As a new crop of college graduates joins the audit profession, U.S. audit leaders issued a joint statement to sell them on the viability of their career path.
The letter is signed by top leaders at all the Big 4 firms—Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC—plus BDO USA and Grant Thornton, and a leader at the CEO of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. It welcomes “thousands of newly minted U.S. accounting graduates” to the auditing profession, one “full of promise.”
The authors of the letter “felt it was a fitting time to express their commitment to capital markets and audit quality as a new class of college graduates joins the profession,” said Cindy Fornelli, executive director of the Center for Audit Quality, which is credited with initiating the statement. “The statement allows the CEOs to highlight the many positive attributes of public company auditing, including its focus on diversity, its opportunities to develop skillsets and to use cutting-edge technology, and its purpose-driven nature.”
The letter tells new auditors they have entered a profession of opportunity, “to learn and grow in a place where diversity, inclusiveness, respect, and doing right by others is not only embraced but central to our long-term success.” The six audit firms that produced the statement are consistently named among the best places to work, the letter says.
While the letter may coincide with the on-boarding of a new class of auditors, it also coincides with some blistering criticism leveled at the auditing profession. Auditors have been under fire in capital markets on various fronts for several years, especially since the advent of Sarbanes-Oxley in the wake of major accounting scandals, which established regulation over the auditng profession.
Inspection reports from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board continue to call for needed improvements in audit outcomes, and international regulators are observing similar concerns in other countries. A cheating scandal in the inspection process hasn’t helped auditors’ image, and a recent massive finding against auditors in a major bank failure only piled on further.
The letter says the firms have been working with the PCAOB for 15 years, making “massive investments” in quality control systems, codes of conduct, partner assignments, technical accounting and auditing support specialists, and internal inspections. “We have oriented partner compensation around rewarding quality, built accountability frameworks, and developed robust processes for analyzing quality drivers,” the letter states.