Leading By Accountability

June 2018

As a leader in the audit profession, BDO is committed to providing the same level of transparency to our stakeholders as our clients provide to theirs. In that spirit of transparency, we believe it is valuable for us to share the highlights from our ongoing review of our audit practice.
 
We have become highly disciplined in reflecting on our own operations to ensure we are living up to our core values and identifying ways to improve. A central part of that accountability includes surveying our people to ask for their feedback and input on how to serve clients more effectively. Given their close relationships with clients and the countless hours they spend getting to know clients’ businesses, our people have an invaluable perspective to add as we determine whether the actions of our leaders and our firm are aligned with clients’ goals and the audit profession’s standards.
 

"We believe in supporting the integrity of capital markets through the attestation services we provide. We task our leaders with the important responsibility of continually identifying opportunities to enhance audit quality."
 

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CHRISTOPHER TOWER
National Assurance Managing Partner, Audit Quality & Professional Practice
 
 

Taking Our Pulse

Our annual firm-wide Pulse survey provides important feedback for our leaders. 
 
This survey shows how our people perceive the tone and content of leadership’s messages about quality. The survey also gauges how well the firm is supporting our professionals in their work. We rely on survey results to help guide our journey as a best-in-class organization.
 
The most current Pulse survey, conducted in 2017, indicated that as a firm, BDO is performing particularly well in communication, employee development, and articulating expectations during client engagements. 

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In a profession that is highly focused on retaining high-caliber employees, this finding shows that we are making significant progress toward keeping our people satisfied with their work and career prospects within BDO. This, in turn, provides stability and continuity for our clients. 
 
There were also areas where we saw opportunities to grow and improve as a firm. With these results in mind, we immediately began developing plans to implement changes and then measure and report our progress. For example, we saw a clear need to tie audit quality metrics to everything BDO does, from leadership messaging to individual performance goals at all levels.
 
Surveys like this serve two purposes—to help ensure that we do not overlook problems or issues that need to be addressed and to develop a baseline of performance and a means to measure progress over time in critical areas of our operations. The power of this survey and the honest, insightful feedback it generates cannot be overstated. That is why leaders within our National Assurance Office recently added a second survey to the mix—to gain specific insight from the Assurance practice with respect to various elements of audit quality. 
 
The first Audit Quality and Operational Excellence Survey was conducted this past year, asking questions of Assurance managers through partners. While the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and indicated that our people believe our leadership is focusing on the right priorities, the survey also proved to be a gold mine of ideas about how we can improve our audit work and the practice itself. 
 
The most valuable part of the survey was the more than 700 substantive written suggestions we received. These suggestions emphasized both what we should keep doing and what we can do to continually improve. Many of these suggestions have already become the basis for adjustments to our way of doing things and have inspired a variety of initiatives designed to strengthen certain areas of operations and client engagement. Others are being proactively woven into near-term plans. Refer to Figure 2 for a snapshot of complete and ongoing activities noted throughout this report. 
 

Assessing Our Strength

Our annual Pulse survey and our newly launched Audit Quality and Operational Excellence Survey provide valuable insight from our professionals about how the firm is fulfilling its commitment to best-in-class service. Highlights from the surveys include:
 
Pulse Survey
BDO professionals across our firm either agree or strongly agree with the following:
  • 92% Our engagement teams and leaders clearly communicate expectations and are committed to executing high quality work for our clients
  • 90% Firm and office leadership communicate clearly and often to our staff about BDO’s commitment to quality
  • 93% At least one of the leaders in their practice or department cares about their development
  • 92% I am empowered to use my own judgment to make decisions
  • 95% I understand how my role contributes to the firm’s success
Audit Quality and Operational Excellence Survey
Our Assurance professionals specifically rate BDO as “very good” to “excellent” on the following statements on a five point scale:
Audit Quality and Operational Excellence
  • 4.4 I understand what is expected of me with respect to audit quality
  • 4.4 My Office Managing Partner is aligned with my executing audits with audit quality being a significant priority of the firm
Our Commitments
  • 4.5 I believe my most direct supervisor demonstrates an effective commitment to audit quality
  • 4.7 I believe I am personally responsible for our delivery of audit quality
Audit Quality Assessment Process
  • 4.4 I believe the Audit Quality Assessment Process is necessary for achieving our firm’s strategic objectives


Leading into the Future

We believe that our efforts to maintain a nimble and responsive organization are critical to our role as a leader in the auditing profession. With leadership who listens to our people and empowers change, we can more deftly identify opportunities for improvement and continually look for new and better ways to serve our clients. Our commitment to remaining a best-in-class organization depends on our ability not only to adjust to change as it happens but to anticipate change before it occurs. Our people on the front lines of audits are in the best position to help us accomplish that.

Figure 2. Identifying Areas for Growth
Getting feedback from our professionals is just one step on our path to audit quality. We are committed to turning what we find into action. Below are some of the key priorities that have emerged from our survey results and the steps we are taking to turn these ideas into tangible results.

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