IASB faces battle to reconcile divergent views on ‘prudent’ accounting

first_imgThe International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has received strong support for the reintroduction of the concept of ‘prudence’ into its conceptual framework – but little clear direction on how it should do so.According to a staff summary of comment letters on the board’s recently issued exposure draft, some three-quarters of respondents commented on plans to bring back an an explicit reference to prudence.The IASB removed the concept from the 2010 iteration of its framework.But whatever path the board takes on the issue over the course of its new deliberations, one board member warned it against “playing games” with words. Speaking during the 15 March meeting, Patrick Finnegan said: “The problem we have right now is [that] the definition of ‘prudence’ in a dictionary … is more consistent with asymmetric prudence than it is with the IASB’s proposed definition.“My advice is to describe what you mean more precisely. Don’t use a word imprecisely. Don’t say something is something that it is not. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”His comments came as the London-based accounting rule-maker considered a staff summary of comments on its October 2015 exposure draft.The board announced its conceptual framework project in 2011.A discussion paper followed in July 2013.The project is of keen interest to many long-term investors in the UK arguing that accounting standards should emphasise conservatism and caution.In particular, they want to see more timely recognition of losses and a more cautious approach to assets – especially where there is measurement uncertainty over the availability of an asset.The IASB received 233 comment letters on its latest exposure draft.Staff reported that constituents generally viewed the conceptual framework project as ‘high priority’.In particular, they saw the exposure draft as “a significant improvement on both the existing conceptual framework and the proposals in the discussion paper.”The project is not a fundamental rework of the framework – rather it updates, clarifies and fills in gaps in the existing framework.The early signs are that the board’s new deliberations in the coming months will focus on the tensions between prudence in the form of so-called cautious prudence or prudence as asymmetric prudence.The IASB defined prudence in its exposure draft as caution when making judgements under conditions of uncertainty – but without exercising more caution when recognising gains and assets than losses and liabilities.Under the competing asymmetric approach to prudence, a business would recognise losses sooner than it would recognise gains.Fundamentally, the reintroduction of prudence – even as the IASB has currently defined it – could be expected to lead to the delayed recognition of gains where there is measurement uncertainty.Nonetheless, a leading accounting academic and former IASB staffer slammed the proposals as being essentially meaningless.In a 21 November comment letter, professor Richard Baker from Oxford University’s Said Business School wrote: “This approach is … fundamentally flawed. The reason is that it introduces a ‘concept’ into the framework that is not really a concept at all. At best, this achieves nothing – at worst, it leads to confusion.” He added: “The problem is that prudence is in substance defined in a way that adds nothing to the concept of neutrality. As defined, prudence essentially means ‘make sure to be neutral’.“Given that the framework defines neutrality already, there is nothing to be gained from the introduction of an additional ‘concept’ that has no distinctive meaning.”The UK Financial Reporting Council has also called on the IASB to bite the bullet and adopt asymmetric prudence.The reintroduction to the Conceptual Framework of a specific reference to prudence is very welcome.However, the treatment of it in the exposure draft — as support for the idea of neutrality — is wholly inadequate.“The essence of prudence is the idea referred to in the Basis for Conclusions as ‘asymmetric prudence’ — a lower threshold for the recognition of liabilities and losses than for assets and gains — which is absent from the text of the draft Conceptual Framework itself.”The IASB is expected to fix the future strategy for finalising the conceptual framework project at its April meeting.last_img read more

Blood and sport: the samurai slashing that brought rugby to Japan

first_imgThe founders of the Yokohama club proposed that “hacking”, or kicking opponents, be banned, while early match reports underlined the prevalence of drop-kicking in those days.“Mr. Abbott having caught the ball made a good run through his opponents and, with a fine drop kick, scored a goal,” reads one report from the 1873 Japan Weekly Mail.Rugby gained a more solid foothold in Japan at the turn of the century when two Cambridge University alumni, Edward Bramwell Clarke and the Japanese player Ginnosuke Tanaka, introduced the game at Keio University in Tokyo.With more Japanese taking up the game, the sport’s popularity grew quickly with crowds of 20,000 attending matches in the early 1930s, according to Galbraith.– ‘Not so healthy’ –The Japan Rugby Football Union was formed in 1926 and a national team played its first overseas matches on a tour to Canada in 1930.In modern history, the Japanese team have been ever-present at the Rugby World Cup since the first edition in 1987, where they narrowly lost to the United States before suffering a 60-7 hammering at the hands of England.The World Cup has seen extreme highs and lows for Japan, from a record 145-17 loss to the All Blacks in 1995 to the competition’s greatest ever upset when the “Brave Blossoms” beat the mighty Springboks 34-32 in 2015 — dubbed the “Miracle of Brighton.”Organisers hope hosting this year’s competition will accelerate the development of rugby in Japan and Asia more widely, but low attendances for club rugby and the ejection of the Tokyo-based Sunwolves from Super Rugby have raised doubts.And what of rugby now at the Yokohama club, where it all began?“The status today is not so healthy,” sighs Galbraith speaking to AFP at the club, which proudly displays Japan’s oldest rugby trophy and numerous team photos on its wood-panelled walls.A dearth of members from traditional rugby-playing nations has hit the club hard, he says. “It’s more difficult to put out a 15-a-side team to play rugby.”Share on: WhatsApp The Yokohama Club is one of the world’s oldest rugby clubsYokohama, Japan | AFP | When 70,000 fans cram into Japan’s Yokohama stadium for the Rugby World Cup final, few will be aware of the area’s rich rugby history which stretches back more than 150 years and includes one of the world’s oldest clubs.It all started in the early 1860s when Britain sent troops to Yokohama to protect its subjects after samurai warriors slashed to death a British trader — and some of their 19th century officers turned out to be rugby fans.According to historian Mike Galbraith, who has extensively studied Japanese rugby’s early history, the first mention of the game being played dates to 1863, only 40 years after Rugby School student William Webb Ellis famously “took the ball in his arms and ran with it”, giving birth to the sport.As military tensions eased, the bored officers — many of them from British public schools like Rugby — took to the oval ball to pass the time.“They started playing every afternoon because the troubles subsided and so they didn’t really have anything to do. In December 1864, there’s evidence they were playing every afternoon with a few of the civilians,” Galbraith told AFP.Two years later, in 1866, more than 40 of these early rugby players banded together to found the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. A Japanese newspaper report from January 26, 1866, records the official establishment.“As we happen to have two or three Rugby and Winchester men in the Community, we may be certain that we shall have really good scientific play,” said an editorial in the Japan Times.This evidence leads Galbraith to claim that Yokohama may be one of the world’s first “Open” clubs — meaning that unlike a university or school, anyone can join.“The Yokohama Country and Athletic Club appears at present to be the oldest open club in the world with contemporaneous documentary evidence of its founding,” he said.– ‘Very unique’ –There are rugby clubs that are older, acknowledges Galbraith, but they lack such strong evidence describing their creation.“In the case of the Yokohama Foot Ball Club, there is a newspaper printed that very day describing what time it was and who the key people were and what the motions were. That’s very unique,” he said.The game then was very different to the fast-flowing sport played by professional athletes on display during the Rugby World Cup, which culminates on November 2 in Yokohama.last_img read more