Why ESG Really Matters

McKinsey & Company’s Sustainability newsletter, dated August 10, 2022, points out that “since the acronym ‘ESG’ (environmental, social and governance) was coined in 2005, and until recently, its fortunes were steadily growing.”

Read more
What Your People Don’t Know Might Hurt You

“People risk” can be mitigated by ensuring your employees have a full understanding of their role, says Helen Tuddenham in an article in FM Financial Management posted August 8, 2022.

“Look at any significant corporate failure over the last 20-30 years, and at its heart will be issues relating to people,” she writes. “In most industries, people are your greatest asset — but they can also be your biggest liability. Unlike machines, they are unpredictable, irrational, and erratic, which makes ‘people risk’ one of the most challenging areas to define, assess, and manage on your risk register.”

Read more
More Companies Obtaining ESG Assurance, According to Global Survey

An article by Bryan Strickland, posted August 1, 2022 on the Journal of Accountancy webpage, says that “the percentage of companies worldwide providing assurance on ESG information continues to rise, according to the latest round of data, but the United States and the United Kingdom continue to lag behind when it comes to having auditors provide ESG assurance.”

The percentage of companies that had ESG assurance provided on their reporting rose to 58% in 2020 from 51% the previous year, according to The State of Play in Reporting and Assurance of Sustainability Information. The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and AICPA and CIMA co-authored the report.

The percentage of worldwide ESG assurance engagements conducted by audit firms and their affiliates went down slightly from 2019 to 2020, from 63% to 61%. The numbers rose in the United States but only from 11.1% to 16.2%. In the U.K., the percentage went from 53.5% to 42.3%.

Strickland says that “IFAC, AICPA and CIMA advocate companies opting to have their statutory auditor also perform ESG assurance engagements, and the survey found that 71% of companies using audit firms for ESG assurance are doing just that.”

Ninety-two percent of the 1,400 companies surveyed reported some ESG information in 2020, compared with 91% the previous year.

The study also highlighted some findings related to what specific ESG information companies are providing, where they're providing it, and when they're providing it.

  • What: Eighty-nine percent of companies reporting ESG data in 2020 provided at least some information in each of four identified areas — greenhouse gases (GHG), other environmental, social, and governance. However, just 43% provided assurance in all four areas. GHG was the one constant, with 92% of companies reporting on it, and 95% of those providing assurance.
  • Where: Seventy-six percent of companies included assurance reports in their annual reports, while 19% provided them on a company website. The United States, U.K. and Canada were outliers, collectively including assurance in annual reports less than 40% of the time, but posting it on company websites about half the time. Those numbers may speak to the more informal nature of some assurance engagements in those regions.
  • When: Among the 733 companies that had both their financial audit and ESG assurance reports/signatures examined, 54 days was the worldwide average time between those issuances. The average time varies widely by country — ranging from two days in Italy to 110 days in the United States — in part because of different requirements for statutory versus voluntary disclosures by location.

For more, see More companies obtaining ESG assurance, according to global survey - Journal of Accountancy or visit the link in the second paragraph.

The State of Play in Sustainability Assurance: Benchmarking Global Practice

In the Foreword to important new research just released by the International Federation of Accountants, CEO Kevin Dancey and Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, IFAC’s Chief Executive Officer – Public Accounting, point out that “corporate reporting is changing. Quickly. Yesterday’s focus on financial statements is giving way to an integrated approach to financial information, ESG or sustainability information, and broader non-financial information. In particular, investors and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding high-quality sustainability information, and reporting entities are looking to – and in many cases are being required to – provide it. As a result, corporate boards must assume their rightful role in prioritizing and overseeing the collection and reporting of sustainability information, and obtaining robust assurance over the sustainability information is essential to ensure that it is high quality.”

Read more
Why Your Firm Should Be Exploring ESG

In a recent AICPA Insights blog, Susan S. Coffey CPA, CGMA, points out that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is “the most consequential expansion of business information since Great Depression-era reforms led to our capital markets’ reliance on audited financial statements. That might sound like hyperbole, but it’s not — and it’s imperative CPA firms grasp this and take steps to secure their place in providing ESG advisory and assurance services.”

Read more
IFRS Foundation Completes Consolidation with Value Reporting Foundation

The IFRS Foundation (IFRSF) announced, on August 1, 2022, that it has completed the consolidation of the Value Reporting Foundation (VRF) into the IFRS Foundation. It follows the commitment made at COP26 to consolidate staff and resources of leading global sustainability disclosure initiatives to support the IFRS Foundation’s new International Sustainability Standards Board’s (ISSB) work to develop a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability disclosures for the capital markets.

Read more
Sarbanes-Oxley at Age 20: The Work Ahead

In a recent speech given at the Center for Audit Quality in the US, SEC chair Gary Gensler celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. He began with some history.

In June 1889, the statistician Carroll D. Wright spoke at the Convention of Commissioners of Bureaus of Statistics of Labor in Hartford, Connecticut. Wright, the first U.S. Commissioner of Labor, warned against the abuse of numbers for personal gain. “Figures will not lie,” he said, but “liars will figure.”

Forty years after that conference, in 1929, the stock market crashed. Gensler said that “our country learned all too well what happens when liars figure, eroding trust.”

Read more
Who Are the Top Employers for Recent Grads?

In the US, and most likely elsewhere in the world as well, The Big Four (Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC) were among the top five organizations to hire new grads in recent years – topped only by Amazon – according to recent research by ONLINEU. A recent article posted on the organization’s website notes that “an initial economic downturn, stimulus checks, government funding to keep businesses afloat, supply shortages, lockdowns, remote work, and many other factors have significantly changed the labor market since 2019.

Read more

CPA Founding Partner

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), one of the largest national accounting organizations in the world, has chosen to become a founding partner of ThinkTwenty20.