By Antonina McAvoy, CISA, CISM, QSA, PCIP

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, maintaining robust security and compliance mechanisms is not just a regulatory requirement; it’s a business imperative. Two primary frameworks dominate this landscape: SOC 2 (System and Organization Controls) and PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). However, the market presents a unique challenge: the intersection of firms that can proficiently handle both SOC 2 reports and PCI DSS assessments.

SOC 2: Ensuring Trust and Transparency

SOC 2 reports focus on the internal controls of a service organization related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. Developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), SOC 2 compliance assures customers that their data is being handled in a manner that is consistent with high standards of security and privacy, which has surged in importance post-COVID as more organizations move data platforms to cloud environments. This is crucial for organizations dealing with sensitive information in industries such as healthcare, finance, SaaS based technology platforms, consulting companies, and cloud service providers.

PCI DSS: Safeguarding Payment Card Data

On the other hand, PCI DSS is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all companies that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. This framework is governed by the PCI Security Standards Council and is mandatory for any business that processes card payments. Achieving PCI DSS compliance involves adhering to 12 core requirements covering everything from network security to access control measures.

The Dual Expertise Dilemma

Despite the critical importance of both SOC 2 and PCI DSS, relatively few CPA firms possess the necessary credentials and expertise to deliver both SOC 2 reports and PCI DSS assessments. Here’s why:

  1. Specialized Skill Sets: SOC 2 engagements typically require deep knowledge of IT general controls and a comprehensive understanding of the Trust Services Criteria. On the other hand, PCI DSS assessments necessitate detailed technical know-how about payment card technologies and stringent security standards. Finding a firm that combines both skill sets is challenging.
  2. Qualification Standards: While SOC 2 reports must be prepared by a CPA firm, PCI DSS assessments must be conducted by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). Becoming a QSA involves rigorous training, testing, and adherence to the PCI Security Standards Council’s strict program requirements. Not many CPA firms invest the resources required to obtain and maintain QSA status.
  3. Resource Intensive: Preparing for a SOC 2 examination or a PCI DSS assessment independently is resource-intensive, requiring significant time, effort, and financial investment. When combined, the complexity only multiplies, requiring an exceptional alignment of resources and expertise.

Comprehensive Expertise

For firms that bridge this gap, clients gain significant advantages by leveraging a single provider to ensure compliance across both standards. This unified approach streamlines processes, reduces redundancy, and enhances data security and regulatory adherence.

PBMares stands out with a distinctive blend of services, functioning both as a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firm and an approved Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) firm. This unique positioning offers our clients numerous benefits:

  1. Integrated Financial and Security Assessments
  2. Streamlined Compliance and Risk Management
  3. Enhanced Trust and Credibility
  4. Efficient Resource Utilization
  5. Cost-Effective Solutions

Streamline Your Compliance Journey: PBMares Unites Financial Expertise and Security Excellence

In an increasingly complex regulatory landscape, organizations need CPA firms with dual credentials and multidisciplinary expertise to successfully navigate their compliance journeys.

At PBMares, we offer deep expertise in financial auditing, tax services, and business consulting. Combined with our QSA capabilities, we deliver comprehensive security assessments that not only ensure regulatory compliance but also align with your financial goals. Engaging with PBMares streamlines your experience by providing a one-stop solution for both financial integrity and security compliance. Our partnership prioritizes both aspects, saving you time and reducing the complexity of managing multiple service providers. Contact us today for a seamless integration of financial and security needs, ensuring your organization’s success in a demanding regulatory environment.