New Report Updates on CPA Profession's Progress in Enhancing Audit Quality

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has issued a report detailing the past year's activities and accomplishments as part of its Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) initiative.

According to a media release, the publication outlines the CPA profession's work to enhance the quality of private company audits in the areas of Pre-licensure, Standards and Ethics, CPA Learning and Support, Peer Review, Practice Monitoring of the Future, and Enforcement.

Audit quality has been a focus in the United States, and abroad, for several years. An increasingly complex business environment in a state of constant change has added to the challenges practitioners are experiencing. Given this new reality, the AICPA began a bold effort, the EAQ initiative, in 2014. The report, AICPA Enhancing Audit Quality Initiative, Highlights and Progress 2016, highlights the effort's progress since the AICPA issued the 6-Point Plan to Improve Audits in 2015.

In a letter prefacing the report, Susan C. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, AICPA executive vice president for public practice, stated, "Looking at the progress we've made, I am especially excited about what the profession can accomplish with newly-implemented initiatives. For example, new quality-control tools, resources and training help firms establish and maintain effective quality-control systems. Enhancements to the Peer Review Program better identify practice issues and require more targeted and timely remediation. And new industry-specific training programs focus on competency development - that is, applying knowledge and skills - and related certificate programs help highly competent auditors distinguish themselves in the marketplace."

Key accomplishments in the last year include:

Pre-licensure - To encourage students to pursue CPA licensure, continuous engagement occurs across the pipeline. The AICPA recognizes that expanding the Uniform CPA Examination provides another opportunity to enhance audit quality in the pre-licensure phase. The next version of the CPA Exam, launching in April 2017, will increase the focus on higher-order skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical ability.

Standards and Ethics - The Auditing Standards Board continues to monitor the implementation of the Clarified Statements on Auditing Standards and is working to improve the communicative value and relevance of the auditor's report through proposed revisions to generally accepted auditing standards. The new Assurance Research Advisory Group was formed to drive practice-oriented assurance research to inform the standard-setting process.

CPA Learning and Support - The AICPA | CIMA Competency and Learning Website provides a means for auditors to assess and improve their knowledge and competencies in various subject matter areas, including employee benefit plans audits (EBP), governmental audits, information technology assurance, not-for-profit, financial accounting and reporting, and other assurance. Competency-based learning programs specific to EBP and single audit engagements include intermediate and advanced offerings that allow proficient practitioners to distinguish themselves in the marketplace through a certificate provided as a digital badge.

Peer Review - The AICPA has instituted reforms directed at enhancing the accountability of enrolled firms and their peer reviewers. The Enhanced Oversight Program, piloted in 2014 and expanded in 2015-16, has identified where peer reviews could be strengthened, particularly regarding issue detection and remediation. In 2016, the number of engagements subject to Enhanced Oversight will double, and a root-cause analysis process will be added.

Practice Monitoring of the Future - Response to the purposely provocative concept paper on transforming peer review into a near real-time practice monitoring process was robust, with more than 70 responses. Those responses, together with the pilot of a self-monitoring tool for firms' internal use, will help inform next steps for the initiative.

Enforcement - The AICPA Professional Ethics Division is collaborating with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on an initiative that allows the AICPA Ethics Team and DOL to share investigative files with state boards of accountancy. Additionally, the Ethics Division is mining publicly available databases to identify potential issues for outreach to firms.

"As the AICPA continues and expands its efforts to increase audit quality over the next several years, the Enhanced Audit Quality initiative is expected to have an even greater impact on quality within the profession," the report concludes. "Enhancing Audit Quality and the 6-Point Plan to Improve Audits are long-term initiatives involving thousands of firms and audit professionals, dozens of regulatory bodies and standard-setting organizations at the state and federal levels."

"While we've achieved a great deal in this first year, there is still much more to do," Coffey stated. "Ultimately, audit quality results from a profession-wide dedication to continuous improvement and evolution. The profession has taken significant steps to keep pace with the expectations and demands to protect the public."

The American Institute of CPAs is a member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 418,000 members in 143 countries, and a history of serving the public interest.

