FSF Roundtable on Financial Reporting and Auditing, Paris
On 16-17 February 2006, the FSF, the International Accounting Standards Baords (IASB), and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) co-organised a second Roundtable on Financial Reporting and Auditing issues. The Roundtable involved 77 senior participants from national authorities with responsibility for financial reporting, accounting and auditing professional organisations, accounting and auditing standard setters, market participants, including representatives from capital market firms, corporations, and investors, international regulatory bodies, and international financial institutions. The Roundtable covered key topic areas, as follows:
Experiences with the implementation of IFRS and convergence, harmonisation, and reconciliations. Efforts to harmonise US and IASB standards are designed to lead to elimination, by 2008 - 2009, of the requirement of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that foreign companies listed in the US file with the SEC a reconciliation of their IFRS-based financial statements to US standards.
Experiences with the implementation of ISA and the regulatory and practical challenges in implementing both IFRS and ISA. Convergence activities in the area of ISAs are underway but are not as extensive as with IFRS. The role of audit firms and other organisations in ensuring consistent interpretations was emphasised, particularly in a global principles-based standards setting environment. Given how enforcement can affect interpretations, securities regulators are hard at work to achieve consistent regulatory interpretations.
Fair values – issues for preparers, accounting and auditing standards setters, auditors, investors, and regulators. The participants addressed both the potential benefits that many see in a long-term movement by the IASB toward fair value accounting and the continued concerns of many others about the reliability, verifiability, and relevance of fair value estimates for non-traded items.
Risks and vulnerabilities arising from the financial reporting process. While investor confidence in financial statements – the end product of the financial reporting process – has improved, it is still fragile. Complexity in business structures and transactions and in accounting standards creates enormous risk in the capital markets. Concerns about audit firm concentration risk and the quality of audits across global audit firm networks was also discussed. Some felt that it was difficult for the major firms to achieve consistent audit quality worldwide when there is inconsistency in audit oversight and inspection regimes around the world – a problem audit regulators seek to address.
The Roundtable included special presentations from the chairman of the IOSCO Technical Committee and from the FSF Chairman. In addition, the Roundtable included presentations from the chairman, US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), on convergence activities with the IASB; the Deputy Chief Accountant, US SEC, on harmonisation and reconciliations, another FASB Board member on the FASB’s views and projects on fair value accounting and disclosure issues; and from the representatives of other standards setters and accounting and auditing authorities; regulatory organisations, preparers, auditors, and the European Commission.