms, where considerable investments were made into real-time quality management, underpinned by leadership’s sound attitude (tone) and hands-on (visible) approach. However, during the period the inspection outcomes have again indicated inconsistencies and significant deficiencies within the majority of audit firms and assurance engagements inspected (risk- based selections) in relation to audit quality management and audit quality. These trends are below par, when compared internationally and according to the IFIAR’s Inspections Survey Report. As we embark on a new financial year, with a refocused strategy, we have launched a robust Restoring Confidence 2.0 initiative. We will also be sharing some of the key areas where our five-year strategy has changed; and interactions will begin with stakeholder engagements around these changes in due course. We look forward to these discussions. Imre Nagy Acting Chief Executive Officer