Keith Nuthall is a journalist specialising in international organisations, law and regulation


The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has released a white paper highlighting that the accounting profession needs to learn from the challenges of Covid-19 and invest in boosting communication skills. This will enable accountants to be more effective and trusted partners who are able to adapt to flexible and remote working even after the pandemic subsides.

IFAC’s Professional Accountants in Business Advisory Group has also published advice from business experts and consultants on how accountants can play a greater role in risk and revenue management as well as value creation, while a new web-based information resource will help accountants deal with the impact of Covid-19.

EY has surveyed the Covid-19 disclosures in the financial statements of more than 120 companies. The survey supplements a series on accounting considerations of the coronavirus pandemic.

Technology impact

The International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) has released four revised International Education Standards (IESs) addressing information and communications technologies and the teaching of professional scepticism. The goal is to boost financial reporting and auditing in economies where digital technologies are becoming more widespread.

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) Technology Task Force has been staging two online surveys investigating how new technology is affecting accountants and auditors. These focus on how accounting and auditing technology can add complexity in workflows, and how technology might impact auditor independence. As well as accountants, the board wants views from businesses, investors, regulators and more. Find out more on the IESBA website.

Borrowing costs

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board is seeking comments on planned new guidance informing IPSAS 5, its standard on accounting for borrowing costs. This advice would clarify when these liabilities should be capitalised within public sector accounts. The goal is enhancing comparability between public sector entities that undertake such capitalisation.

Improved audits

The International Auditing and Assurance Standard Board (IAASB) has closed an extended consultation as it reviews the implementation and performance of its auditor reporting standards issued in 2015. It has been seeking evidence that the new standards have improved audits.

IFRS taxonomy

The IFRS Foundation has proposed improvements to its IFRS Taxonomy 2020 of accounting terms designed to enable accountants to better tag data in primary financial statements. The changes include new line items for disclosures related to earnings per share, transitions within accounts to new IFRS Standards, and clarifications on describing depreciation, for example.

Business combinations

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is researching whether it can offer guidance to deal with problems in applying the ‘equity method’ of assessing investment costs before and after an acquisition.

The IASB’s Accounting Standards Advisory Forum has published detailed comments on a ‘Discussion Paper Business Combination – Disclosures, Goodwill and Impairment’, released in March 2020, which could lead to IFRS requiring more information in accounts.

Public accounting

IFAC has released a package of training materials to help governments and other public entities report accounts under the accrual-based International Public Sector Accounting Standards. These ‘Train the Trainer: Introduction to IPSAS’ materials include sessions on assets, liabilities, financial instruments and initial adoptions of accrual IPSAS, with manuals, slides and videos.

Economic boost

Research demonstrating how accountants boost economic growth, especially those who are part of IFAC-linked professional accountancy organisations, has been issued by IFAC. The study, conducted by the UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, concluded that an increase of 500 accountants per one million population could increase GDP in affected areas by US$5,073 per capita; this rises to US$11,224, if accountants are linked to IFAC bodies.

IASB chair appointed

Andreas Barckow has been appointed as IASB chair from July 2021. Dr Barckow has served as president of the Accounting Standards Committee of Germany since 2015 and has been an active participant in numerous advisory bodies to the IFRS Foundation and the IASB. He will succeed Hans Hoogervorst, who completes his second five-year term in June 2021.