"THERE'S Noe (no way) but QAR." These words from Noe Quiñanola, chairman of the Board of Accountancy (BoA), during the recently concluded QAR Summit last January 12 to 13 at the Century Park Hotel encapsulated the subject of the successful conference.
The summit was jam-packed with certified public accountants (CPAs) from all over the country who heard directly from regulators talk about the Quality Assurance Review (QAR) program that will soon be implemented to all public accounting firms. Interest in the QAR Program has peaked as this will soon be a renewal requirement for practicing CPAs in the Philippines regardless of an accounting firm's size.
I must admit that our company is part of the group of small firms and practitioners who are worried about the upcoming inspection by the BoA as preparation for QAR compliance. Some concerns raised during the summit included the cost implications, implementation of higher client fees that may not be affordable and the nonrenewal of accreditations of CPA practitioners.
Is there any other way not to undergo the QAR inspection program? Again, there's no way but QAR, unless Section 9 of Republic Act 9298 is amended. The silence was deafening during the first part of the summit when regulators from the BoA discussed the program and its implications. Here are the salient notes shared by them during the summit:
– If the accreditation renewal date is Jan. 1, 2024 onwards, QAR clearance will be required.
– Enrollment in the QAR Program should be done at least six months prior to renewal.
– Firms will be grouped into Category A, or those with publicly listed clients, and Category B, or those with non-publicly listed clients. There was also a suggestion during the summit that another group, Category C, should perhaps be considered to align with the grouping by the financial reporting framework adopted by clients such as full PFRS (Category A), PFRS for SMEs (Category B) and PFRS for SEs (Category C). The suggestion was noted by the regulators who promised that it would be considered.
– Revised QAR fee schedules will be issued soon.
– Accounts will be randomly selected and subjected to inspection, such as 2-3 files for small firms, 6-7 accounts for medium-sized firms, and 2-3 files per partner for large-sized firms.
– The QAR inspection is not meant to police practitioners or be a tool for fault-finding. The main objective is to identify the correct practices already in place to be emulated.
– No penalties will be imposed for identified noncompliance.
– Review findings will not result in the amendment of duly filed reports with government agencies but will only be applied and corrected in the subsequent financial reporting.
– The first three years of implementation will not result in nonrenewal of accreditation. There will be a higher degree of leniency so that all practitioners can adjust and eventually comply with the QAR requirements.
– The program intends to uplift the public's trust in the profession. Notarial CPAs or those signing financial statements without conducting a proper audit are expected to be eventually eliminated. Working papers and documentation of obtained audit evidence should always be prepared and made available.
– Formal consultations with the BoA will be done annually while informal ones will be done whenever possible.
– The QAR office has already been established and will always be available to address concerns from practitioners. The contract details are: address, 4th floor, PICPA Building, 700 Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City; email, firstname.lastname@example.org; and mobile number, 0968-853-0060.
– There may really be no other way but QAR, a major challenge, something that will definitely change the playing field for public accounting practitioners.
I came across an article from MindTools and I quote, "Change can be difficult because it can challenge how we think, how we work, the quality of our relationships, and even our physical security or sense of identity." The article also shared the four stages of change: shock/denial; anger/fear; acceptance; and commitment. I felt that during the summit, the majority of the participants were still at Stage 1 or 2. I hope and pray that we can all creach Stage 3 then 4 in the soonest possible time, since there's no way but QAR.
Floyd C. Paguio, CPA, MBA is the chairman and CEO of Paguio, Dumayas & Associates, CPAs-PrimeGlobal Philippines. He is a former member of the board directors of the Acpapp and an incoming trustee of the Acpapp Foundation. The views and opinions in this article are the author's and do not represent those of these institutions.