Internal audit. Risk management. IRFS. Fraud. Relationships with key executives. Audit committee chairs from Canadian public companies, including many cross-registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, have discussed these and other important audit committee oversight issues in our Canadian Audit Committee Network (CACN). The network was supported by EY.
This dialogue contributed to enhanced audit committee performance and highlighted opportunities for directors across the country to refine corporate governance practices. VantagePoint summaries are also available in English and French.
Recent network topics:
On June 1, 2015 in Toronto, members of the Canadian Audit Committee Network discussed the implications of declining oil prices with Gord Graham, senior client service partner at EY Canada. Members also discussed board oversight of large scale projects and mergers and acquisitions with Tim MacDonald, a partner in EY’s Transaction Advisory Services practice, and Joe Telebar, leader of EY Canada’s Transaction Support practice. Over dinner, members enjoyed a dialogue with Richard Leblanc, associate professor of law, governance, and ethics at York University.
Our latest issue of VantagePoints consolidates perspectives from meetings this past winter of over 80 audit committee chairs across North America. Within this issue, we address corporate culture and compliance, with a focus on the challenge directors face in assessing culture from their seats in the boardroom; new analytics tools that are changing companies' perceptions not only of their markets and customers, but also of their own operating and reporting systems; and finally, corporate tax as a matter of reputational concern, including ways to take charge of the narrative so as to tell the company's true tax story.
Our third issue of VantagePoints consolidates perspectives gleaned from meetings this past fall of over 80 audit committee chairs across North America. A common theme emerged from those discussions, anticipating change. Within this issue, we further explore: dialogue among audit committee chairs and members of the Public Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB); expectations for China and what a changing China will mean for the global economy as well as individual companies' operations; the new converged standard on revenue recognition, which goes into effect at the beginning of 2017; and finally the topic of risk and the close connection between strategic planning and risk.
In business you are constantly in pursuit of gaining the competitive edge. In a discussion amongst several guest speakers and the Canadian Audit Committee Network this was evident as the group explored opportunities to improve business performance; including data analytics, international operations, doing business in China, and the inherent risks associated with each. The group exchanged some helpful insight on the importance of a strategic approach to analytics, as well as how to develop an international talent strategy.
A common thread through each director discussion across all the North American regional audit committee networks was the importance of clear expectations and communications to establish and maintain strong and effective working relationships. Within this issue of VantagePoints the benefits of good communications were addressed across a variety of contexts: between the audit committee and internal audit in the face of ever-growing demands of that function, between the public and private sectors in collaborating on cybersecurity, and between companies and analysts in the disclosure of a company’s financial reporting.
The release of the revised Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) framework has prompted many organizations to conduct a holistic review of their approach to internal controls. This was of particular interest to the audit committee chairs because of their specific oversight responsibility for internal controls. In addition, CACN members focused on effective risk oversight, and although members acknowledged that “all risks matter,” they agreed that, “strategic risks are the most important and the most difficult to identify.”
Audit committee chairs have a role in facilitating clear, concise communication about the state of their companies. During this meeting guests and members exchanged a dialogue about the types of information analysts identify as valuable for financial reporting. In addition, members discussed social media risks while acknowledging “the power of listening to information from multiple sources,” to get an effective read on the company’s communication.
Canadian Audit Committee Network
Audit Committee Chair, Imperial Oil and Royal Bank of Canada