Covid-19, recession and related uncertainties all paint a daunting picture of the risk environment for the year ahead. Global volatility – driven by trade and geopolitical tensions, resurging debt, technology and business model disruption, elevated cyber risk and regulatory scrutiny – will add to the challenge. The pressure on employees, management, boards, and the governance framework will be significant.

Prioritizing an already demanding audit committee agenda will be particularly challenging. Along with the business and the full board, audit committees will continue to operate against a backdrop of tremendous uncertainty and an uneven economic recovery. Drawing on insights from our surveys and discussions with audit committees and business leaders, we’ve flagged eight issues that audit committees should keep in mind as they consider and carry out their 2021 agendas.

  1. Reassess the committee’s agenda and workload
  2. Maintain focus on the corporate reporting and control implications of Covid-19
  3. Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on the external audit process
  4. Evolving risk management requirements
  5. Sharpen the focus on the company’s compliance, ethics, and whistle-blower programs
  6. Oversee the scope and quality of the company’s ESG reports and disclosures
  7. Understand how technology is impacting the finance function’s talent, efficiency, and value-add
  8. Help ensure that internal audit remains focused on the most critical risks, including any Covid-19 risks