Standards plan ignores users

One of the country’s leading financial directors this week voiced doubts about international proposals for future development of financial reporting standards.

Richard Laing, group FD of printing and packaging group De La Rue, argued that accountants were building a new framework with little input from business people who prepare accounts or investors who use them to make decisions.

‘The professionals are quite correctly looking closely at this and setting forward concerns that need addressing, but it’s rather like the government telling us what diets we should be on,’ said Laing. ‘I’m concerned that the profession has gone through this process without asking us what we want to eat.’

Laing was due to air his criticisms at a financial reporting debate organised by the London Society of Chartered Accountants at Moorgate Place last night. The debate was prompted by the recent papers from the International Accounting Standards Committee and the international G4+1 group of standards organisations that includes the UK’s Accounting Standards Board. The G4+1 proposals echoed November’s call from the English ICA’s financial reporting committee for a single statement of financial performance to replace the existing Statement of Total Gains and Losses.

Coopers & Lybrand accounting technical partner Peter Holgate, who chaired the English ICA’s working group, said: ‘We didn’t know that the G4+1 study was going to advocate the single-statement approach, but it’s good they seem to be heading in the same direction.’

But Laing warned that if users did not join accountants in shaping new standards they might get inappropriate proposals thrust upon them. In particular, he questioned the need for the G4+1’s multi-column statements, which could confuse users. ‘We must be careful to remember that these statements are being written for users who are not professional accountants,’ he said.

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