ASEAN audit regulators reaffirm commitment  to raise audit quality amid new challenges

The ASEAN Audit Regulators Group (AARG) has reaffirmed its commitment to raising the bar for audit quality amid the challenges faced by the region today, as it convened in a virtual plenary meeting hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Philippines for the first time since joining the group in 2019.

The virtual plenary meeting held on July 25, 2022, gathered more than 200 participants, composed of regulators, audit firms and business leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to foster closer collaboration toward promoting auditing quality across the region. Observers of the event include IFIAR Secretariat and the World Bank.

During the virtual plenary meeting, ASEAN audit regulators shared and discussed recent regulatory updates and developments, emerging business trends, as well as issues across the region.

Group discussions, meanwhile, focused on topics such as Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) policy developments; ESG accounting and audit implications; Singapore’s audit adjustments study; and dialogue with the audit committees of publicly listed companies.

The virtual plenary meeting ultimately served as an avenue for ASEAN audit regulators to build a stronger connection and come up with modern-day solutions to the challenges faced by the region.

SEC Philippines Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said, “Auditors, audit committees, and regulators play critical roles in ensuring investors and creditors are provided with highquality financial reports that would empower them to make informed decisions, despite heightened uncertainties. Recognizing that public trust is the cornerstone of fair and efficient capital formation, maintaining high public trust remains an ongoing challenge to all of us…. Restoring public trust requires a significant transformation in the corporate and audit firm culture, internal controls and processes, and ethical responses.”

Chairman Aquino also added that audit firms are considered key players in economic development and nation-building, act as independent stewards of the capital market and are deemed vital in maintaining the reliability and accuracy of financial and nonfinancial information.

SEC Philippines Commissioner Karlo S. Bello concluded the Plenary Meeting and said, “This afternoon was filled with fruitful discussions on the increasing call for integrated financial and sustainable reporting and initiatives to continuously promote high-quality audits and financial reporting.”

The AARG has been exerting concerted efforts to enhance audit quality in the ASEAN region. This includes engaging audit firms on joint initiatives to address common inspection findings, updates that affect audit quality, promoting the value of audits, and sharing updates on audit regulatory developments in their respective jurisdictions to raise the bar of audit quality in the region.

The AARG is composed of Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Malaysia’s Audit Oversight Board (AOB), Indonesia’s Finance Professions Supervisory Center (PPPK), Thailand’s Securities and Exchange

Commission (SEC TH), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Philippines.