January 30, 2017

Welcome Remarks: Commemorating 10 Years of the Center for Audit Quality

Cindy Fornelli
Executive Director
Center for Audit Quality

 

January 30, 2017
Washington, DC

 

As prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon and a warm welcome to everyone. It really is such a pleasure to see so many good friends and colleagues here today.

Ten years ago, the public company auditing profession announced the formation of a new organization: The Center for Audit Quality.

With incredible vision and foresight, the leaders of the profession saw the need to create an organization that would serve investors, public company auditors, and the markets.

It would engage with all involved in our financial markets: auditors, investors, boards of directors and audit committees, preparers, academics, the financial press, and regulators and standard setters.

As we gather today to celebrate that momentous occasion—and the 10 eventful and productive years that followed—I am pleased to see so many of those involved in the creation of the CAQ here today, including a number of the CAQ’s current and former Governing Board members.

As we get underway with our celebration today, I want to state clearly that the story of the CAQ is certainly not the story of just one organization. No, far from it. The story of the CAQ is much, much greater than that. It is really about a profession: public company auditing.

And the underlying story of that profession is that it is a force for good that greatly benefits our capital markets, our economy, and investors.

I want pause for a moment to reflect on that idea: a force for good. What makes the public company auditing profession a force for good?

There are many answers to this question, and our program today will explore 10 of them. We've chosen 10 themes—one theme for each year of the CAQ's history. We call these our "10 for 10."

It was difficult to narrow our list down to just 10, and, in putting together this event, our process looked something like this.

First, we thought about the core values that are one of the profession's great distinguishing strengths: independence, objectivity, skepticism. These values anchor and guide the work of both the profession and the CAQ.

Second, our "10 for 10" themes reflect the profession's willingness and desire to connect and collaborate with others throughout our capital market system.

Indeed, the CAQ was founded with a strong recognition of the need to engage in robust dialogue with a variety of stakeholder communities.

Like the public company auditing profession, these communities are integral to our vibrant capital markets, and so the CAQ has partnered and engaged with them enthusiastically.

We’ve partnered with investors, most notably to tell the story of the importance of independent standard setting and robust financial reporting for all investors.

We’ve connected with academics through our grant program and research activities, as well as through our active engagement with professors, researchers, and students.

We've collaborated closely with audit committee members, recognizing that strong audit committees help enhance audit quality.

We've teamed up with key groups in the fight against financial reporting fraud. Foremost among these groups are the CAQ's partners in the Anti-Fraud Collaboration: the National Association of Corporate Directors, Financial Executives International, and The Institute of Internal Auditors.

And of course, we've engaged constructively with our regulators. From the CAQ's very beginnings, we have carried out the profession's desire to be, as a distinguished member of the profession once said, "full partners with our regulators in driving meaningful and purposeful change."

I am so pleased that we have representatives from all of these stakeholder groups with us today.

And that leads me to my next thought on our program this afternoon. Our "10 for 10" themes speak to the innovation and evolution of public company auditing.

Yes, audit quality is strong today—and I dare say stronger—than it was 10 years ago. But this profession never stops looking for ways to continue to strengthen the system. This proactivity is apparent in so many aspects of the profession's and the CAQ's work.

We are keenly focused on effective transparency for investors.

We have advocated around key policy matters, such as audit quality indicators and the auditor's report.

We are leaders in technology, as firms pioneer artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics to strengthen the audit, advancements that will appeal to the next generation of auditors.

And last, but by no means least, consider how the profession is stepping up to tackle tough challenges.

Cybersecurity, revenue recognition, the use of non-GAAP financial information: on these issues and many others, the profession is a leader, and the CAQ is honored to play a role in moving us forward.

In sum, we have so much to celebrate today—and that includes you. Let me express the CAQ's appreciation for the contributions of everyone here today.

Over the past 10 years, you have upheld and advanced the profession's core values. You have reached out and helped the profession engage with others. You have contributed to the innovative spirit that moves the profession and our markets forward. And you have been a part of the force for good that is the story of public company auditing.

Thanks to all of you.

I want to turn our attention to leadership. Over the years, both the public company auditing profession and the CAQ have benefitted enormously from strong and capable leaders: men and women with foresight and a strong sense of the values and principles that we will discuss today.

One such leader is Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte and the Chair of the CAQ Governing Board.

Cathy has been with Deloitte since 1986. While serving Deloitte’s largest and most complex global clients, she rose steadily through the ranks at the firm.

In February 2015, she was named CEO, thereby taking the trailblazing step of becoming the first woman to lead a major US professional services firm.

At that time, Cathy also joined the CAQ Governing Board and then became our Chair. She has been a terrific guiding presence for our organization and me in so many ways.

An important one, of course, is her championship of the CAQ's talent initiative, which aims to ensure the continued vitality of public company auditing.

Cathy, thank you for all that you do for the profession and the CAQ.

Ladies and gentlemen, Cathy Engelbert.