Audit Committee Purpose
The Audit Committee is appointed by the Board of Directors to assist the
Board in monitoring:
(1) the internal control over financial reporting of Commerce Bancshares, Inc. (the "Company") and the audits of its financial statements;
(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 legal and regulatory requirements.
The Audit Committee shall prepare the report required by the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "Commission") to be included in the Company's annual proxy statements.
The Audit Committee shall consist of no fewer than three members. The members of the Audit Committee shall meet the independence and experience requirements of Section 10A(m)(3) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act"), Nasdaq and the rules and regulations of the Commission. Audit Committee members must be able to read and understand financial statements at the time of their appointment. At least one member of the Audit Committee shall be an "audit committee financial expert" as defined by the Commission. The members of the Audit Committee shall be appointed by the Board on the recommendation of the Committee on Governance/Directors. Audit Committee members may be replaced by the Board.
The Audit Committee shall meet as often as it determines, but not less frequently than quarterly. The Audit Committee shall meet periodically with management, the internal auditors and the independent auditor in separate executive sessions. The Audit Committee may request any officer or employee of the Company or the Company's outside counsel or independent auditor to attend a meeting of the Committee or to meet with any members of, or consultants to, the Committee.
Committee Authority and Responsibilities
The Audit Committee shall have the sole authority to appoint or replace the independent auditor. The Audit Committee shall be directly responsible for the compensation and oversight of the work of the independent auditor (including resolution of disagreements between management and the independent auditor regarding financial reporting) for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or related work. The independent auditor shall report directly to the Audit Committee.
The Audit Committee shall pre-approve all auditing services and permitted non-audit services, as outlined in its established policy, (including the fees and terms thereof) to be performed for the Company by its independent auditor, subject to the de minimus exceptions for non-audit services described in Section 10A(i)(1)(B) of the Exchange Act, which are approved by the Audit Committee prior to the completion of the audit.
The Audit Committee shall have the authority, to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate, to retain independent legal, accounting or other advisors. The Company shall provide for appropriate funding, as determined by the Audit 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 Audit Committee.
The Audit Committee shall make regular reports to the Board. The Audit Committee shall review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter annually and recommend any proposed changes to the Board for approval.
The Audit Committee, to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate, shall:
Financial Statement and Disclosure Matters
1. Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the annual audited financial statements, including disclosures made in management's discussion and analysis, and recommend to the Board whether the audited financial statements should be included in the Company's Form 10-K.
2. Discuss with management and the independent auditor the Company's quarterly financial statements prior to the filing of its Form 10-Q, including the results of the independent auditor's review of the quarterly financial statements.
3. Discuss with management and the independent auditor significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the Company's financial statements, including any significant changes in the Company's selection or application of accounting principles, any major issues as to the adequacy of the Company's internal controls and any special steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies.
4. Review and discuss annually reports from the independent auditors on:
(a) All critical accounting policies and practices to be used.
(b) All alternative treatments of financial information within generally accepted accounting principles that have been discussed with management, ramifications of the use of such alternative disclosures and treatments, and the treatment preferred by the independent auditor.
(c) Other material written communications between the independent auditor and management, such as any management letter or schedule of unadjusted differences.
5. Discuss with management and the independent auditor the effect of regulatory and accounting initiatives as well as off-balance sheet structures on the Company's financial statements.
6. Discuss with the independent auditor the matters required to be discussed by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 61 relating to the conduct of the audit, including any difficulties encountered in the course of the audit work, any restrictions on the scope of activities or access to requested information, and any significant disagreements with management.
7. Review disclosures made to the Audit Committee by the Company's CEO and CFO during their certification process for the Form 10-K and Form 10-Q about any significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal control over financial reporting or material weaknesses therein and any fraud involving management or other employees who have a significant role in the Company's internal control over financial reporting.
8. Review and approve all related party transactions.
Oversight of the Company's Relationship with the Independent Auditor
9. Ensure the rotation of the lead (or coordinating) audit partner having primary responsibility for the audit and the audit partner responsible for reviewing the audit as required by law.
10. Meet with the independent auditor prior to the audit to discuss the planning and staffing of the audit.
11. The independent auditor shall submit to the audit committee annually a formal written statement delineating all relationships between the independent auditor and the Company ("Statement as to Independence"), addressing each non-audit service provided to the Company and at least the matters set forth in Independence Standards Board No. 1.
Oversight of the Company's Internal Audit Function
12. Review the appointment and replacement of the internal audit director.
13. Review the significant reports to management prepared by the internal audit department together with management's responses and follow-up to these reports.
14. Discuss with the independent auditor and management internal audit department responsibilities, budget, qualifications and staffing and any recommended changes in the planned scope of the internal audit department.
15. Review for completion of annual regulatory requirements such as FDICIA , 12 CFR 9 (trust audits), corporate insurance coverage, and business continuity.
Compliance Oversight Responsibilities
16. Obtain from the independent auditor assurance that Section 10A(b) of the Exchange Act (communication of illegal acts) has not been implicated.
17. Obtain reports from management, the Company's internal audit director and the independent auditor that the Company is in conformity with applicable legal requirements and the Company's Code of Ethics. Review reports and disclosures of insider and affiliated party transactions. Advise the Board with respect to the Company's policies and procedures regarding compliance with applicable laws and regulations and with the Company's Code of Ethics.
18. Obtain reports from management relating to issues resulting from 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 employees of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.
19. Discuss with management and the independent auditor any correspondence with regulators or governmental agencies and any published reports, which raise material issues regarding the Company's financial statements or accounting policies.
20. Discuss with the Company's General Counsel legal matters that may have a material impact on the financial statements or the Company's compliance policies.
Limitation of Audit Committee's Role
While the Audit Committee has the responsibilities and powers set forth in this Charter, it is not the duty of the Audit Committee to plan or conduct audits or to determine that the Company's internal control over financial reporting is effective or that its 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.