AICPA, Big Four Launch New Group

After a decade of downers, the Center for Audit Quality seeks to rebuild the image of the profession.

A new group dedicated to “improve audit quality” and backed by the largest accounting firms will seek to rebuild the image of the profession after a series of high-profile scandals.

The Center for Audit Quality was launched Tuesday by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and eight firms: BDO Seidman, Crowe Chizek, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, KPMG, McGladrey & Pullen, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Its stated mission: “To foster confidence in the audit process and to aid investors and the capital markets by advancing constructive suggestions for change rooted in the profession’s core values of integrity, objectivity, honesty, and trust.” The center will also undertake research, offer recommendations to enhance investor confidence, issue technical support for public company auditing professionals, and help facilitate the public discussion about modernizing business reporting.

“As the umpires in the capital markets, public company auditors stand at the intersection between investors and corporations,” said executive director Cynthia Fornelli, in a statement. “This unique perspective gives us the opportunity, and more important, the responsibility to actively participate in the conversation about the future of the capital markets. We believe that investors and the capital markets will benefit from a robust voice representing the public company auditing profession.”

The group also announced that it hired Jane O. Cobb, director of the office of legislative affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission, to be its director of operations, reported Bloomberg.

Its governing board will include the chief executives of the AICPA and the six largest accounting firms, CEOs from two other firms on a rotating basis, and leaders from the investor and issuer communities, according to the center.

According to Dow Jones, the new organization replaces the AICPA’s center for public company audit firms.

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