Accounting news


IASB will not add to sustainability rules

The International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) Chairman Hans Hoogervorst this month signaled little appetite for setting standards on sustainability reporting. “I do not think the IASB is equipped to enter the field of sustainability reporting directly. Setting sustainability reporting standards requires expertise that we simply do not have. Moreover, there are already more than enough standard-setters active in this field,” Hoogervorst told a Climate-Related Financial Reporting Conference at Cambridge University. With so many standards in the sustainability reporting space, he highlighted the enormous potential for “disclosure overload” and the need for consolidation. “To give one example, Tesla is ranked highest in terms of the sustainability index of MSCI, while FTSE ranks it as the worst carmaker globally on environmental, social and governance issues. Yet another agency puts it somewhere in the middle,” he said. The best way to make companies change is by having standards that focus on the impact of sustainability issues on future returns, he added.


Hong Kong IPO market sees strong first quarter

Hong Kong’s initial public offering (IPO) market has been generating the biggest first-quarter returns in years, South China Morning Post reported this month. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, 11 companies selling IPO shares worth at least US$100 million saw increases by an average of 11 percent a month after the first day of trading. It was the largest gain ever recorded in four years. Chinese biotechnology company CStone Pharmaceuticals was the city’s biggest IPO, raising US$327.8 million and rising 31 percent a month since trading. “The improved performance of Hong Kong’s IPO shares are mostly due to the good momentum on the stock market and investors are inclined to give new shares higher valuations when sentiment on the secondary market is good,” Ken Chen Hao, Strategist at KGI Securities Shanghai, said.

U.K. watchdog opens full review of KPMG

Britain’s accounting watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), has launched an independent review of the governance, controls and culture at Big Four firm KPMG, following its role in the collapse of construction company Carillion. The review, which will take place at the end of the year, will look at the firm’s risk management, and assess whether it is capable of delivering high-quality audits in the U.K. It follows a 2018 quality assessment by the FRC, which found that around 50 percent of audits done by KPMG were below standard. “We are cooperating fully with the various inquiries currently underway, engaging actively with the reviews of the audit sector, and, where we can, we are moving ahead and taking action ourselves,” said a KPMG spokesman. ​

BDO plans to split U.K. audit and consulting units

BDO, the United Kingdom’s fifth-largest accounting firm, said plans to split its U.K. audit and non-audit businesses had “swung into motion” this month, following calls by British members of parliament to break up the Big Four. BDO said the move would create an audit subsidiary of 2,000 staff and a non-audit subsidiary of 3,000 staff, both operating under a single U.K. parent company, though plans are still in the early stages. A BDO spokesman said: “At the moment we are scenario planning for a variety of potential outcomes, one of which includes moving our audit practice to a separate subsidiary within the BDO LLP Group, so we can demonstrate it is sufficiently profitable and operates within a controlled environment focused on quality.”

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