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IASB Chair addresses WSS meeting

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27 Sep 2021

IASB Chair Andreas Barckow today delivered his inaugural speech at the World Standard Setters (WSS) conference that is currently being held in a virtual format. His key topics were his first impressions in his new role as IASB Chair, the IASB's agenda for the coming years, and the relationship between the IASB and national standard setters.

Mr Barckow, who is the former president of the German standard setter ASCG, noted that his previous role had prepared him well for the new job as "technical issues are technical issues, wherever you sit". However, he also noted that working for a global standard setter means building consensus and creating standards that work globally, which would be more difficult given the wider variety of economic backgrounds and reporting challenges. Concluding his remarks on his experience in his new role, Mr Barckow noted that as IASB Chair he would surely want to "make my mark, set out my ideas and pursue my priorities", but he noted that given the enduring pandemic and its consequences on everybody's lives he counted as one of the first big successes of his chairmanship that the changeover from his predecessor Hans Hoogervorst has been effective, seamless and quiet.

Mr Barckow then turned to the IASB's agenda for the coming years and in this context noted the IASB agenda consultation and consultations and changes in general, the interaction with the new possible sister board ISSB, and intangibles. On the agenda consultation, he noted, while the Board was seeking feedback on areas of focus, on criteria for new projects and on possible new projects themselves, the IASB has an ongoing work plan based on feedback to the previous agenda consultation and also needs to allocate resources to undertake post-implementation reviews of major standards. Mr Barckow also noted that the IASB has to be mindful of how many consultations and how much change it imposes on stakeholders.

Working with a sister board, the proposed International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) would also require resources, as Mr Barckow explained. The necessary connectivity and joined-up standard-setting would mean that each Board commits resources and at the same time benefits from the other Board’s expertise and resources while while acknowledging each other’s independence.Mr Barckow stressed that working together and developing requirements from joint principles and concepts was, in fact, one of the key selling points for having both Boards in the same organisation.

Turning to intangibles, Mr Barckow noted that IAS 38 Intangible Assets is more than 20 years old and has never been revisited other than for consequential changes resulting from other projects while the significance of intangibles, especially self-generated intangibles, has increased substantially over the last two decades. Therefore, he stated, he would like the IASB to explore what can be done to increase transparency in this area.

Concluding his speech, Mr Barckow commented on the relationship between the IASB and national standard setters. He noted that as a result of his previous role as national standard setter he could step back and look at the IASB’s work from the perspective of a national standard setter and to identify what is working well and where the IASB can get better. And he had learned in recent years what national standard setters are able to do. Mr Barckow mentioned the many examples of excellent research and outreach by national standard setters he had seen and that he was keen to explore whether the IASB can tap into those capabilities even more. He noted:

National standard-setters are essentially the eyes and ears of the IASB. They also have valuable expertise. You will always be closer to local stakeholders, especially investors, than the IASB can ever be, no matter how much outreach we do. Furthermore, you are more likely to see issues arising in your jurisdiction far sooner and help us to resolve them before they boil up in other jurisdictions as well. You provide a very helpful interface when it comes to the IASB liaising with stakeholders from your jurisdiction — whether in conducting outreach, addressing agenda item requests that have come to the IFRS Interpretations Committee or developing educational material, to name but a few.

And this was, Mr Barckow concluded, why the relationship with national standard setters will always be an important cornerstone in the IASB's work.

Please click to access a transcript of Mr Barckow's full speech on the IASB website.

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