Ian Ball, CEO of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), praised the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) for its recent decision to adopt international standards in accounting and auditing, calling it ‘an important benchmark in underscoring the value of accountancy and the accountancy profession to governments and to business on the African continent.'
PAFA was launched in May 2011 and consists of 39 professional accountancy organisations from 34 African nations.
‘International accounting standards provide the framework against which the auditor examines a company's financial statements and judges whether they can be relied upon by investors, capital market participants, and policymakers,' Ball said. ‘The adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), along with international standards on education and ethics, is particularly important in Africa, and so this resolution by PAFA is an important milestone.
A sound financial infrastructure—in the form of high-quality, recognised standards in auditing, ethics, public sector accounting, and related regulation — is the only way that sustainable economic development is truly achievable, as Africa seeks a larger role in the global economy.' asa
The findings of the 2012 Old Mutual Retirement Monitor released last month clearly highlights the communication gap in member education in the South African retirement industry To address this lack of education, employers are urged to take responsibility for the financial education of all their members of retirement schemes.
According to the survey, just 50% of respondents actually read through their benefit statements. Furthermore, an alarming 35% of respondents said that they do not receive any benefit statement at all, which means that members have little information about the state of their retirement savings, according to Haddon de Waal, Head of Financial Wellbeing at Old Mutual Corporate.
In spite of this lack of engagement with their funds, retirement fund members remain trusting of their trustees and are mostly confident of their abilities and willingness to act in their best interests.
Haddon de Waal comments, 'It's clear from these results that an urgent need exists for employers, trustees and principal officers to find ways of helping to raise the financial literacy levels of their employees and fund members through effective education interventions. These will not only be of major personal benefit to all employees, but will also lead to a more efficiently managed business.'
De Waal notes that this is of particular importance for publically owned enterprises, due to the large number of employees they communicate with. ‘Financial education must extend through all levels of an organisation. It is not limited to the financial wellness of new employees. In order to equip management with the skills they need to fulfil their objectives, senior and mid-level employees as well as committee members need to be made aware of the responsibility of interpreting and addressing all the risks that impact on an organisation's balance sheet,” says de Waal.
According to de Waal, this includes educating employees and committee members on the measurement, reporting and uncertainty around employee benefit obligations.
As a possible solution for public employers, Old Mutual Corporate developed its Financial Wellbeing Programme. This programme, which is offered in partnership with trustees or employers, is available free of charge to fund members and employees and includes comprehensive financial health assessments, educational workshops, financial advice and support.
‘This kind of partnership approach to member education is the most cost effective, sustainable and impactful way of enabling South Africans to take ownership of their finances, and create the futures they desire for themselves and their families,' concludes de Waal. asa
The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) has recently released the new International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3410, which focuses on Assurance Engagements on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Statements.
This new standard seeks to provide the required assurance on a global scale that will give investors, consumers, and other users the satisfaction and the comfort of knowing that emissions reports provided by companies are reliable. Organisations may prepare these reports for regulatory compliance purposes, or on a voluntary basis for internal business purposes.
The new ISAE 3410's aim is to lay out practitioners responsibilities in identifying, assessing, and responding to risks of material misstatement when reporting on GHG statements. It sets out requirements and guidance on the work effort and reporting responsibilities of practitioners for reasonable and limited assurance engagements, as demand for both is increasingly evident in the marketplace. asa