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Recent sustainability and integrated reporting developments

17 Aug 2017

A summary of recent developments at GRI/GSSB, CPA Canada, and IFA.

The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) of the Global Reporting Initiative has launched a public consultation for draft revisions to GRI Standards 303 Water and 403 Occupational Health and Safety. Running from 10 August through 9 October 2017, this public consultation invites feedback from all stakeholders. Please click for the review page for GRI 303 and the review page for GRI 403.

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) has posted two articles on climate change aspects to its website: It’s time to make climate change a business issue notes that the business cost of climate change is real and growing. But that not everyone is aware of the issues. Planning for climate change and a carbon-reduced economy discusses the impact of climate change on business model and strategy and points out a corresponding online learning on 19 October 2017.

The Institut Français des Administrateurs (IFA) have released a report calling on Boards of Directors to produce an integrated report. The report concludes, that one of the key functions of the Board of Directors is to define a value creation strategy for the company's shareholders and that integrated thinking and integrated reporting are an inherent part of this function. Please click for the English language report on the IFA website.

IAASB, IESBA, and IAESB outline need for more professional scepticism

15 Aug 2017

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA), and the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) have jointly published 'Toward Enhanced Professional Skepticism'.

The three standard-setters that operate under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) note that the importance of enhanced professional scepticism is underscored by the increasing complexity of business and financial reporting, including the greater use of estimates and management judgment, business model changes due to technological developments, and the fundamental reliance of the public on dependable financial reporting.

Please click to access the new publication on the IFAC website.

Outreach event on the principles of disclosure discussion paper in Hong Kong

11 Aug 2017

On 5 September 2017, the Hong Kong Institute of CPAs and the IASB will host a joint outreach event in Hong Kong on the IASB discussion paper DP/2017/1 'Disclosure Initiative — Principles of Disclosure'.

The event will cover main elements of the dis­cus­sion paper, including:

  • “what constitutes effective communication in the financial reports;”
  • “what constitutes fair presentation of performance measures such as EBITDA;”
  • “when, where and how financial information should be disclosed.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, see the press release on the IASB’s website.

Recent sustainability and integrated reporting developments

04 Aug 2017

A summary of recent developments at IFAC, IIRC, AICPA, and SASB.

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) have jointly published Creating Value for SMEs through Integrated Thinking: The Benefits of Integrated Reporting highlighting how SMEs can benefit from integrated thinking and reporting and noting that the IIRC’s principles-based framework is deliberately flexible so that SMEs can apply it to their own specific circumstances. Access to the publication is available through the press release on the IFAC website.

The IIRC has also published its own integrated report pointing to how integrated reporting is becoming more widespread around the world. The 22 page report also demonstrates the organisation’s own learning journey as it has been streamlined and made more concise than last year’s report (50 pages). Please click for access to the report on the IIRC website.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has issued Attestation Engagements on Sustainability Information (Including Greenhouse Gas Emissions Information) to provide guidance to CPAs who provide assurance on corporate, social and environmental performance information reported by companies. The guide is available through the press release on the AICPA website.

The United States Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has released of its 2017 Technical Agenda. Cross-cutting items that have been identified and will be adressed include human capital management, cyber security, water risk, and climate risk. The SASB is also integrating the recommendations of the recently released report by the G20 Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) in each industry where climate risk is a material factor. Please click for access to the technical agenda on the SASB website.

IASB posts webinar on the IFRS 17’s premium allocation approach

03 Aug 2017

The IASB has posted to its website a two-part webinar, ‘How does IFRS 17 measure insurance contracts with short coverage periods?’

The webinar discusses optional simplified measurement, presentation and disclosure requirements in IFRS 17.

For more in­for­ma­tion, see Part 1, Part 2, and the slides of the webinar on the IASB's website.

ICAEW report on non-comparable disclosure under IFRS

03 Aug 2017

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has released a report 'Disclosure quality and international comparability under IFRS: evidence from pension discount rates, impairment and capitalisation of development costs' that argues that non-comparable disclosure under IFRS is a problem.

The report is addressed to practitioners such as financial analysts, finance directors, audit partners and IFRS technical departments in audit firms to alert them to the findings of an investigation into international differences in IFRS practice. Data was collected from over 500 firms in 15 countries.

