External audits of banks - final document

March 2014

The recent financial crisis not only revealed weaknesses in risk management, control and governance processes at banks, but also highlighted the need to improve the quality of external audits of banks. Given the central role banks play in contributing to financial stability, and therefore the need for market confidence in the quality of external audits of banks' financial statements, the Basel Committee is issuing this guidance on external audits of banks. This document enhances and supersedes the Committee's guidance The relationship between banking supervisors and bank's external auditors (2002) and External audit quality and banking supervision (2008).

This document describes supervisory expectations regarding audit quality and how that relates to the work of the external auditor and of the audit Committee in a bank. Implementation of the principles and the explanatory guidance is expected to improve the quality of bank audits and enhance the effectiveness of prudential supervision which is an important element of financial stability.

This document sets out supervisory expectations of how:

  1. audit committees can contribute to audit quality in their oversight of the external audit function;
  2. external auditors can discharge their responsibilities more effectively;
  3. an effective relationship between the external auditor and the supervisor, which allows greater mutual understanding about the respective roles and responsibilities of supervisors and external auditors, can lead to regular communication of mutually useful information; and
  4. regular and effective dialogue between the banking supervisory authorities and relevant audit oversight bodies can enhance the quality of bank audits.

In addition to the proposed guidance, the Committee published a letter to the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) on areas where it believes International Standards on Auditing could be enhanced. Serving as an observer on the Basel Committee group that developed the revised guidance, the IAASB provided helpful and meaningful input to this effort.