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Navigating the future of Third-Party Assurance (TPA) Reporting: trust in an evolving landscape

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, where risks span diverse domains and technological advancements reshape industries, the role of Third-Party Assurance (TPA) reporting has taken centre stage. Our recent insightful survey delves into the pivotal themes shaping the future of TPA reporting, illuminating key trends that underscore its significance. This blog summarises the findings of the survey. With organisations embarking on digital journeys, this blog further examines the imperative for control environments to align with digital transformations. It also delves into the power of integrated monitoring tools, emphasising their role in orchestrating real-time assurance.

Exploring emerging needs, the survey report highlights the criticality of TPA in fostering trust and transparency, particularly in cybersecurity, privacy, and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) domains. It underscores the dynamic nature of TPA's purpose, value, and relevance, revealing the varying perspectives held by users and service organisations.

The following are key themes driving the evolution of TPA reporting and they shed light on the critical elements shaping TPA reporting’s future.

Emerging needs for TPA reporting: anchoring trust in a dynamic environment

Within this evolving landscape, cybersecurity emerges as a commanding trend, demanding robust TPA support to foster trust and transparency. Alongside cybersecurity, the pivotal themes of privacy and ESG concerns command attention. Consequently, organisations are finding themselves in need of novel forms of TPA that cater for these multifaceted dimensions. This has given rise to innovative frameworks and approaches, with SOC2+ taking centre stage as a unifying reporting mechanism, consolidating diverse assurance requirements into a comprehensive report.

Purpose, relevance, and value: a diverse spectrum of perspectives

The multifarious nature of TPA reporting's purpose and value becomes apparent when considering the diverse perspectives of users and service organisations. The varying viewpoints stem from factors such as the clarity in scope and coverage, as well as the implications of control deviations. This underscores the necessity for TPA reports to remain dynamic, perpetually evaluated to align with the ever-evolving needs of stakeholders in an expanding risk universe.

Navigating the digital journey: aligning control environments with transformation

As organisations embark on digital transformations, their control environments are compelled to adapt in tandem. However, a disparity often emerges, with control environments lagging behind the pace of digital evolution. This discrepancy emphasises the need for seamless integration between digital strategies and control mechanisms to ensure comprehensive risk management.

Harnessing integrated monitoring tools: orchestrating Assurance in real time

The ascent of integrated monitoring tools, exemplified by Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) platforms, heralds a new era of risk management. These tools serve as orchestrators, interlinked with diverse business applications, and expedite the flow of timely information. While automation through these tools promises increased efficiency, its successful implementation necessitates a cultural shift, highlighting the intricate interplay between technology and human practices.

Monitoring activities: pioneering a holistic approach

Amid the prevalent reliance on TPA reports and publicly available data for third-party monitoring, an essential question emerges: Are these measures sufficient to address the risks posed by outsourced custody of critical business operations and customer data? The answer is a resounding no. For robust risk mitigation, organisations must extend their monitoring purview to encompass not only third parties but also delve into the realm of fourth parties and beyond, thereby ensuring a holistic oversight of the outsourced ecosystem.

Charting the path forward: automation and collaboration

As the future of TPA reporting unfolds, it is apparent that a paradigm shift towards automation is imperative to expedite information flow and enhance monitoring effectiveness. Simultaneously, fostering collaboration across organisations and their extended ecosystems is fundamental to fortifying the pillars of trust and transparency that TPA reporting seeks to establish.

In conclusion, the landscape of TPA reporting is undergoing a profound transformation, propelled by the exigencies of an evolving risk universe and the dynamic demands of modern business ecosystems. Navigating this landscape requires a proactive approach that embraces innovation, integration, and a holistic understanding of risks. As organisations embark on this journey, TPA reporting will continue to be a linchpin in the pursuit of trust, transparency, and resilient risk management.

To read the full survey report, click here.