The 20th Annual Financial Reporting Conference was hosted virtually by Baruch College on May 4 and 5, 2022. The longstanding conference brought together—via videoconference—representatives from leading regulators, standards setters, preparers, auditors, and users. Although the new business environment brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic was foremost in everyone’s mind, the hot topics of discussion were trends in accounting and financial reporting that have been gathering steam for years, if not decades.
Separate panels were devoted to the discussion of cutting-edge topics and the impact they are likely to have on standards setting, financial reporting, and enforcement—today and into the future. One session covered digital assets, such as Bitcoin, and the unique challenges they present under existing accounting and auditing guidance. Another session covered sustainability reporting and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, once niche topics that have become relevant to increasing numbers of investors and stakeholders, as well as regulators. These issues also permeated the presentations given by top representatives from the SEC, PCAOB, and FASB.
As always, the speakers devoted much time to explaining how they have approached the implementation of newly effective standards and the resources that are available to professionals in need of greater guidance. Representatives from regulators repeatedly stressed the importance they place on feedback from preparers and users; they encouraged attendees to provide their input on the current proposals, most notably those in the ESG space. There was also discussion throughout the conference about what to expect from the ambitious agendas under consideration at the PCAOB and SEC. Also mentioned was the recent turnover among their leading personnel, especially at the PCAOB, led by newly installed Chair Erica Williams, who served as the conference’s keynote speaker.