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Multi-stakeholder teams: Third leg of drive for improvements in KPIs

This publication explains recent developments on KPIs and an initiative to enhance their credibility through assurance.

It is staggering to see how far Canada has come in the last eighteen months in leading the way on enhancing the relevance of audit. It was in July 2017 that I reported on a ground-breaking conversation starting to take place with Canadian investors about how much they use key performance indicators (KPIs). Investors complained about a lack of transparency, consistency, comparability and reliability of KPIs.

A LOT HAS HAPPENED SINCE THEN:

  • The Canadian Public Accountability Board (CPAB) symposium in May 2017 built on and reinforced investor concerns and misconceptions about KPIs.
  • In November 2017, CPA Canada and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) started a discussion about what audit and assurance could look like in the future. The discussion honed in on the global nature of the KPI issue and identified opportunities for various stakeholders—companies, investors, regulators, audit committees and auditors—to step up to the plate.

These conversations are now leading to concrete action. Firstly, the Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) issued a draft Framework for Reporting Performance Measures, “a first step in responding to the needs of stakeholders about the performance measures reported by entities.” The AcSB is reviewing feedback and issuing a revised Framework, hopefully by the end of the year.

Secondly, in September, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued a proposed National Instrument 52-112, Non-GAAP and Other Financial Measures Disclosure, which establishes disclosure requirements for issuers that disclose non-GAAP and other financial measures. The comment period ends in December 2018.

CPA Canada and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AASB) are watching these developments with great interest and are launching the third major Canadian initiative in this space: discussions with stakeholders, targeted at exploring new and innovative ways to enhance credibility in information outside of the financial statements through enhanced assurance. They are looking for multi-stakeholder teams to experiment and innovate potential assurance solutions based on the work of the AcSB and the CSA. Teams will assess the value to the user of enhanced credibility of their information and ways to deliver that value—for example, through governance practices and exploring external assurance services.

I am very excited about the initiative and the potential developments that will come out of it. The work of the teams will inform the AASB as it examines whether standards need to change, or new standards are needed, in order to strengthen consistency of engagements to enhance credibility of information such as KPIs.

All of the above developments demonstrate that Canada is playing a leading role in strengthening reporting around information outside of the financial statements. We recently shared Canada’s initiatives at an international symposium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Panel members included Ken Charbonneau, AASB chair, and Ron Salole, Canada’s nominee at the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). A report on this event will be coming out shortly.

KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING

Are you interested in joining one of our multi-stakeholder teams? Please email me or contact Taryn Abate. Together we can maintain momentum in meeting the needs of investors for credible KPIs.

Any other thoughts? Post a comment below or email me directly.

Conversations about Audit Quality is designed to create an exchange of ideas on global audit quality developments and issues and their impact in Canada.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.