Become a Reviewer

Are you interested in becoming a Peer Reviewer?

It's not unusual for the Society's peer review administrative team to be asked, "How can I become a peer reviewer?" The basic answer is always the same: take the training course. But both technical and non-technical skills are desired in effective peer reviewers. This basic answer fails to emphasize anything beyond the foundation necessary to qualify as a peer reviewer. The success of the peer review program from the perspective of the reviewed firm rests largely on the effectiveness of reviewers. A well-trained reviewer is critical to guiding a reviewed firm through the review process. A reviewer must possess certain minimum qualifications, but skilled reviewers have much more than this. The following gives a brief overview of the basic requirements and a discussion of the non-technical skills.

Regardless of the type of peer review being performed, Engagement or System, a peer reviewer must:

  • Be a member of the AICPA in good standing and licensed to practice as a CPA.
  • Be currently active in public practice at a supervisory level in the accounting or auditing function of a firm enrolled in the program, as a partner of the firm, or as a manager or person with equivalent supervisory responsibilities. To be considered currently active in the accounting or auditing function, a reviewer should be presently involved in the accounting or auditing practice of a firm supervising one or more of the firm’s accounting or auditing engagements or carrying out a quality control function on the firm’s accounting or auditing engagements.
  • Be associated with a firm that has received a report with the peer review rating of Pass for its most recent System or Engagement Review that was accepted timely, ordinarily within the last three years and six months.
  • Possess current knowledge of professional standards applicable to the kind of practice to be reviewed, including quality control and peer review standards.  This includes recent experience in and knowledge about current rules and regulations appropriate to the level of service applicable to the industries of the engagements that the individual will be reviewing. 
  • Have spent the last five years in the practice of public accounting in the accounting or auditing function. 
  • Have provided the administering entity with information that accurately reflects the qualification of the reviewer including recent industry experience, which is updated on a timely basis.
  • Possess specific additional qualifications if the reviewer will review engagements that must be selected in a System Review.
  • Complete the aforementioned training course or, if the training course has previously been completed, complete the advanced reviewer-training course or attend the AICPA's annual Peer Review Program Conference.
  • To be a System Review Team Captain, a reviewer must be a partner in a firm. To be an Engagement Review Captain, it is not necessary to be a partner.

In addition to the peer review-specific training and in order to meet the requirement to possess current knowledge of professional standards applicable to the kind of practice to be reviewed, including quality control and peer review standards, peer reviewers should:

  • Obtain at least 40% of the AICPA required CPE in subjects relating to accounting, auditing, and quality control. Peer reviewers should obtain at least 8 hours in any 1 year and 48 hours every 3 years.

If you are not qualified to be a peer reviewer but are interested in being a Service Organization Control (SOC) Specialist that aids the peer review team with the review of SOC engagements, visit the AICPA's SOC Specialist page.

All of these basic qualifications are addressed in the reviewer training program. The other useful skills are also covered. These generally involve people, synthesizing, teaching, and advanced technical skills. Introverted individuals are usually not the best reviewers. The ability to interact with other professionals and promote an atmosphere of cooperation with the reviewed firm is important. Synthesizing skills primarily refer to one's understanding of the elements of quality control. In a System Peer Review, engagement findings are ordinarily symptoms of underlying quality control system weaknesses. The system reviewer must assemble the review findings and make system-based recommendations for corrective actions to prevent the recurrence of the same types of deficiencies as those identified. The reviewed firm and the peer review program expect the reviewer to identify solutions and suggest methods of implementing beneficial changes. Seasoned and sometimes nearly inflexible firm owners frequently must be convinced that changes are necessary in the firm's operations or its culture. Teaching salty veterans is often a tough task. Again, the reviewer must also have suitable experience in the reviewed firm's areas of concentration, such as an understanding of industry-specific accounting principles or auditing standards. If a reviewed firm has high-risk or complex industries, the reviewer must have clients operating in the same industries.

Further information regarding peer reviewer training can be located here. You are also more than welcome to contact Alan Long, the KyCPA Technical Reviewer at alan.long@baldwincpas.com or Julie Salvaggio at jsalvaggio@kycpa.org.