Frequently asked questions

Practitioner

Why should I offer WebTrust?

WebTrust is a strategic opportunity for the practitioner to extend his/her service offering to existing and potential new clients. Gaining the Internet and computer-based competencies necessary to offer WebTrust also gives CPAs a technological foundation to support a wide range of other technology-based client services. WebTrust services will soon be expanded to several related areas such as ISP's and Business to Business e-commerce.

This service will position a firm for the myriad of opportunities that are emerging with the rapid changes in technology, as well as afford some protection from the erosion of other more traditional service lines.

Must I obtain a license before offering the WebTrust Service?

Practitioners can consider offering the Trust Services under the following delivery models:

•  Advisory / Consultative Services covering strategic reviews, diagnostic assessments on the design, implementation, integration aspects of the client's operations systems and monitoring procedures.

•  Assurance Services covering Audit/Examination Level Assurance, Review Level Engagements and Agreed Upon Procedures Engagements and issuance of WebTrust Seals.

Licensing will only be required for practitioners members offering the assurance services mentioned above. The license will also allow the practitioner to use the Trust Services Marks, including ¡§WebTrust™¡¨ and ¡§SysTrust™¡¨, and/or issue seals in their service offerings; and include the advertising rights.

Licensing will not be required if practitioners do not plan to offer services involving the use of Trust Services Marks nor issue seals in their Trust Services offerings. Accordingly any advertising and marketing activities involving the use of the Trust Services Marks will be prohibited.

How do I begin offering WebTrust?

The WebTrust Seal is licensed to CPA and CA members of the HKICPA, CICA, AICPA or, in the case of other national accounting organizations, those countries that have entered into an agreement to offer WebTrust with the AICPA/CICA. Any member in good standing is eligible to offer the WebTrust service. To maintain the Seal's quality and meet the goal of building public confidence in Web commerce, members will be required to sign a licensing agreement that prescribes some readily attainable requirements necessary for the program's success. These include: agreeing to follow the program's professional standards which were developed by a joint AICPA/CICA task force; taking the required course on the WebTrust Principles where appropriate; and participating in a professional oversight program.

What competencies are required to offer WebTrust?

Most of the WebTrust service is based on expertise that CPAs who provide attest/assurance services in computerized environments already possess. Additional skills, which can be readily attained, include the following: 1) a working knowledge of Internet technologies, protocols, and security techniques, and 2) knowledge of specific controls and best practices a company should implement.

Are there any costs incurred to offer WebTrust?

Yes. Costs that the practitioner will incur include the following:

Licensing fee. This fee will be used to provide ongoing advertising and marketing for the program. The licensing fee is a sliding-scale fee based on the gross revenues of the accounting firm.
 
Per seal charges. These fees are necessary for maintenance and security of the Seal itself. The per-seal charges are annual fees and can be paid either quarterly or annually.

What are the professional liability and risk management considerations related to WebTrust?

Each practitioner needs to evaluate this service opportunity in accordance with the firm's own professional liability and risk management policies.

Does my Professional Indemnity Insurance cover WebTrust?

WebTrust is included in the basic coverage of the HKICPA master policy of Professional Indemnity Insurance. However, CPAs are advised to speak with their brokers or insurance carriers to clarify their coverage for this service.

Does my own site need to receive a WebTrust Seal?

Not necessarily. However, it is a good idea for CPAs offering the WebTrust and conducting on-line business to demonstrate to clients and the public that their own Web sites comply with the WebTrust Principles. The Seal is awarded to those Web sites that meet the requirements and transact business on-line. An independent third party will need to perform the procedures for issuance of the seal to the CPA firm.

How often must I test clients' Web sites to ensure compliance with WebTrust?

As with all engagements, professional judgment must be exercised. Considerations include: terms of the engagement, type of Web site, report content, changes which may affect the control environment, and other matters which may come to the practitioner's attention. However, at a minimum, the Seal must be refreshed at least every twelve months.

Can my right to provide the Seal be revoked?

Yes. The primary goal of WebTrust is to instill public confidence in the Web as an electronic commerce medium. This requires all CPAs to be in full compliance with WebTrust principles and other requirements of the license agreement. CPAs who fail to comply can forfeit their right to offer WebTrust assurance service.

How do I control the client's use of my Seal?

Under the WebTrust principles, CPAs are required to revoke the Seals of Web sites that fall out of compliance with the standards. As the issuer of the seal, the CPA will have the ability to electronically revoke the seal should the client fall out of compliance with the WebTrust Principles and Criteria or misuse the WebTrust seal.