HA&W ComplianceSuccess Program Partners with AICPA to Develop ALTA Best Practices Reporting Standards

April 30, 2015

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) issued guidelines for CPAs who perform attestation and compliance reporting services to verify if a title and settlement professional complies with ALTA's Best Practices Framework.

AICPA's guidance provides details of the standards that must be followed by CPAs performing work in these areas. The guidance addresses “the types of engagements a practitioner may perform, the applicability to an attest engagement, the sustainability of criteria, the nature of examination or review procedures and the form and content of the report.”

“The AICPA’s guidance will provide a uniform reporting framework for the CPA community to ensure that all CPAs perform ALTA Best Practices compliance testing and reporting in the same manner and in accordance with AICPA professional standards,” said Kim McConkey, partner-in-charge of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne’s (HA&W) ComplianceSuccess Program.

The guidance issued by the AICPA has received national support.

“AICPA has taken an important step in developing guidance in support of ALTA’s Best Practices,” said John Hollenbeck, executive vice president, First American Title Insurance Company. “This guidance benefits title agencies by encouraging the development of a broader market for CPA examination or review engagements.”

Erika Meinhardt, president of National Agency Operations for Fidelity National Title Group, added “We are pleased to see the CPA community providing professional standards that can be relied upon by mortgage lenders for compliance and testing of the ALTA Best Practices. By engaging a CPA directly, agents can ensure independence of the assessment relationship and process, which is important to many lenders.”

For over a year, HA&W’s ComplianceSuccess Program has partnered with ALTA and the AICPA to develop ALTA Best Practices reporting guidelines to provide the industry independent and objective third-party standards for CPAs reporting on the framework.

In 2012, ALTA stepped into the forefront and established Best Practices for the industry and developed a third-party compliance reporting package that title and settlement professionals could provide to their lender clients to demonstrate that they were ALTA Best Practices compliant.

A self-assessment and certification package is available on the ALTA website that can be completed by any third party, but is not backed by professional standards.  HA&W recognized the need for more stringent standards around testing and reporting on ALTA Best Practices and took their concerns to ALTA and the AICPA. 

Since early 2014, HA&W has collaborated with ALTA and the AICPA to develop reporting standards that must be followed by CPAs performing compliance testing and reporting to give assurance on compliance with the ALTA Best Practices Framework, including reports with varying levels of assurance depending on the lender’s risk management policies. 

"HA&W's early engagement was valuable in helping ALTA and the AICPA develop guidance for CPAs that conduct third-party assessments of title companies for compliance with the ALTA Best Practices,” said Michelle Korsmo, CEO of ALTA. “ALTA will continue to work with the lending community as it adopts the ALTA Best Practices as the industry’s compliance standard and make it part of title and settlement compliance management programs.”

HA&W’s ComplianceSuccess Program, an ALTA Elite Provider, is committed to providing title and settlement professionals with the highest levels of assurance and being backed by professional standards assures that title and settlement professionals receive the reports their lenders require.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.