Audits. Value-added assessments.
Auditing is an integral part of our corporate governance. Both internal and external auditors are used to provide independent assessments of our operations and internal controls.
Our Internal Audit function comprises a team of around 400 professionals, substantially all of whom are directly involved in auditing activities. The Head of Internal Audit reports directly to the Audit Committee Chair and the Audit Committee directs and oversees the activities of the Internal Audit function.
Internal Audit performs an independent and objective assurance function that is designed to add value to our operations. Using a systematic and disciplined approach, the Internal Audit team evaluates and enhances the effectiveness of our risk management, control and governance processes.
Internal Audit is responsible for carrying out periodic audits in line with the Internal Audit Charter (PDF), which is approved by the Audit Committee and available publicly. It regularly and independently assesses the risk exposure of our various business activities, taking into account industry trends, strategic and organizational decisions, best practice and regulatory matters. Based on the results of its assessment, Internal Audit develops detailed annual audit objectives, defining key risk themes and specifying resource requirements for approval by the Audit Committee.
As part of its efforts to achieve best practice, Internal Audit regularly benchmarks its methods and tools against those of its peers. In addition, it submits periodic internal reports and summaries thereof to the management teams as well as the Chairman and the Audit Committee Chair. The Head of Internal Audit reports to the Audit Committee at least quarterly and more frequently as appropriate. Internal Audit coordinates its operations with the activities of the external auditor for maximum effect.
The Audit Committee annually assesses the performance and effectiveness of the Internal Audit function. For 2021, the Audit Committee concluded that the Internal Audit function was effective and independent, with the appropriate resources to deliver against the Internal Audit Charter (PDF).
External audit forms an integral part of the Group’s corporate governance framework and plays a key role by providing an independent assessment of our operations and internal controls. The Group retains a single global audit firm as its principal external auditor to perform both the statutory (financial) audit and the regulatory audit work mandated by FINMA. The AGM elects the statutory auditor annually, while the Board is responsible for the appointment of the regulatory auditor. Our principal external auditor is PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, Zurich, Switzerland. The mandate was first given to PwC for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2020. The Group is not subject to mandatory external audit firm rotation requirements; however, the lead audit partners are subject to periodic rotation requirements. Audit partner rotation is key to ensuring the highest level of audit quality.
In addition, we have mandated BDO AG, Fabrikstrasse 50, 8031 Zurich, Switzerland, as special auditor for the purposes of issuing the legally required report for capital increases in accordance with Article 652f of the Swiss Code of Obligations, mainly relating to the valuation of companies in consideration of the qualified capital increases involving contributions in kind.
The Audit Committee is responsible for the oversight of the external auditor. The external auditor reports directly to the Audit Committee and the Board with respect to its audit of the Group’s financial statements and is ultimately accountable to the shareholders. The Audit Committee pre-approves the retention of, and fees paid to, the external auditor for all audit and non-audit services.
The Audit Committee monitors and pre-approves the fees to be paid to the principal external auditor for its services. It has developed and approved a policy on the engagement of public accounting firms that is designed to help ensure that the independence of the external auditor is maintained at all times.
The policy limits the scope of services that the principal external auditor may provide to us or any of our subsidiaries in connection with its audit and stipulates certain permissible types of non-audit services, including audit-related services and tax services that have been pre-approved by the Audit Committee. The principal external auditor is required to report periodically to the Audit Committee about the scope of the services it has provided and the fees for the services it has performed to date. The principal external auditor also provides a report as to its independence to the Audit Committee at least once a year. In accordance with our pre-approval policy and as in prior years, all non-audit services provided in 2021 were pre-approved.
The principal external auditor attends all meetings of the Audit Committee and reports on the findings of its audit and/or interim review work. The Audit Committee reviews the principal external auditor’s audit plan on an annual basis and evaluates the performance of the principal external auditor and its senior representatives in fulfilling their responsibilities. Moreover, the Audit Committee recommends to the Board the appointment or replacement of the principal external auditor, subject to shareholder approval as required by Swiss law.
Fees paid to external auditors
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