How a quality audit enhances trust

The Sustainable Audit Quality program supports EY teams in delivering high-quality audits that improve stakeholder trust in businesses.

My top priority at EY is and always has been the delivery of high-quality audits. It is what motivates me and more than 75,000 audit professionals across the globe every day.

High-quality audits are the start and end point in inspiring confidence and trust across the capital markets, facilitating economic growth, serving the public interest, and ultimately building a better working world.

To help accomplish these goals, EY has launched the Sustainable Audit Quality (SAQ) program. Since its launch in 2015, SAQ has embraced new advances in technology, helped to improve project management with the Milestones program, facilitated communications through the EY Canvas Client Portal and introduced the EY Digital Audit.

SAQ focuses on key initiatives across six pillars:

Tone at the top

The internal and external messages sent by EY leadership, including audit partners, that establish and encourage a culture based on a commitment to quality, a dedication to continuous improvement, an emphasis on values, a global mindset and the importance of teaming, setting a clear tone at the top.

Exceptional Talent

Specific initiatives that support EY auditors in performing quality work. This covers recruitment, retention, learning and workload management. It also includes consideration of the type of skills and capabilities needed, both now and in the future.

Audit technology and digital

How the EY Digital Audit is evolving in this Transformative Age to set the standard for the data-first way of approaching an audit, combining leading-edge digital tools, stakeholder focus and a commitment to quality.

Simplification and innovation

How we are simplifying and standardizing the approach used by EY auditors and embracing emerging technologies to improve the quality, consistency and efficiency of the audit. This involves the move to the Digital Global Audit Methodology and the growing use of AI and blockchain.

Enablement and quality support

How EY teams are being helped to manage their responsibility to provide high audit quality. This includes efforts to support them through coaching, root cause analysis, the Milestones project management program and updated quality control standards.


The systems and processes in place to help EY people take responsibility for carrying out high-quality work at all times. This discusses how we measure audit quality, the latest reward and recognition initiatives, the enhanced Accountability Framework and the Global Audit Quality Committee.

Serving the public interest

There are six pillars to the SAQ program, but there is one foundation: the responsibility to serve the public interest. This responsibility underpins each pillar and is fundamental to the EY purpose of building a better working world.

Performing high-quality audits with independence, integrity, objectivity and professional skepticism is at the heart of serving the public interest. It is a vital role that helps to provide trust and confidence in the capital markets.

Serving the public interest is about remembering that EY auditors are here to serve stakeholders who rely on transparent, informative and accurate financial reporting for decision-making.

Investors are not the only stakeholders who depend on high-quality auditing and financial reporting. Employees, pensioners, suppliers and lenders, among others, rely on high-quality audits to make important decisions. These decisions involve who to work for, whether salaries will be paid on time, the safety of investments and with whom to do business.

Driving high-quality audits – sustainably and consistently across the globe – is a key focus area. The EY organization is also preparing for the audit of the future, which will be different to the audit of today. With the pace of change accelerating, it is vital to anticipate those changes.

We will need to continue to equip EY people with the most advanced technology. They will also need new competencies involving technology and analytics, while engagement teams will use specialists more often in areas such as tax, fraud, valuation, cyber and IT. This multidisciplinary model, combined with the application of new technology, will better identify risks and enhance audit quality.

The six pillars and foundation of SAQ will help EY auditors prepare for the audit of the future. There is still more to do, and EY is ready to accept that challenge – and to continue to make the delivery of high-quality audits the top priority.

Download the Global audit quality report 2019


Felice Persico, EY Global Vice Chair – Assurance, says that high-quality audits help to inspire trust and confidence in the capital markets, and must be the organization’s top priority. To help accomplish this, EY launched the Sustainable Audit Quality (SAQ) program in 2015. It has six pillars: tone at the top; exceptional talent; audit technology and digital; simplification and innovation; enablement and quality support; and accountability. SAQ continues to evolve, leveraging new competencies and technological advances to better identify risks and enhance audit quality.