Policy, Audit and Risk
A Conversation with Cindy Fornelli 

Event Recap from April 11, 2017 Breakfast

NACD So Cal hosted a thought-provoking breakfast program featuring guest speaker Cindy Fornelli of The Center for Audit Quality (CAQ).  CAQ is dedicated to enhancing investor confidence and public trust in the global capital markets by fostering high quality performance by public company auditors, convening and collaborating with other stakeholders, and advocating policies and standards that promote public company auditors’ objectivity, effectiveness, and responsiveness to dynamic market conditions.  Securities lawyer Cindy Fornelli has served as the Executive Director of CAQ since its establishment in 2007.

Moderated by NACD So Cal Chapter President David Rosenblum, the fireside chat focused on policy and regulatory issues, audit advocacy, and corporate best practices for handling risk management.  Key takeaways included:

  • While legislative reform such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank has been largely reactive to fraud and crisis, the lesson is simple: “Companies doing the right thing” in terms of audit practices and securities law compliance is fundamentally a matter of all parties—corporate directors, financial executives, external auditors, and internal auditors—working together for the greater good. 
  • The soundness of the control environment and the integrity of the financial statements issued by public companies are dependent on the quality of the collaboration within and across this group.
  • The strongest boards typically comprise diversity of thought and perspective.  It’s important for board members to be well educated on major issues such as cybersecurity risk, but they do not need to be experts.  For example, if a change in rules required board designation of a “cybersecurity expert” similar to the requirement of a “financial expert,” the definition of expert would be similarly broad. 
  • Big 4 as well as smaller accounting firms are adopting recruiting practices that emulate the way technology companies search for talent, with a greater emphasis on identifying candidates with analytics, artificial intelligence, and Big Data knowledge and expertise.
  • Attracting, developing, and retaining superior audit talent is essential to enhancing the state of auditing for the benefit of markets and investors.  For finance professionals, there has never been a better time to have a career in the auditing profession as audit firms continue to excel in offering innovative and inclusive workplaces.

Cindy Fornelli, David Rosenblum
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