Studying this article and answering the related questions can count towards your verifiable CPD if you are following the unit route to CPD and the content is relevant to your learning and development needs. One hour of learning equates to one unit of CPD.
Multiple-choice questions

Adam Deller is a financial reporting specialist and lecturer

In July 2021, Andreas Barckow began his tenure as the third chair of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). He is following in the footsteps of Sir David Tweedie and Hans Hoogervorst. (Read Barckow’s and Hoogervorst’s AB interviews.)

This column has previously spoken of the stated dream of Sir David, the initial chair. It’s a predictably low-key dream – that of one day flying on an airline that is on a company’s balance sheet. This dream finally became a reality during the time of his successor.

Hoogervorst himself never stated a dream, even a prosaic one, based on IFRS. This is perhaps due to his not having a past as a technical accountant and therefore finding easier ways to sleep than dreaming of adjustments to financial reporting.

Despite the lack of stated dreams, though, he oversaw the completion of IFRS 16, Leases, in addition to other major new standards IFRS 15, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and IFRS 9, Financial Instruments.

Barckow presented his inaugural speech in September. It is unlikely that any incoming chair of the IASB will give a rousing, emotional polemic to stir the hearts of even the most committed financial reporting expert, but he does give an indication of where the potential direction of developments may head. Three major items were mentioned, which perhaps give us a teaser for the board’s next steps.


The area Barckow mentioned that could see the quickest development relates to the proposed ‘sister board’ looking at sustainability-related financial disclosures. (See my previous column on this.)

The International Sustainability Standards Board would aim to introduce a set of global sustainability-related disclosure standards. This would clearly be a huge project and one of the defining elements of the new chair’s tenure.

Entities could time the disposal of loss-making or profit-making investments to achieve an outcome in a desired period

IFRS shortcuts

Watch Adam Deller’s series of short videos of financial reporting insights


Another item raised related to something many of us were hoping would be on the new chair’s agenda. Thankfully, Barckow mentioned IAS 38, Intangible Assets – the financial reporting elephant in the room.

He acknowledged the age of the standard and that it often failed to capture the true value in many modern entities. You can imagine that, while it’s not time to get the bunting out just yet, it’s maybe time to start planning the celebrations.

Open communications

Then there is communication, which takes us away from the longer-term or even medium-term vision, right to the present-day activities. The business author Ken Blanchard coined the phrase that ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions’, and Barckow has acknowledged the importance of this in the next steps of the IASB.

The board has just finished its agenda consultation. Barckow’s past is as a national standard-setter in Germany, and he took time to acknowledge that the feedback from national standard-setters is key.

Other issues

While we’re looking at the role of feedback in the standard-setting process, the final thing to consider is that the post-implementation review (PIR) of IFRS 9, Financial Instruments, has recently begun.

The objective of a PIR is to assess whether a standard is working as intended. As part of it, the IASB invites general comments but also provides a spotlight on some key issues that it believes would lead to useful discussion.

The most contentious of the spotlighted issues is perhaps the ‘recycling’ element. Previously, gains recorded in ‘other comprehensive income’ could be recycled into the statement of profit or loss upon disposal but, under IFRS 9, this has been stopped for equity.

In arriving at this initial conclusion, the board believed that allowing this recycling to continue could lead to increased complexity in financial reporting, at odds with the major aim of the new standard. Another reason, and perhaps the most significant, was the potential for earnings management, meaning that entities could time the disposal of loss-making or profit-making investments to achieve an outcome in a desired period.

Among all the other feedback on IFRS 9, the board is asking for responses on whether respondents feel the closure of the recycling element is working. Comments on the PIR for IFRS 9 are to be received by 28 January 2022.

The job ahead

This brings us back to the work that lies ahead for the new chair. As stated, Barckow believes that feedback from others is key. He has shown this in his willingness to finally tackle the intangible assets dilemma. Reversing the contentious recycling decision is surely a step further than he would take, particularly as, in his closing speech, Hoogervorst specifically stated that, while he did not want to rule from the grave, he hoped that this would not be undone.

There are plenty of priorities that lie ahead for the new chair, and reversing key implementation decisions made by his predecessor is surely not high among them.

Further information

Find out more about the IASB’s plan for the next three years in IASB vice chair Sue Lloyd’s presentation – part of the session, ‘Reporting intangible assets: mapping the way ahead’ – at ACCA’s Accounting For the Future virtual conference, which takes place from 23-25 November