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AcSB publishes draft framework for reporting performance measures

  • AcSB (Accounting Standards Board - Canada) Image

14 Jun 2018

In order to help enhance the relevance of financial information, the Canadian standard-setter Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) has developed a framework responding to the needs of stakeholders about the performance measures reported by entities. The framework is aimed at enhancing the usefulness and transparency of performance measures for users when management chooses to report them outside financial statements.

In introducing the framework, the AcSB notes concerns that are often mentioned in connection with performance measures: (1) the quality of performance measures being reported; (2) the lack of consistency, transparency and comparability of performance measures reported period to period; (3) the “expectation gap” about the governance practices of entities over how performance are developed and reported, and whether those measures are subject to assurance, and (4) the limited guidance available on how to develop and report performance measures not usually subject to assurance. Consequently, the framework is intended to be a tool to guide:

  • management in developing and assessing how effectively they report financial and non-financial performance measures;
  • directors and others charged with governance in fulfilling their responsibilities when assessing management’s processes and reporting of performance measures; and
  • investors, contributors, lenders and other resource providers in setting expectations and seeking compliance with the framework as part of obtaining the information they need.

The framework is intended for public companies, not-for-profit organisations, private companies and pension plans and can be applied to financial, non-financial or operational performance measures that are reported separately from and are not part of a set of financial statements (including note disclosures) prepared in accordance with an accounting framework. It is not intended for financial performance measures reported in accordance with GAAP or other accounting frameworks.

The framework notes that characteristics of a high-quality performance measure are that it is relevant and faithfully depicts the value realised or the ability to create value (including being complete, neutral and free from material error). Consistency, comparability, verifiability, timeliness and understandability further enhance the usefulness of a performance measure. A performance measure and information reported about it would be material if misstating it could influence decisions that users make based on that information about the entity. The framework also notes a cost benefit constraint.

The core of the framework is a model for developing and reporting a performance measure. It is visualised as a foundation with four pillars and a roof with the foundation being the entity looking to its strategies, goals and objectives to identify key activities it has undertaken and will undertake to generate value in the short and long term to decide what information an entity may want to report externally – in addition to information reported in financial statements. On this foundation, the pillars are established:

  • Pillar 1 – Selecting a relevant performance measure that can be faithfully depicted 
  • Pillar 2 – Applying materiality and the cost benefit constraint considering the type and size of the entity and the complexity of its activities
  • Pillar 3 – Establishing policies, controls and procedures to ensure consistency, comparability, verifyability, timeliness and understandability
  • Pillar 4 – Reinforcing with governance practices

The roof and final step in the process is effective communication. The framework notes that a performance measure is understandable when information about it is described and reported clearly and concisely and a transparent disclosure provides the information necessary for a user to understand the performance measure.

The draft framework, which also offers three appendices with references and resources, an overview of the framework, as well as disclosure considerations, is available on the AcSB website. It is complemented by a survey on reporting performance measures. Comments are requested by 1 October 2018.

Please note that the AcSB also offers an 18 minute video with AcSB Chair Linda Mezon introducing the draft framework.

The AcSB is offering feedback sessions both in person across Canada and virtually in August and September. More information is available here.

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