As in past years, this month’s issue features the highlights of Baruch College’s Annual Financial Reporting Conference. This gathering reliably brings together leading names from the regulatory, standards setting, accounting, auditing, and user communities to discuss the current issues they are all grappling with.
For years, the conference has focused on charting the big three accounting standards—revenue recognition, leases, and financial instruments—as they moved from draft to final and on to the implementation stage. Now that the standards’ effective dates are nearly here, much of the conference was devoted to answering the question of “what’s next?” Several panelists voiced the feeling—probably shared by many readers—that accounting standards have become too complex. As a result, annual reports have become too long, users suffer from disclosure overload, and investment decisions increasingly turn on other information, which is not necessarily prepared and assured by CPAs.
Representatives from the SEC, FASB, and PCAOB all stressed the importance of the role CPAs play and the centrality of reliable, high-quality financial information backed by independent assurance. But maintaining this role requires that accounting and auditing standards keep adapting to a changing business world. By keeping on top of professional forums like the Baruch Conference, CPAs can do their part to stay informed, hone their own competencies, and keep the profession relevant.