The Audit Committee is established by the Board of Directors (the “Board”) to review, monitor, and, as appropriate, report and make recommendations to the Board with respect to, matters related to (1) the integrity of the financial statements of the Company, (2) the independent auditor’s qualifications and independence, (3) the performance of the Company’s internal audit function and independent auditors, and (4) the compliance by the Company with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
The Committee shall consist of no fewer than three members. All Committee members shall meet the independence and experience requirements of the New York Stock Exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Company’s Governance Principles as determined by the Board. All members shall be financially literate as determined by the Board and at least one member shall be identified by the Board as an “audit committee financial expert” as defined by the SEC.
Committee Authority and Responsibilities
The Committee shall have the authority to adopt and amend from time to time Procedures, which shall be consistent with this Charter, specifying details with respect to performance of its responsibilities under this Charter.
The Committee shall meet at such times as deemed necessary by the Chair of the Committee and in accordance with the Procedures established by the Committee. The Audit Committee shall make regular reports to the Board.
The Committee shall have the sole authority to appoint, evaluate and if necessary replace the independent auditor, and shall pre-approve all audit engagement fees and terms and all non-audit service engagements with the independent auditor.
The Committee shall have the authority, to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate to carry out its duties, to retain independent counsel and other advisers. The Company shall provide for appropriate funding, as determined by the Committee, for payment of compensation to the independent auditor for the purpose of rendering or issuing an audit report and to any advisors employed by the Committee, and for payment of ordinary administrative expenses of the Committee that are necessary or appropriate in carrying out its duties.
The Committee shall meet with management, the internal auditors and the independent auditor in separate executive sessions periodically.
The Committee shall have the following authority and responsibilities:
Financial Statement and Disclosure Matters
1. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the annual audited financial statements and Forms 10-K and quarterly financial statements and Forms 10-Q, including disclosures made in management’s discussion and analysis and all matters required to be reviewed under applicable legal, regulatory and New York Stock Exchange requirements, and recommend to the Board whether the annual audited financial statements should be included in the Company’s Form 10-K.
2. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor any major issues as to the adequacy of the Company’s internal controls, any special steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies and the adequacy of disclosures about changes in internal control over financial reporting. In addition, discuss with the Company’s CEO and CFO all significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls which could adversely affect the Company’s ability to record, process, summarize and report financial data, and any fraud, whether or not material, that involves management or other employees who have a significant role in the Company’s internal controls.
3. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the Company’s internal controls report and the independent auditor’s audit of the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting prior to the filing of the Company’s Form 10-K.
4. Prepare the report required by the rules of the SEC to be included in the Company’s annual proxy statement.
5. Discuss with management the Company’s earnings press releases as well as financial information and earnings guidance provided to analysts and rating agencies.
6. Discuss with management and the independent auditor any difficulties encountered in the course of the audit work, including any restrictions on the scope of activities or access to requested information, and any significant disagreements with management.
Risk Assessment and Management
7. Discuss with management the process by which the Company’s risk assessment and risk management policies are managed and assessed, including enterprise risk management.
8. Discuss with management the Company’s major financial risk exposures and the steps management has taken to monitor and control such exposures.
9. Discuss with management the performance of the Company’s pension plans and risks relating to those plans.
10. Oversee management of such risks as may be assigned periodically to the Committee by the Board as a result of the Enterprise Risk Management process or otherwise.
Oversight of the Company’s Relationship with the Independent Auditor
11. Obtain and review a report from the independent auditor at least annually regarding (a) the auditor’s internal quality-control procedures, (b) any material issues raised by the most recent quality-control review, or peer review, of the firm, or any material issues raised by any inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities within the preceding five years respecting one or more independent audits carried out by the firm, and any steps taken to deal with any such issues, and (c) all relationships between the independent auditor and the Company.
12. Evaluate the qualifications, performance and independence of the independent auditor, including considering whether the auditor’s quality controls are adequate and the provision of non-audit services is compatible with maintaining the auditor’s independence, and taking into account the opinions of management. The Committee shall present its conclusions to the Board and, if so determined by the Committee, recommend that the Board take additional action to satisfy itself of the qualifications, performance and independence of the auditor.
13. Set policies for the hiring of employees or former employees of the independent auditor consistent with applicable SEC regulations and other regulatory requirements.
Oversight of the Company’s Internal Audit Function
14. Review the appointment and replacement of the senior internal auditing executive or, in the event that the internal audit function is provided by an outside vendor, the firm providing internal audit services.
15. Review the significant reports to management prepared by the internal auditing function and management’s responses.
Compliance Oversight Responsibilities
16. Obtain from the independent auditor assurance that it has complied with Section 10A(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which imposes certain requirements on the independent auditor to notify the Committee of potentially illegal acts and on the Committee to respond to any such notice.
17. Establish and periodically review procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters and the confidential, anonymous submission by Company employees of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.
18. Review any matters relating to the integrity of management, including conflicts of interest, and adherence to the Company’s Code of Conduct. In connection with these reviews, the Committee will meet, as appropriate, with the Company’s General Counsel and other Company officers and employees.
19. Review, assess the appropriateness of, and approve the Company’s election of the end-user exception from clearing and trade execution for swaps and security-based swaps on an annual basis.
20. Review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter annually and recommend any proposed changes to the Board for approval.
21. Review and assess annually the Committee’s own performance of the duties specified in this Charter and report its findings to the Board.
Limitation of Audit Committee’s Role
While the Committee has the responsibilities and powers set forth in this Charter, it is not the duty of the Committee to plan or conduct audits or to determine that the Company’s financial statements and disclosures are complete and accurate and are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and applicable rules and regulations. These are the responsibilities of management and the independent auditor.