Peer Review Process
All enrolled firms will utilize PRIMA, a web-based platform created by the AICPA, to complete various steps within the peer review process. The use of PRIMA is required for both AICPA member and non-member firms enrolled in the program. This includes firm enrollment, review scheduling, responding to matters and findings identified during the peer review, and completion of corrective actions. For more information on PRIMA, including training videos specific to enrolled firms, please visit the AICPA's PRIMA web page
All firms who wish to undergo a peer review must first enroll in a peer review program using PRIMA. After a firm's enrollment information has been received, a due date for the firm's initial review is assigned. Generally, the due date for the firm's first review is 18 months from the date of enrollment or the date they should have enrolled.
Approximately 6 to 7 months before a firm's review due date, the firm will receive a notification via email with instructions on submitting the information required for scheduling reviews using the online PRIMA system. This information must be completed by the firm in PRIMA to schedule a review. To comply with the scheduled due date, the review should be scheduled early enough so that all documents are received by the FICPA Peer Review Department prior to the scheduled due date.
It is the firm's responsibility to choose its own reviewer. The review should not commence until the firm has received notification that the reviewer has been approved to perform the review.
Selecting a Review Team
One of the most important decisions you will make will be to choose the review team that will best accommodate your firm's needs. After choosing a qualified firm, you will need to discuss fees with your reviewer. Actual reviewer time and fees may differ. The time required to perform a review depends on the number of accounting and auditing hours of the firm, peer review risk, the number of professionals, and the firm's degree of compliance with its quality control procedures. When engaging a reviewer to conduct a review, please note that your chosen reviewer(s) must have current knowledge in the areas and industries in which your firm practices (as selected by you on the PRI in PRIMA) in order to qualify to perform your firm’s review.
Information on how to hire a quality peer review and questions to consider when selecting a reviewer can be obtained here:
How to Hire a Quality Peer Reviewer.pdf
Questions to Consider When Vetting Prospective Peer Reviewers
The AICPA also maintains a nationwide online reviewer search that you can access here. Reviewer Search. For FAQ and more information, see https://prima.aicpa.org.
There are two types of peer reviews. Firms that perform audits and/or examinations level attestation engagements must undergo a system review. Firms that perform reviews or compilations are eligible for an engagement review but may opt to have a system review.
In a system review, the peer reviewer tests all elements of the firm's quality control system (Leadership Responsibilities for Quality Within the Firm, Relevant Ethical Requirements, Acceptance and Continuance of Client Relationships and Specific Engagements; Human Resources; Engagement Performance; and Monitoring), including a representative sample of the firm's engagements, and issues an opinion regarding the design of and firm's compliance with its quality control system. Findings, if any, are written from a system perspective and may include reviewer recommendations and a firm response.
In an engagement review, the peer reviewer tests a limited number of engagements based on specific selection guidelines and reports all noted departures from professional standards. Findings, if any, are written from an engagement perspective and may include reviewer recommendations and a firm response.
The peer review year end should be a period of one year that is mutually agreed upon by the reviewed firm and the team/review captain. Ordinarily, review year-ends are within three to five months of the peer review. Engagements selected should have periods ending during the year under review. Subsequent peer reviews will maintain the established year end.
After the Review
Once the reviewer has completed the review and all materials have been submitted to the administering entity, the working papers will go through an administrative and technical review. The administrative review ensures all required documents from the reviewer are received and complete. During the technical review, the working papers submitted by the reviewer are evaluated to determine whether the review has been conducted in accordance with the Standards and whether the firm has responded to any matters, findings, deficiencies or significant deficiencies in an appropriate manner.
Review Evaluation, Acceptance, and Completion
Upon completion of the technical review, reviews are presented for consideration of acceptance to the Peer Review Committee’s Report Acceptance Body (RAB), to consider for acceptance. Peer reviews are presented ordinarily to the RAB within 120 days after working papers are received by the administering entity.