FYI Article – AcSB Hosts IASB Members; Canadians Contribute to International Dialogue
In October 2016, the Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) hosted members of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). They were in town to take part in the IASB’s 2016 Research Forum, held in conjunction with an annual conference of Canada’s pre-eminent academic accounting journal, Contemporary Accounting Research.
The visit provided a golden opportunity for the AcSB to demonstrate its commitment to its stakeholders — by connecting them directly with the IASB. The AcSB hosted or took part in a variety of events that enabled Canadians to share their views and receive information to support their application of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
“As the local standard setter, we are able to give the IASB members direct access to our stakeholders,” said Linda Mezon, Chair, AcSB. “From traditional panel discussions to more informal one-off meetings, we’re well positioned to create connection opportunities for Canadians and the IASB.”
Stephen Cooper: Transparency in Standard Setting
First appointed to the IASB in 2007, Stephen Cooper is one of its longest-serving members and has been a frequent visitor to Canada.
On October 12, 2016, he spoke with Ms. Mezon at a breakfast session sponsored by Deloitte that included over 100 senior financial executives. The two also moderated a webinar available to all Canadians on major new standards (namely, those on revenue, financial instruments and leases) and ongoing projects (including insurance, the conceptual framework and disclosures).
Stephen Cooper, October 12, 2016
In Mr. Cooper’s time at the IASB, much has changed. “Reporting has been transformed. In terms of IFRS, in 2005 it was only Europe. We are much more international now and we continue to expand IFRS in both name and substance.”
Mr. Cooper praised the AcSB for enabling him and his colleagues to make the most of their time in Canada. “Our goal is to be transparent in setting new standards and to be partner oriented. This is at the heart of why we have come to Canada — to share, to learn, and to improve and move forward.”
Linda Mezon and Stephen Cooper, October 12, 2016
Mary Tokar: Capital Is Global
Mary Tokar, who joined the IASB in 2013, used part of this visit to Canada to meet individually with financial statement users and investors, including one of Canada’s largest pension plans.
“Consider that large pension plans are some of the world’s major investors in public capital markets,” said Ms. Tokar. “As long-term investors and supporters of good investment decisions, they can give context to many of the factors the IASB considers when we make our decisions. What are an organization’s priorities and how do they relate to ours? We have similar discussions in other sectors — banking, insurance, retail, etc.”
Two years ago, the IASB began a program called “Investors in Financial Reporting” to further strengthen relationships with this group. The goal? Ensure that the investor perspective is clearly articulated and is considered in the standard-setting process.
Added Ms. Tokar, “People often think that issues are local and therefore a local solution is the logical response, but with conversation, you discover that it’s a regional version of a problem you’ve seen elsewhere. That’s when root-cause analysis comes in. Simply put, capital knows no boundaries, and neither do investors. Our solutions can be a combination of local and global too.”
Gary Kabureck: Relationships Matter
Gary Kabureck has been an IASB member since 2013 and chaired the AcSB’s October 14, 2016 panel discussion on implementing IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers.
Gary Kabureck (right) chairs the IFRS 15 panel discussion including panelists Karyn Brooks (left) and Karen Higgins (middle), October 14, 2016
He had high praise for Canadians participating in the standard-setting process: “Canada’s accounting environment is extremely professional,” he said. “We receive input, not just in formal environments, but in letters and notes and other sessions, that is thoughtful, reasonable and balanced. The Canadian perspective is extraordinarily helpful to IFRS development.”
Like Mr. Cooper, he has seen changes to the financial reporting environment over time. “Standard setting has slowly shifted from one that’s balance sheet to income statement driven,” said Mr. Kabureck. “Classic financial reporting will always be the bedrock of our profession. Now, however, our goals will require us to marry pure financial reporting with integrated reporting to include things like sustainability, human capital, environmental and social capital.”
Continuing and Strengthening the Conversation
Each IASB member noted that differences in business environments can only become well understood — and, therefore, well addressed — with dialogue. Ms. Mezon is confident that the AcSB will continue creating opportunities to continue the dialogue between the IASB and Canadian stakeholders.
“IFRS has made accounting standards a global language and we’re proud to represent Canadians at the international table,” she said. “Most importantly, we will continue to make the most of opportunities like this recent visit by these IASB members to directly connect them with our stakeholders — which, I believe, will only deepen Canada’s already strong relationship with the IASB.”
Karen Jones, CPA, CA
Principal, Accounting Standards Board
Phone: +1 (416) 204-3463