He takes over from Jim Doty who has chaired the US audit regulator since 2011.
After serving with the US Navy’s Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron, in 1995 Duhnke joined the personal office of Richard Shelby, the Republican senator for Alabama. Since then he has worked as staff director and general counsel on a number of Senate committees that Shelby has chaired. They include the committee on banking, housing and urban affairs (twice) and, most recently, the committee on rules and administration.
Commenting on his appointment to the PCAOB, which was announced in December, Shelby said that he was an excellent choice. “His intellect and experience ensure his future success in this role.
“I have relied on Bill’s professional advice and leadership for 20 years, and I know he will be an asset as the board works to improve audit quality and promote public trust.”
At the SEC ceremony yesterday, Duhnke said that he was pleased to be leading the PCAOB’s mission to protect investors and promote public trust in quality audits of US-listed companies.
“I look forward to developing a collaborative and consensus-based approach to PCAOB’s programs and operations and advancing sustainable audit quality that benefits the capital markets,” he said.
His first move as chairman was to appoint Francis “Abe” Dymond, special counsel to outgoing board member Jeanette Franzel, as PCAOB chief of staff.
He said that the new board would benefit from Dymond’s background in management, legal practice, government service and the assurance profession.
Dymond will also provide continuity as the PCAOB faces an entirely new set of board members over the coming months. Franzel has also agreed to remain on the board until they are all in place.
The first of the new team, Kathleen Hamm, was sworn in at the same time as Duhnke but the other three will arrive shortly, the PCAOB says.
Hamm, a securities lawyer by training who started her career with the SEC, comes from consulting firm Promontory Financial Group where she was global leader of securities and fintech services and senior adviser to the chief executive on cyber solutions.
She sees audit quality as vital to the effective operation of the capital markets and key to investor protection.
Neither she nor Duhnke have experience in auditing. However, they will be helped by fellow new board members James Kaiser and Duane DesParte.
Kaiser is currently partner and global assurance methodology and transformation leader at PwC, and DesParte, who is senior vice president and corporate controller of Exelon Corporation, started out his career at Arthur Andersen before becoming an audit partner at Deloitte.
The fifth board member is Robert Brown, a law professor at the University of Denver.
SEC chairman Jay Clayton and chief accountant Wes Bricker took advantage of the swearing in ceremony not only to congratulate the new PCAOB team but also to thank Doty and outgoing board members Steve Harris and Lew Ferguson for their “unwavering commitment” to the PCAOB and audit quality.
They had been “fabulous public servants” and had overseen major positive developments, including the recently adopted extended auditor reporting model.
Both the PCAOB and investors were “better off for their service”, they added.