Appliance of science for the FRC

TO MY GREAT disappointment, the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) new ‘lab contains no test tubes, steam-exuding copper pipes, or white coats.

I know this for sure as I asked the Financial Reporting Lab’s spokeswoman Alison Thomas. Her response was actually “no bunsen burners”.

The lab fails to have even a designated space at the FRC that you would have more realistically imagined replete with decks of laptops, rulebooks and electronic whiteboards. Instead it’s more ‘what you want it to be’ – conceptual.

The lab intends to bring investors and companies together to work through pain points in financial reporting.

While the FRC prefers the term facilitator, it’s not too far a stretch to consider the FRC as mediators. Many scenarios are likely to see frustrated investors calling on companies to open up the numbers in a more transparent way – with accounting advisors ‘cheering on’ from the sidelines. Obviously the FRC would hate to be considered the referee.

That will be an issue it will have to face. The FRC will also need to consider how it publicises what it would hope to be ‘good work’. The parties will be extremely reticent to air dirty laundry in public, yet the council will want to flag up the kind of disputes, sorry – ‘issues’ – that have been resolved.

Then again, the council knows that. It will be fascinating to see how it all pans out.

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