New world, new reality

Our world has fundamentally changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic recovery will depend upon business being able to navigate this new environment and remain resilient. Management, boards and audit committees each have a role to play in leading their organizations forward through these times.

For many businesses, COVID-19 has been a great accelerator and transformation is taking place at breakneck speed. For others, months into the pandemic, they are moving from short-term business continuity and crisis plans to managing through ongoing uncertainty. Going forward, audit committees will be challenged to monitor, respond and adapt.

Issues that demanded attention before the pandemic have taken on new urgency. In this year's KPMG Accelerate campaign we look at some of the most important challenges facing audit committees right now. Risk management is the overarching theme — firms will need to look at how they've responded to the pandemic and ask themselves what they might need to do differently in the future.

In our Accelerate series, subject matter experts from across KPMG in Canada provide thought-provoking insights on the issue of risk management in a number of key areas: cyber risk; internal control of financial reporting, disclosure and regulation; digital disruption and the future of the finance function; enterprise risk management; and the evolution of environmental, social and governance issues.

As organizations rapidly implemented new work from home models in response to the pandemic, it hastened their plans to initiate or accelerate digital transformation programs. This has placed organizations at greater risk of cyber threats and audit committees must ensure management is monitoring these risks and implementing proper controls.

A key to great oversight – and great leadership – is not to necessarily have all the answers, but to ask the right questions.

Kristy Carscallen
Canadian Managing Partner, Audit
KPMG in Canada

Prior to the pandemic, there was already a growing emphasis on environmental, social and governance issues (ESG), with multiple stakeholders, including institutional investors, demanding that organizations devote more attention to them. There are also new developments in the move to create universal ESG metrics and reporting standards that companies can report on regardless of their industry or region. Since ESG issues are a useful way of getting the full picture of an organization's risk profile, audit committees will play a key role in this oversight effort.

Each organization will find a unique path to navigating these times and dealing with the key issues facing audit committees. But many of their challenges will be similar and many of their questions will be the same. In each section of our series, our experts highlight some of the questions audit committees should be asking themselves right now. After all, a key to great oversight — and great leadership — is not to necessarily have all the answers, but to ask the right questions.

Let's do this.