Of the three areas investigated (pension discount rates, impairment charges and capitalisation of development costs), the topic with the largest amount of non-comparable disclosure was pension discount rates: only 67% of financial statements examined were found to be comparable for analysis. The authors note that pension discount rates were often not distinguished by country and were disclosed as a relatively wide range. Additionally, although an IFRS requirement, many companies do not provide comparable disclosure on the duration of the pension obligation. The authors sum up their findings:

This is an issue of non-comparable disclosure under IFRS. The severity of the problem varies by country, but as a data problem it should be of interest to analysts. Some of the thinness in disclosures may be due to immateriality but we suspect some non-compliance with IFRS disclosure requirements, which should concern auditors, the IASB and regulators.

The full report can be found on the ICAEW website.

Summary of the June 2017 ITCG meeting

01 Aug 2017

The IASB has published notes to the IFRS Taxonomy Consultative Group (ITCG) meeting held on 12 June 2017.

The ITCG discussed the following:

  • Update on recent activities related to better communication in financial reporting.
  • Updates by the ESMA and the SEC on the use of the IFRS Taxonomy.
  • Content and structure of a draft of Using the IFRS Taxonomy — a preparer’s guide.
  • Proposed IFRS Taxonomy content changes.
  • IFRS Taxonomy tables.
  • Update by XBRL International on entity-specific disclosures.
  • Views on proposals for introducing IFRS Taxonomy implementation notes.
  • Development of an IFRS Taxonomy commenting platform.

For more in­for­ma­tion, see the summary on the IASB's website.

CMAC call for members

31 Jul 2017

The IASB's Capital Markets Advisory Committee (CMAC) is currently seeking applications for membership after the terms of a number of members expire at the end of 2017.

The CMAC is a group of pro­fes­sional financial analysts who meet three times a year with members of the IASB to provide the views of pro­fes­sional investors on financial reporting issues.

For more information, see the press release on the IASB's website.

World Standard-setters meeting programme available

31 Jul 2017

A programme has been released for the upcoming World Standard-setters meeting, which is being held in London on 25-26 September 2017.

A summary of the programme is set out below:

Monday, 25 September 2016 (09:00 - 18:30)

  • Welcome address
  • IASB Technical programme update
  • Working with National Standard-setters (NSS), including supporting implementation of IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts
  • Rate-regulated activities
    • case study
    • small-group discussions
  • Education sessions (two rounds)
    • IFRS 17 Insurance Contracts
    • Better communication in financial reporting
    • Maintenance activities/supporting implementation
    • Conceptual Framework

Tuesday, 26 September 2016 (09:00 - 13:00)

  • Financial instruments with characteristics of equity
    • case study
    • small-group discussions
  • Feedback on case studies
    • Rate-regulated activities
    • Financial instruments with characteristics of equity

Papers for the meeting are expected to be made available in due course on the IASB's website. The WSS meeting will be immediately followed by a meeting of the International Forum of Accounting Standard Setters (IFASS).

IFRS Foundation publishes results of a reputation research study

31 Jul 2017

The IFRS Foundation has published a report with findings of a reputation research study conducted between February and May 2017. The objective of the study was to learn about (1) the perceived performance of the Foundation as regards reputation attributes such as transparency and independence, (2) perceptions of engagement and consultation, and (3) whether it is felt that the Foundation meets its public interest mission and delivers on its objectives.

The study builds on close to 130 interviews of which over 100 were conducted with external parties (accountants/auditors, preparers, users, standard-setters, regulators as well as members of the different IFRS Foundation advisory groups).

Overall, the IFRS Foundation is rated highly for its transparency and independence. Its consultations are perceived as professional, open, and effective with good quality documentation. The vast majority of respondents also agree that the Foundation meets its public interest mission and the Foundation’s not-for-profit, privately organised status is not seen to have a detrimental effect on the public interest mission.

However, several weaknesses were also identified by the study. The main one is the perception that the Foundation is not timely and does not respond quickly enough to a changing world. Especially long development and consultation phases are seen as a weakness, which are attributed to a lack of proper balance right between quantity of due process and speed and to a tendency to be too technical or conceptual. Respondents would also like to see more opportunities to engage outside the consultation process through informal dialogue, training, and events. Stakeholders also feel that both smaller companies and developing markets are at risk of being sidelined, and call for greater consideration of difficulties they may experience implementing standards.

The report offers six recommendations for the Foundation:

  • Continue the good work
  • Improve outreach and consult more widely
  • Develop events, training and education
  • Improve timeliness
  • Respond to the need for simple, practical, and workable standards
  • Harness advocates to act as ambassadors

The full report and a corresponding press release are available on the IASB website.

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