24 July 2009 — Publication
Alternative assurance and related services are basically all services offered to entities other than an audit of their financial statements. They are in technical terms referred to by the international auditing standard setter, the IAASB, as accounts compilation and agreed-upon procedures services (non-assurance engagements), moderate level of or limited assurance services (e.g. reviews) and reasonable assurance services. A wide variety of such services are currently offered to entities in European countries.
The vast majority, but not all, of the alternative assurance or related services are developed for audit-exempt entities. It appears that the increases in audit exemption thresholds over the last few years in a number of European countries have exacerbated the need for alternative services for Small and Medium Sized Entities (SMEs). This trend is also expected to continue in the near future. In some countries, these services are, or are considered to be, mandatory.
A swift IAASB response as an early indication of the latest international thinking in relation to alternative assurance services would undoubtedly help limit national initiatives from going in different directions.
FEE also calls on the national auditing and assurance standard setters in Europe, European Union Member States, other European regulators and FEE Member Bodies to reconsider their initiatives in light of the expected revisions to the IAASB assurance services standards.