Building confidence needs a solid framework
I believe that the increasing number of areas of subject matter desired for assurance is building a renewed assurance framework. In doing so new areas of assurance are built and older ones restored.
The need for assurance stems from our need for re-assurance and confidence in the data we use in organisations, the information we quote and the processes that we rely on. Knowing this and having assurance over them is getting more and more important. We’ve seen a growing need for this in different subject matter areas such as internal controls, sustainability information, and the UK Stewardship Code. Other areas are also being considered…
Of course we have had subject matter assurance reporting in the company, charity and pension audited financial reporting for many years but somehow the new demands are making a difference to the way we think about assurance and having confidence in the way businesses operate.
The ICAEW Assurance Sourcebook tackles this. It is the first detailed guide to assurance services and reveals how these parts fit together. The Sourcebook (2.1) usefully defines three broad categories of subject matter:
(1) Data: extracted or calculated volumes, values or other items
(2) Processes and controls: a series of organised activities designed to meet defined objectives, and
(3) Reporting: a whole or part of a written report which may contain a combination of data, design of processes and narrative, including any assertions the reporting organisation has made.
These three areas Data, Processes/controls, and Reporting are what makes up the fabric for how businesses operate. They are key to how directors, managers and employees can carry out good governance and efficient, effective operations. Highlighting these three broad subject matters areas is opening up an exciting new era for assurance and building a solid framework to improve organisations.