Moves by the accounting watchdog to raise the audit quality of listed firms have paid off, with most directors saying the enhanced financial report is an improvement - although fewer investors agree.
It became mandatory for all listed companies here to disclose Key Audit Matters (KAMs) in their independent auditor's reports from Dec 15 last year.
The top KAMs this year often related to impairment testing and valuation.
While 76 per cent of the 109 listed-company audit committees felt that the auditor's report had improved this year, only 65 per cent of the 133 investors surveyed agreed.
One reason is that although audit committees may prefer "a neutral description of the KAM to not 'alarm' investors unnecessarily", investors want auditors to make bolder statements to alert them of underlying risks, suggested the review, which was conducted by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and other parties. Yet investors might take comfort that 57 per cent of audit committees said they had gained moderately or significantly deeper insights into the financial reporting risks of their entities as a result of considering KAMs.
Another concern was that close to half of the top three KAMs reported by auditors had generic descriptions, which raised the question of whether KAMs might descend into boilerplate disclosures.
Still, veteran investor Ang Hao Yao said the enhanced auditor's report gave him more confidence in its valuation figures, even if the auditors did not go into specifics about the property valuation methods used. "It's better info than before, and if the auditors state it specifically then I'm more comfortable."