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  • Alexandra Scarborough
    Gilt and Sarah Jessica Parker Unveil SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal Collection for Spring

    Sarah Jessica Parker, in partnership with Gilt, kicked off the exclusive launch of SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal, Gilt’s first foray into bridal ready-to-wear that would have Carrie Bradshaw swooning.

    The collection includes dresses, skirts, bodysuits and other pieces, ranging in price from $295 to $2,395 and from sizes 0 to 14.

    "Collaborating with Gilt on my first bridal ready-to-wear collection was an opportunity I couldn't pass up," said Sarah Jessica Parker. "The team there is brilliant and allowed me to be imaginative and take risks as I was designing for the non-traditional bride. It has been quite fun to play around with colors, fabrics and details to create unique pieces for all kinds of brides." The collection, comprised of ten styles, is inspired by Parker's vision of a modern, non-traditional bride, and is designed to dress a woman for a variety of wedding milestone moments; from her bridal shower through her wedding reception. Styles offered are a unique mix of classic dresses and gowns, modern bodysuits, full skirts, and a jumpsuit. The color palette includes traditional bridal white, sleek black, plus pops of blush, poppy, light gray and blue.

    Designed in collaboration with Gilt, the collection was produced in New York City utilizing fabrics like cashmere and stretch crepe sourced from Spain, Italy and France.

    The pieces all feature carefully curated details like elegant bows, sophisticated cutouts, feathers, intricate embroidery and beautiful hand-stitched beading. 

    The actress and style icon is no stranger to chic bridal wear. Carrie Badshaw, famously played by Parker, took part in an elaborate bridal photo shoot in Sex and the City: The Movie. The shoot featured gowns from designers like Christian Lacroix and Lanvin. Parker famously wore a black wedding gown for her own wedding to Matthew Broderick in 1997.

    "Not only is Sarah Jessica Parker's style known around the world, her point of view is one-of-a-kind," says Tom Ott, Chief Merchant of Gilt. "Sarah Jessica brings her impeccable taste and fashion sensibility to life in this collection. We think our customers will be delighted with the offering which is stylish and well-priced in the bridal category."

    As part of the bridal launch, Gilt will also offer 15 exclusive styles from the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear line, each of which are complementary to the bridal collection. 

    To correspond with the bridal collection launch, Gilt City will present offers from some of Sarah Jessica Parker's favorite places in New York City.

    The offers were each chosen as a way to help brides plan for and celebrate the big day with highlights including, Leather Spa, Lars Nord Studio Tailoring, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, among others.

    More Information:

  • Alexandra Scarborough
    Tea Forté Introduces ‘Matcha’ Collection

    Convenience meets tradition in Tea Forté’s new Ceremonial Matcha Bowl Set and the Matcha Single Steeps.

    The company said its spring harvested, shade grown, stone ground, organic matcha tea is best served in a centuries-old Japanese tea ceremony called chanoyu: a preparation technique known for its centering meditative qualities.

    "The launch of Tea Forté's Matcha collection represents our continued commitment to wellness and cultivating all the potential mental and physical health benefits of tea," says Tea Forté CEO Michael Gebrael. "In addition to our high quality Pure Matcha, we've also blended four distinct flavored Matcha varieties. Prepackaged in pouches measured out for a single serving, our Single Steeps Matcha is ideal for the office, travel, or to keep with you for a boost anytime."

    Tea Forté noted its handcrafted ceremonial tea bowl, handmade bamboo whisk and measuring ladle “encourages serene enjoyment of our premium Kosher, gluten-free and vegan matcha blends.” These include: Pure Matcha, Chocolate Matcha, Coconut Matcha, Ginger Matcha, and Chai Matcha.

    According to a release, in addition to its distinctive taste, matcha is prized for its health benefits. Steeped green tea contains only the antioxidants that can be extracted in water, while with matcha, the whole leaf is consumed.

    Available now in select stores and online at



QUICK 5 has released a year-end look at U.S. traveler behavior and trends for 2017, analyzing data to identify the most in-demand destinations, hotels, activities and more.

Among other insights, the roundup revealed:

  1. Labor Day was the busiest weekend for car rental
  2. Disney Theme Parks topped the list of things to do
  3. The average hotel stay was two nights
  4. Top destinations based on 2017 air travel included major global cities like New York, London and Bangkok
  5. Popular tourist destinations included Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas