Analysis on the way forward for assurance providers

Tim Bauer, PhD, CPA
Bradley Pomeroy, PhD

On this version of the Audit High quality Weblog, we invited Tim Bauer and Bradley Pomeroy from the College of Waterloo to share highlights from a joint analysis mission we’ve undertaken to higher perceive the way forward for assurance providers.

When most of us take into consideration the reassurance providers provided by CPAs, what normally involves thoughts is the monetary assertion audit. As assurance researchers, we all know the demand for assurance goes far past monetary reporting and there’s a want to grasp the opposite areas the place CPAs (and different service suppliers) provide assurance providers and the place there’s alternative for the longer term. We’re addressing this want with a analysis mission to tell the reassurance career, serving to it to fulfill the brand new and rising calls for in an ever-shifting market.

On this weblog, you’ll find out about:

  • areas past historic monetary reporting the place assurance providers are at present provided or have the potential to emerge
  • how CPAs search and develop new assurance service areas
  • the place our analysis mission goes subsequent


Our analysis group performed an intensive search of public-facing web sites to catalogue the marketplace for assurance providers past monetary assertion audits and critiques. We recognized 33 areas the place assurance providers are at present provided or have potential to emerge and gathered the next particulars:

  • nature of the service
  • underlying material standards and the reassurance or associated providers/requirements
  • service suppliers (CPAs or others)

A glimpse into three of the service areas recognized

Service suppliers with totally different expertise and {qualifications} are providing a variety of assurance and verification providers. As new service choices emerge to lend credibility to reported info, not all choices are created equal. Listed here are just a few examples from our analysis, together with a short clarification of what the service is:

Pretend Information Examine – Reality checking and credibility rankings for information content material, together with pictures, video and textual info. This contains searching for proof of alterations to the supply paperwork. To our information, there isn’t a formal standards that can be utilized to carry out assurance providers on this space, and CPAs usually are not at present providing such providers.

Proof of Reserves (PoR) for Crypto-Asset Holdings – Meant to confirm {that a} crypto-asset buying and selling platform or custodian has ample belongings available to cowl buyer balances. There’s scrutiny available in the market proper now associated to the restrictions of  the providers provided on this space. The PoR providers that we’re primarily conscious of so far are agreed-upon procedures engagements. In such engagements, factual findings are described nonetheless no assurance opinion is supplied.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) or Sustainability Assurance – Third-party verification of an entity’s sustainability info. Regulators globally are taking a look at necessities for assurance over GHG emissions and different sustainability info and are contemplating what type of assurance and by whom it must be supplied.  The momentum on this space is constructing quickly with CPAs and non-CPAs providing each assurance and advisory providers.

To take care of the CPA’s relevance in an increasing and fast-changing enterprise surroundings, the career should anticipate and stand able to embrace new providers!

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To increase the information gained from the cataloguing course of, we additionally performed interviews to higher perceive how CPAs search and develop new assurance providers. Beneath are some high-level insights gained:

Demand is articulated by purchasers – Purchasers often and routinely method CPAs with assurance (or different) wants arising from enterprise actions. Interviewees emphasised that taking the shopper’s lead is simpler in the case of increasing their service choices, somewhat than making an attempt to promote purchasers on providers they really feel they don’t want. If attentive to the enterprise exercise of their purchasers and wishes expressed, CPAs could have ample alternative to offer client-valued providers.

Regulation and enterprise companions play a job – Interviewees indicated that demand for assurance providers arises when purchasers should abide by standards/requirements as a result of regulation. One other key supply driving demand is purchasers’ enterprise companions (e.g., distributors, service-consuming organizations, purchasers), who’re demanding assurance over facets of their enterprise as “desk stakes” to have interaction in enterprise exercise. That’s, “No assurance? No contract!” Most outstanding on this context are engagements associated to Techniques and Group Controls (SOC).

It typically begins with advisory engagements – CPA companies use consulting engagements, comparable to readiness assessments, within the early phases of service improvement. After purchasers create the infrastructure (e.g., processes, insurance policies, controls, info methods) essential to allow third-party assurance, they can shift to assurance engagements.

Expertise is essential – CPA companies have a substantial demand for expertise to deploy in new assurance service areas (e.g, ESG) and inadequate provide. Current analysis argues that the profitable enlargement of assurance service choices by CPAs depends upon the supply of material experience and experience in assurance and verification (Knechel 2021).


As a part of our continued analysis, and to boost our findings so far, we’re planning upcoming roundtables with CPAs in apply. These discussions will assist validate what makes CPAs effectively positioned to supply providers in some areas however not different areas, why sure areas have notable threats or alternatives for CPAs and what’s wanted for CPAs to efficiently develop into new areas. Later in 2023, we’ll share the detailed outcomes of our analysis.

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How are modifications in know-how and society impacting the reassurance providers your purchasers are requesting? What assurance service areas do you assume provide probably the most compelling alternatives for CPA practitioners to develop their service choices? E-mail us on to share your suggestions and to be taught typically in regards to the alternatives obtainable for collaborating in ongoing analysis tasks.


The views and opinions expressed on this article are these of the writer and don’t essentially replicate that of CPA Canada.