New Attestation Standard Clarifies Work Effort Of Review Engagements

Written By: Ken Tysiac

The AICPA Auditing Standards Board (ASB) issued a new standard Wednesday that is designed to make it clear that the objective of a review engagement is to obtain limited assurance about whether any material modifications should be made to the subject matter in order for it to be in accordance with (or based on) the criteria.

Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 22, Review Engagements, describes the types of procedures a practitioner may perform in a review engagement. In addition, SSAE No. 22:

  • Clarifies for practitioners that the objective of a review engagement is to obtain limited assurance instead of being an exercise in performing analytical procedures and inquiries.

  • Results in more transparent reporting by requiring that the practitioner disclose in the review report the procedures performed to obtain limited assurance.
  • Allows the practitioner to issue a report containing an adverse review conclusion when the subject matter is materially and pervasively misstated.

SSAE No. 22 supersedes SSAE No. 18, Attestation Standards: Clarification and Recodification, as amended, Section 210 of the same title.

“We believe it is in the public interest to enable the practitioner to express an adverse conclusion when appropriate, to alert the user that the subject matter information is materially misstated, and the effects of the misstatements are pervasive,” ASB Chair Tracy Harding, CPA, said in a news release. “As the profession anticipates and responds to reporting by organizations to their stakeholders and the needs for assurance, we also believe the enhancements to our standard provide helpful information by explaining the nature of the work done in review.”

The new standard includes revisions to conform certain concepts in AT-C Section 210, Review Engagements, with those same concepts in revised AT-C Section 205, Assertion-Based Examination Engagements, as a result of the recent issuance of SSAE No. 21, Direct Examination Engagements.

SSAE No. 22 takes effect for practitioners’ review reports dated on or after June 15, 2022. Early implementation is permitted only if the practitioner also early implements the amendments to AT-C Section 105, Concepts Common to All Attestation Engagements, included in SSAE No. 21.

— Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.