Our brand is consultation!

“To enable us to consult widely,” says the IFRS Foundation on its website, “we work closely with a wide network of advisory committees and bodies, representing the many different stakeholder groups that have an interest in and are affected by financial reporting.”

It goes on: “These groups and bodies are important channels for us to gather input on our work; the groups enable us to efficiently consult with interested parties from a range of backgrounds and geographical regions.” “Wide network” seems to be a fair description, at least if measured by the raw numbers of such bodies and committees – the website heralds the Accounting Standards Advisory Forum, the IFRS Advisory Council, the Capital Markets Advisory Committee, the Emerging Economics Group, the Global Preparers’ Forum, the Islamic Finance Consultative Group, the IFRS Taxonomy Consultative Group, the SME Implementation Group and the Worlds Standard Setters Conferences; not to mention three transition resources groups and one proiect consultative group. If nothing else, that’s a lot of coffee and snacks.

What’s even more amazing, if you dig into the entrails of the IFRS Foundation (and if you do, by the way, bring protective clothing) is that the website doesn’t even provide a complete list of all the bodies and committees on which the organization relies for top-quality input. After considerable effort, I managed to identify some of the more shadowy ones, and as an important public service, I’m going to reveal them now, all in one place, for the first time. You can thank me later.

The Doomsday Prevention Collective For any organization that consistently generates a large amount of published material, a major recurring fear exists of finding itself to be functioning as a latter-day Nostradamus, of issuing phrases and sentences that (whether by chance or by the machinations of some shadowy figure on the editorial staff) contain dark hidden meanings – in a worst case, perhaps even contain the coded language to trigger the end of everything. This eclectic group of contributors reviews all draft standards and other materials, stripping away any content of potential supernatural portent. In a notable recent achievement, the group was responsible for detecting and removing the portions of IFRS 16 that might in its view have caused all domestic cats to levitate.

The Global Disdain Forum This important conclave brings together a number of successful investors, united only by their complete lack of reliance on any form of financial statement analysis, and their sturdy refusal ever to consider changing that. The IFRS Foundation considers these investors worthy of detailed study – partly because if IFRS can crack these tough nuts then it can accomplish anything, and partly because if any of these arrogant assholes ever crashes, it’ll be great to have the last laugh at close quarters.

The IFRS Diversity Symposium This passionate body works tirelessly to promote diversity in the application and understanding of IFRS, based on its unshakable conviction that diversity is to be celebrated whatever form it takes. The symposium currently has no members, in the wake of a recent outraged mass resignation to protest the IASB’s proposal of “narrow‑scope amendments to IAS 16 Property, Plant and Equipment to reduce the diversity in application of the Standard.”

The Hoogervorst Speech Enhancement Task Force This team of crack prose stylists reviews the speeches of Chair Hoogervorst for appropriate zest and quirkiness. The group’s high point remains its fine tuning of the Chair’s classic “George Clooney” speech, to add in the references to the actor’s “athletic build” and “chiselled chin” – an achievement marred only by the fatal heart attack incurred by one of its members at the very moment of finalizing the text.

The Crypto-Standard-Setting Crypto-Group As we all know, the world is currently gripped by the potential of digital mediums of exchange that lack physical form and traditional infrastructure. While digital currencies raise various accounting issues in themselves, of greater interest is the symbolic example they hold for other walks of life. This crucial committee advises the IFRS Foundation on moving toward standards that exist not as words but as, at most, decentralized pulses, particularly applicable for the financial reporting of entities operating only as clouds, breaths or digital farts. Reflecting its mandate, the group currently meets only within the Second Life virtual world; it is actively searching for a less restrictive venue.

The Mile-High Standard-Setters Club A group reflecting the possibly unsupported notion that those rare individuals with a history of both (a) contributing to the development of IFRS and (b) “getting it on” during a long-haul flight can bring an uniquely valuable perspective to the Foundation’s work. The group has yet to establish a quorum or to hold its first meeting. In honour of former Chair David Tweedie, when assessing applicants for membership, particular credit will be given to individuals who can prove that they met criterion (b) in an aircraft that is on an airline’s balance sheet.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who acknowledges the invaluable input of the many advisory groups and committees that contributed to this blog. Or maybe, more accurately, he should just thank his dog. Either way, happy new year!

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