ACCA and IMA host accounting leaders at integrated reporting event

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The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants welcomed top officials from some of the world’s leading accounting organizations to an event highlighting the growing importance of integrated reporting.

Leaders of the ACCA, the IMA and the International Integrated Reporting Council welcomed the heads of the International Accounting Standards Board, the International Federation of Accountants, the Financial Accounting Foundation, along with representatives from major accounting firms, students, press and other constituencies to an opening night mixer Tuesday at the Yale Club in New York.

ACCA chief executive Helen Brand, a board member of the IIRC, talked about a new report from her group providing insights into integrated reporting from users of the IR framework. “We have to tell the story, but we have to give people the tools as well,” she said. “There’s a lot of challenge in the world today, and I don’t think that necessarily accountants and business reporting are going to meet all those challenges. But we do need a sustainable future for all our peoples, and all the societies and economies where they work. And integrated reporting can help drive that because it is about better run and sustainable corporate practice, which we all support. So I do urge everybody to get behind the IR movement, to support the IIRC in its work, to proceed in this great opportunity to network further and make sure you have that story in your back pocket. And certainly ACCA will be doing everything we can to support the movement going forward.”

For the report, Insights into Integrated Reporting, the ACCA worked with the IIRC to review 41 corporate reports from around the world. The report includes comments from preparers about their attitudes toward integrated reporting and insights it provides into the factors driving business performance.

IMA president and CEO Jeff Thomson explained his views on the purpose of the integrated reporting movement. “I don’t believe that the purpose and call to action is reporting,” he said. “I don’t even think it’s a new way of thinking. I think that the purpose is to create stronger organizations, more ethically sound organizations, to try to bring clarity to the disclosures ecosystem and to ultimately impact the capital markets, which in turn leads to stronger economies and societies.”

Rachel Grimes, the recently elected president of the International Federation of Accountants, spoke about IFAC’s support for integrated reporting and the role of the accountant. “IFAC has been really key in this journey,” she said. “We helped establish the IIRC, and we want to provide that leadership to the accounting profession. We believe that integrated reporting is the foundation of a more coherent corporate reporting system fit for the 21st Century, a clear building block for responsible capitalism and more resilient organizations.”

Like Grimes, IIRC CEO Richard Howitt also took the helm of his organization last year. “This is my second opportunity to address the council as chief executive,” he told the crowd. “I’m really looking forward to the next 24 hours. We’ve already had a fantastic corporate reporting dialogue meeting Monday. Enjoy this evening, work hard tomorrow, champion integrated reporting, but I don’t really have to say that because I know you will.”

IIRC chairman Mervyn King, author of the recent book “The End of Alchemy,” talked about the growth of integrated reporting. “Today the financial manager, who usually becomes the director of the company, is called chief financial officer,” he said. “No financial manager today worth his or her salt just sits in the corner room and prepares a draft financial statement in accordance with U.S. GAAP or IFRS. They don’t do that. One of the first pieces of research on the benefits of integrated reporting was the coming together of people in the C suite actually exchanging ideas and thinking. There’s almost a partnership arrangement between the financial director and the sustainability director in building strategy and thinking of the business model. They all sit together and work out what the future of the company and its value creation process is. But the true change maker is the person that has that public interest training. That is the accountant.”

Among the other accounting industry leaders in attendance at the event were IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst and former vice-chairman Ian Mackintosh, FAF president and CEO Terri Polley, IFAC CEO Fayez Choudhury, ACCA USA CEO Warner Johnston, IIRC North American lead Bob Laux and former IIRC CEO Paul Druckman. Hoogervorst was asked by Accounting Today about how the rollout was going on accounting standards such as financial instruments and leasing, and whether the differences between U.S. GAAP and IFRS on the credit losses and leasing standards were leading to any problems so far. He indicated he hasn’t heard of any.

Polley declined to discuss the standards themselves, pointing out that the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which the FAF oversees, is directly responsible for those. But she said the Private Company Council, which the FAF also oversees, has been undergoing a smooth transition to its new leadership and structure. It is continuing to hold regular meetings, but there haven’t been as many requests lately for exceptions to the accounting standards for private companies. She also noted that the FAF, FASB, the PCC and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board have been making changes to their websites using a common architecture. They have also been implementing a Microsoft SharePoint system that should make it easier for them to work together and address comments submitted to them. Choudhury remarked on the widespread impact of accounting issues around the world and how accounting relates to so many economic issues across the globe.

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