The International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR) was established on 15 September 2006 by independent audit regulators from 18 jurisdictions. Since its creation, IFIAR’s membership has grown in light of the establishment of new independent audit regulators in different jurisdictions around the globe, bringing together independent audit regulators from a total of 52 jurisdictions. IFIAR focuses on the following activities:
1. Sharing knowledge of the audit market environment and practical experience of independent audit regulatory activity with a focus on inspections of auditors and audit firms,
2. Promoting collaboration and consistency in regulatory activity, and
3. Providing a platform for dialogue with other international organizations that have an interest in audit quality.
Since its creation, IFIAR has convened on a semi-annual basis for high-level plenary meetings and on an annual basis at an Inspection Workshop to exchange information and experiences relating to inspections of audit firms. IFIAR moved to annual plenary meetings in 2013. IFIAR has established a number of Working Groups that address various work streams important to audit regulators and form the core of IFIAR’s activities alongside its plenary meetings and workshop.
IFIAR became a Member of the Monitoring Group during 2011; the Group oversees audit and accounting related standard setting activities of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), monitors the activities of the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB), and convenes to discuss issues and share views relating to international audit quality and regulatory and market developments having an impact on auditing.
CURRENT OFFICE BEARERS
IFIAR is currently chaired by Janine van Diggelen, Head International Auditing & Accounting, Policies and Standard Setting at the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). IFIAR's Vice Chair is Brian Hunt, CEO of the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB). The Chair and Vice-Chair have two-year terms which expire in April 2017 when new Officers will be elected.
Chair - Janine van Diggelen
"As IFIAR’s Chair since April 2015, I consider it an honor to further IFIAR as the international leading organization on auditing matters and to cooperate closely with IFIAR’s Members and stakeholders in our shared commitment to improve audit quality globally. As audits of so called public interest entities are more and more complex and cross border in nature and the largest Big 6 audit networks operate globally with the ultimate tone at the top coming from their global leadership, audit regulators need to work closely together in exchanging information on the audit market and on audit oversight experiences, in interacting with stakeholders and in formulating views and positions on audit quality matters in order to enhance audit quality globally.
IFIAR works on its mission of improvement of audit quality globally through three main work streams:
- Engagement with the six largest global audit network firms
- Engagement with international standard setters
- Engagement with investor and audit committee representatives.
These main work streams are supported by IFIAR’s annual Inspection Findings Survey Report
. Let me explain these main work streams in further detail.
As IFIAR we regularly interact with the global leadership of the six largest global audit network firms to discuss issues relating to our audit inspection outcomes and how these relate to their internal monitoring outcome, root cause analysis and action plans to improve audit quality globally. Besides we meet with the individual global CEOs of the Big 6 firms to discuss the challenges they are facing in driving consistency in audit quality throughout their networks and to discuss current trends in the audit sector like developments in technology with the increased use of data analytics and the challenges this poses to talent and the potential impact of the business model on audit quality.
Furthermore, we regularly engage with the international Audit and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) and with the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) on how standards can better contribute to high quality audits. Standards play an important role in driving consistency in auditor behavior and as such can contribute to improvement of audit quality globally.
Lastly, as IFIAR we interact with investors and other stakeholders such as audit committees who can contribute to enhancing audit quality globally. We have recently established a global Advisory Group of investors and stakeholders to bring more continuity and depth in our ongoing dialogue with investors, audit committees and other key stakeholders that share IFIAR’s mission.
Furthermore, we cooperate with other international organizations like the FSB and IOSCO who have a keen interest in audit in view of their crucial role in the confidence in and functioning of the capital markets and financial stability.
An important source of information for our main work streams is IFIAR’s annual Inspection Findings Survey Report. The latest report was published in March 2016
. The report shows persistently high levels of inspection findings reported by IFIAR members into the Survey in key areas of the audit. Compared to last year, there was a slight improvement in the reported percentage of deficient audits, from 47% to 43%. Despite the slight improvement, audit regulators are still concerned about audit quality globally as the pace of improvement is too slow and it is still early days to tell whether the improvement is sustainable or not. As such IFIAR has agreed with the Big 6 firms a measurable target of at least 25% reduction in the percentage of deficient audits by 2019 as a first step to considerable improvement of audit quality going forward.
Apart from these main work streams, we are also working on three important internal work streams:
- Implementation of a new governance structure for IFIAR
- Establishing a Permanent Secretariat for IFIAR
- Assessing applicants to IFIAR’s Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMoU)
As IFIAR we have reached agreement on the implementation of a new Board structure and the establishment of a Permanent Secretariat in Tokyo, Japan for IFIAR. We aim at having a start with our Permanent Secretariat in April 2017 and at the new IFIAR Board becoming operational at the closing of that meeting. These changes mark a significant milestone in the evolution of IFIAR. Effective governance, combined with a professional, dedicated secretariat that provides organizational continuity, will enhance our ability to deal effectively and efficiently with global issues on audit quality and investor protection. I like to thank Japan for their offer to host our Permanent Secretariat in Tokyo. Tokyo is an excellent location for establishing our Permanent Secretariat as the Japanese capital market is the third largest worldwide, Tokyo as a city has a solid infrastructure and sophisticated business environment with a relatively large financial and audit sector and it provides political and economic stability. Moreover, Tokyo can serve as a perfect gateway to many non-IFIAR member jurisdictions in the Asia / Pacific, Middle-East and African region.
