Thank you, Ken and John.
When the Board first engaged in public outreach in connection with drafting our strategic plan, we heard loud and clear the need to significantly expand and improve our stakeholder engagement. At that time, the Board’s outreach strategy was confined almost exclusively to its two advisory groups. But, as their names implied, they were also the primary means of obtaining outside advice. Many noted, however, despite the expertise and stature of the participants, the structure effectively conflated the distinct functions of outreach and expert advice and, consequently produced neither very effectively. Therefore, we concluded that the historical model was outdated and would not serve either us or our stakeholders well going forward. So, we determined to separate the Board’s outreach from its efforts to receive advice, and to expand and improve how the Board did both.
I’m extremely pleased with the progress we have made since 2018 to improve the Board’s outreach. By making outreach an area of consistent strategic focus, we have exponentially expanded our reach outside the PCAOB and access to it. We have reached far more stakeholders far more often than we have ever in our history, and we have reached them more effectively. We hired our first-ever stakeholder liaison in 2019. Her name is Erin Dwyer, and for those who may be listening today, she is your first point of contact if you are looking to reach out to us. For the last several years, she has been actively engaged with hundreds of investors, audit committees, preparers, and others. As Board members, we have participated in dozens of external events tailored specifically to investors, audit committees, preparers, and others. We have held our own PCAOB-sponsored roundtables, both in person and virtually. In 2020 alone, we connected with investors in one-on-one meetings and at roundtables that, collectively among them, maintained more than $26 trillion in assets under management. Since 2019, we have reached out to and engaged with nearly 700 audit committee chairs and engaged with them in one-on-one discussions that have addressed topics ranging from PCAOB inspections and standards to audit committee efforts to oversee their audit firms, COVID-19, Audit Quality Indicators, and data and technology.
These efforts have yielded frequent and consistent dialogues and have allowed us to exchange perspectives on topics of mutual interest. We have learned much from these interactions and have made responsive changes to our oversight work as a result. As just one example, many of the changes we made to the structure and content of our inspection reports flowed directly from these conversations. We plan to continue to emphasize and expand our outreach efforts in the coming months and years.
When we decided to reimagine how we obtained formal advice from stakeholders, we determined to find an approach that the Board could support unanimously and that would improve the depth and quality of the advice we received. I’m pleased that we have now arrived at that point. This new advisory group will allow the Board to obtain advice on important issues related to existing or future PCAOB standards. We will provide the new group ample time and support to develop in-depth advice and perspectives on assigned topics. The group will have the ability to report its perspectives and share its advice with both the Board and the public. The group will have diverse membership and experience and will include representatives from each of our core stakeholder groups, including primarily investors, as well as audit committee members and directors, financial statement preparers, academics and other experts, and audit professionals. Of critical importance, we will have more investor voices in the group than from any other category and we encourage our investor participants to be actively involved in all tasks.
We look forward to announcing soon our call for nominations and to selecting members from the outstanding nominations we will no doubt receive. Once the Board has selected our members, we expect to assign immediately one or more tasks to them.
We acknowledge and recognize the substantial efforts of those who served previously on our advisory groups. Their contributions were an important part of advancing our mission to protect investors and further the public interest in the preparation of informative, accurate, and independent audit reports. To those who will serve as members of our new Standards Advisory Group, we look forward to meeting you and working with you.
If you haven’t discerned by now, I fully support the recommendation before us and now I’ll turn to my colleagues for any statements they may wish to make.