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  • Intapp Employee Compliance

The top 3 compliance and security features your accounting firm needs to stay compliant with PCAOB auditing standards

With the PCOAB’s renewed focus on auditing standards, it’s more crucial than ever that your accounting firm stays compliant with existing and evolving financial regulations. Penalties for noncompliance have become more severe for even minor violations — and then there’s your firm’s reputational damage to consider.

Your firm can manage compliance processes with industry-specific technology that can monitor firms’ compliance with regulatory obligations. Manual processes and emails and disjointed systems are being replaced by automated processes that can be configured to your firm’s needs, which can help your firm drive significant efficiency gains and growth. Let’s explore how software can transform your firm’s ability to comply with its risk management obligations using direct brokerage feeds, configurable independence attestation processes, and pre-trade clearance workflows — capabilities previously unavailable to all but the largest global accounting firms.

Ensure employee compliance with direct brokerage feeds

Monitoring outside investment accounts held by your partners is likely one of the biggest challenges your accounting firm faces. These personal brokerage accounts must be tracked regularly to detect potential conflicts of interest with clients, which has historically been a burdensome and time-consuming process.

Intapp Employee Compliance connects directly to the brokerages where your partners hold their financial interests. This enables automated tracking and monitoring of your partners’ investment accounts and personal investments. These brokerage feeds provide visibility into personal financial interests that could cause independence impairments with respect to your firm’s clients and engagements.

The personal account data can then be automatically screened against updated restricted lists of securities your employees may not invest in due to independence rules and standards. For example, if your firm performs audit work for company A, your employees may be prohibited from trading company A stock. Direct brokerage feeds allow firms to continuously auto-compare their partners’ financial interests against the firm’s restricted list to protect against inadvertent independence impairments that today could go undetected. In the past, gathering information on employee accounts required countless administrative hours. Partners would have to pause delivering service to their clients to take the time to submit voluminous paper statements that compliance staff would then review manually. It was far too easy for prohibited trades or holdings to slip through.

With automated brokerage feeds, restricted list violations get flagged immediately. Your compliance teams and risk officers will gain peace of mind knowing they have full oversight of all employee financial interests. And by preventing potential independence impairments proactively through this automated process, your firm can clearly demonstrate to audit committees and regulators your firm’s commitment to complying with PCAOB auditing standards.

Automate annual independence attestations

Another core compliance obligation for accounting firms is partners’ annual written attestations certifying that they are in compliance with the firm’s independence policies and standards. Efficiently gathering these mandatory attestations from all partners has historically been a major administrative burden.

In the past and even today, firms would email forms individually to partners, who would then have to sign and return them one by one. Compliance staff would then spend hours over weeks and months chasing down outstanding forms. And inevitably, some partners would accidentally overlook attestations, opening the firm up to the possibility of a regulatory finding if this was uncovered during a regulatory inspection. Intapp Employee Compliance helps automate and streamline this inefficient, sometimes chaotic process. This configurable technology can send customized attestation forms on a scheduled basis, then provide real-time tracking of responses. Automated reminders ensure that no attestations slip through the cracks. Detailed management dashboards give compliance teams increased visibility into exactly who has and has not completed their annual attestations.

Deploying a software solution for annual independence attestations provides major efficiency gains for accounting firms during their scheduled and ad hoc regulatory inspections. For example, consider the following common scenario: A firm’s head of compliance spends an entire week compiling exhaustive independence proofs for a subset of partners after a short-notice auditor request. She wastes countless hours gathering documentation that could have been available on demand.

Automated attestation systems prevent this kind of scenario from occurring. With a solution like Intapp Employee Compliance, any partner’s current attestation status is immediately accessible, and complete documentation for the entire firm can be pulled instantly if required by an auditor. Streamlined attestation and document management reduces administrative work and strengthens compliance.

Streamline pre-trade clearance processes

Larger accounting firms often require partners and other employees to get advance clearance before making personal investments. This pre-trade approval acts as a safeguard to ensure that trades do not pose any conflicts of interest or compromise a firm’s personnel independence.

Historically, employees requested these pre-trade approvals via email and informal conversations with their firm’s compliance team. But such laborious communication methods made it close to impossible to consistently track approvals and prevent unintentional restricted trades.

With an automated solution, your firm can optimize pre-trade workflows to remove the complexity of email and verbal back-and-forth. Employees simply enter the details of proposed security purchases or sales through a straightforward online request form. Compliance staff then review each requested trade against current independence policies, approve or deny it, and document reasons when necessary.

With this streamlined approval workflow, your firm can maintain centralized records of all pre-clearance requests and their status. Any declined transactions get flagged for follow-up. It reduces confusion by enforcing consistency across your organization. And your compliance teams will gain expanded oversight and prevent costly and reputation-harming violations of PCAOB auditing standards.

Leverage a purpose-built tool

Automating traditionally disjointed manual processes allows today’s accounting firms to drive efficiency, centralize oversight, and strengthen regulatory compliance with PCAOB auditing standards. With Intapp Employee Compliance, your firm can leverage direct brokerage feeds, automated personal attestations, and pre-trade clearance workflows to deliver improved compliance without increasing costs.

This shift allows professionals to spend less time on repetitive administrative work and more time delivering strategic value to clients. Meanwhile, centralized visibility and automation provides assurance that policies are being followed consistently across your firm.

Intapp Employee Compliance provides the comprehensive oversight necessary for firms to confidently fulfill their ethical standards and regulatory requirements. Adopting this technology will future-proof your firm for a complex and ever-evolving risk environment.

Schedule a demo to learn more about Intapp Employee Compliance and how it can help your accounting firm conduct compliant audits.