On the 2021 audit committee agenda

On the 2021 audit committee agenda

Seven issues for audit committees to keep in mind as they consider and carry out their 2021 agendas.


The events and crises of 2020—COVID-19, recession, extreme weather events, deep-seated social unrest, and an increasingly polarized America—paint a picture of a daunting and opaque business and risk environment for the coming year. Global volatility—driven by trade and geopolitical tensions, resurging debt, technology and business model disruption, elevated cyber risk, regulatory scrutiny, and political gridlock in the U.S. and elsewhere—will add to the challenge. The pressure on employees, management, the board, and governance will be significant.

Prioritizing a heavy audit committee agenda will be particularly challenging. Along with the business and the full board, the audit committee will continue to operate against a backdrop of tremendous uncertainty and an uneven economic recovery. Drawing on insights from our latest survey work and interactions with audit committees and business leaders, we highlight seven issues for audit committees to keep in mind as they consider and carry out their 2021 agendas:

  • Take a fresh look at the audit committee’s agenda and workload.
  • Monitor the financial reporting and disclosure impacts of COVID-19 on the company’s filings.
  • Reinforce audit quality and understand the impact of COVID-19 on the external audit process.
  •  Work with management to reassess and oversee the scope and quality of the company’s ESG/sustainability reports and disclosures.  
  • Understand how technology is impacting the finance organization’s talent, efficiency, and value-add. 
  • Help ensure that internal audit remains focused on the most critical risks, including risks posed by COVID-19.
  • Sharpen the focus on the company’s ethics, compliance, and whistle-blower programs, recognizing the increased pressure on employees.

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