By Terence Jeyaretnam, director, Net Balance
The International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE 3000) is a standard used globally for assurance engagements for audits or reviews of historical non-financial information. Here at Net Balance, a specialist sustainability firm, we use the ASAE3000 (along with the more qualitative AA1000AS), its Australian cousin, generally alike in scope and application. While the ASAE3000 has always allowed non-accountants to use the standard, the IAASB has only recently adopted this provision.
From experience we believe there are numerous benefits when utilising the suite of ISAE/ ASAE 3000 in conjunction with the AA1000 Assurance Standards (AA1000 AS), which has traditionally been the domain of specialist sustainability firms. The AA1000 AS is a holistic sustainability-focussed standard designed specifically for assessing and strengthening the credibility and quality of an organisation’s social, economic and environmental reporting.
Here at Net Balance we encourage the revised ISAE 3000 to be used in conjunction with a detailed approach of the AA1000 AS, and be applied together during the phases of planning, obtaining evidence and establishing quality controls.
Having the experience of successfully completing over 250 Assurance engagements, we believe a more complete assurance can be undertaken by using both the AA1000 AS and the ISAE 3000 in combination.
Accordingly, this revision creates new opportunities for Assurance providers housing subject matter experts in sustainability to provide Assurance to all organisations. Numerous advantages include:
- Increased representation of materiality – Defined by the assurance provider and the client organisation, subject matter experts using their professional and experienced judgements can now delve deeper into complex topics such as supply chain issues, water, waste management, or even inform clients about the global landscape on human rights.
- Risk identification – Subject matter experts understand the clients’ business and operations and therefore they can leverage past experience to address existing risks and to identify new sustainability-based risks.
- Value add – Subject matter experts can provide feasible value adding recommendations. This is an increasingly important factor as most reports received by management from assurance providers should provide strategies to help clients understand both the risks and opportunities in a fast changing regulatory environment.
Read Deloitte’s viewpoint on the matter here