IFIAR will start recruiting for an Executive Director and other staff positions for its Permanent Secretariat in Tokyo in the second half of 2016 and onwards. Those interested can send in their expression of interest, together with a brief summary of relevant experience, to Brian Hunt, IFIAR’s Vice Chair and Chair of IFIAR’s Selection Committee at email@example.com.
Finally, as IFIAR we have recently established a MMoU for the exchange of confidential information in relation to registrations, inspections, investigations and enforcement amongst our members which will make cooperation between audit regulators more effective and efficient worldwide.
Given the achievements to date, I am confident that we as IFIAR, in close cooperation with our members and external stakeholders, will be able to achieve our ambitious work plan for the coming year up to our next plenary meeting in April 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. I am looking forward to our continued and fruitful cooperation and like to thank Brian Hunt, Vice-Chair of IFIAR for his support to me in leading IFIAR into its next phase of evolution. Together we aspire to further IFIAR to better meet the expectations and face the challenges as the international leading organization on audit matters."
Ms. Janine van Diggelen is Head International Auditing & Accounting, Policies & Standard Setting at the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). Since 2004 she has been responsible for inspections, investigations, enforcement and registration of audit firms and external auditors who perform statutory audits in the Netherlands. In 2014 Ms. Van Diggelen became also responsible for supervision of financial reporting by listed companies. In April 2015 Ms. Van Diggelen was elected Chair of IFIAR after her two years term of being Vice-Chair of IFIAR ended. Prior to joining the AFM in 2004, Ms. Van Diggelen had been employed by Ernst & Young for seventeen years. For the last 8 years she worked in the corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions area with Ernst & Young Transaction Advisory Services BV. Before then, she worked in the international audit practice of Ernst & Young LLP in Dallas, Texas and in the national and international audit practices of Ernst & Young in Curacao and in the Netherlands. Ms. Van Diggelen received her master’s degree in Information Management at Nyenrode Business University, the Netherlands. She is a registered accountant (RA) in the Netherlands and a certified public accountant (CPA) in Texas, USA.
Vice Chair - Brian Hunt
Brian Hunt, CEO of the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB), is the Vice Chair of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR). “Investors and global financial markets rely on auditors to assure the integrity of financial statements. Given that audit is increasingly global, it’s important that audit regulators around the world continuously exchange information about the overall audit market environment to serve the public interest and enhance investor protection.”
Hunt says IFIAR has made considerable progress over the past year and in his final year of his two year term as vice chair IFIAR will examine how changes in the economic environment and the market for audit services have impacted or may in the future impact the audit industry and audit quality. Hunt’s focus continues to include governance, working with the big firms on audit quality, reaching out to audit committees, standard setting, and establishing a permanent secretariat for IFIAR.
“We are on the edge of a transformation – of both the way business is conducted and audits are performed. Changes in the way audits are planned, performed, staffed and communicated and how audit firms are structured to compete have the potential to alter the quality of the work that is performed. These will be key items for IFIAR members in the next few years.”
A founding Director of the Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB), Brian Hunt was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on January 29, 2009. In April 2015 he was elected Vice Chair of IFIAR. Prior to that Mr. Hunt was Chair of IFIAR’s Global Public Policy Committee (GPPC) Working Group. Prior to his current position at CPAB, Mr. Hunt was President and CEO of CPA Ontario. Before joining CPA Ontario, Mr. Hunt was President of Canada’s largest membership organization, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), representing CAA as a director and/or officer of the International Touring Alliance, the American Automobile Association Traffic Safety Foundation and the Transportation Association of Canada. Mr. Hunt’s earlier positions include President of Hayward Industrial Products Inc., President of PHH Canada, and Vice-President of Sales and Client Services of PHH’s US operation. In 2000, Mr. Hunt was elected a Fellow of CPA Ontario, served as a member of the CPA Ontario’s 2000/01 Governing Council, and was awarded Life Membership in 2009. Mr. Hunt holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and is a CPA Chartered Accountant. He is also a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, completing his ICD.D in 2012. Mr. Hunt is a member of Ryerson University’s School of Accounting and Finance Advisory Council. A frequent guest on public affairs television and radio programs, Mr. Hunt has presented at the Economic Club of Canada and other public forums, and has authored a weekly column in one of Canada’s major business newspapers.
Treasurer of the IFIAR Verein - Frank Schneider
Frank Schneider is a Swiss Certified Public Accountant and holds an Executive MBA of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Since 2007 Frank has been the first CEO of the Federal Audit Oversight Authority (FAOA) of Switzerland. During the years 2002-2006 Frank was the head of the accounting enforcement division of the Swiss Exchange Regulation. Between 1991-2001 he held various positions with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Zurich and New York. Mr Schneider was a member of the Swiss GAAP FER accounting standards setting body from 2003-2006.
PREVIOUS OFFICE BEARERS
The Chair until April 2011 was Steven Maijoor, Managing Director at the Netherlands Authority for Financial Markets. After April 2011, Paul George, Director of Audit at the UK’s Financial Reporting Council, was elected IFIAR Chair. He was succeeded by Lew Ferguson in April 2013.
The Chair and Vice-Chair are assisted and advised by an Advisory Council in pursuing their responsibilities as set out in the Charter. The current Advisory Council Members are Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.