Independent Schwab financial advisers now have access to Envestnet’s cloud-based billing solution called Redi2 BillFinsolution.
Advisers that are part of Schwab Advisor Solutions can now use Envestnet’s billing solution for capabilities including flexible billing setup, standardized templates and reminders and alerts, the companies said.
“Our enhanced integration with BillFin further demonstrates the depth and breadth of our third-party technology capabilities, enabling advisers to choose and combine technology that best meets their needs,” Kartik Srinivasan, head of third-party integrations at Schwab Digital Advisor Solutions, said in a press release.
The BillFin system is currently used by more than 670 advisory firms and is designed to help in areas including operational efficiencies, identifying and plugging fee leaks and simplifying user experience and workflow to minimize errors and shorten billing cycles.
AICPA and CIMA, which together run the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, are offering a new certificate focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting and assurance. The associations said the growing demand for ESG data from investors, lenders, customers and policymakers makes ESG a high-priority category for accountants.
The Fundamentals of ESG Certificate is geared toward CPAs, management accountants such as CGMAs and finance professionals looking to obtain baseline knowledge of ESG topics. The course takes nine hours and graduates will get a digital badge they can display on their online profiles, the associations said.
“Business reporting and the underlying concepts of enterprise value are evolving rapidly, and no group is more essential to instilling trust and integrity into that process than accountants,” Susan S. Coffey, CIMA’s CEO of public accounting, said in a press release.
The program will include:
Digital retirement plan provider ShareBuilder 401k is waiving 401(k) plan setup pricing for all new clients during December.
Sharebuilder said that from December 1 through December 22, companies with more than one employee can save up to $995 in setup costs by starting a small business 401(k) plan, and self-employed business owners can start a solo 401(k) plan without paying the standard setup charge of $150.
“Running a small business can be especially challenging during this period of economic uncertainty,” Stuart Robertson, CEO of ShareBuilder 401k, said in a press release. “We want to help entrepreneurs keep more of their hard-earned money by making it easier for them to start a 401(k) and receive all the benefits.”
BMO has partnered with United Way Worldwide to offer a free financial literacy eBook aiming to help bridge the financial literacy gap among Americans. The digital resource addresses financial Topics with tips to help people make real financial progress, including budgeting, debt and credit management, digital banking, homeownership, loans and retirement planning, the organizations said.
For the last two years, BMO and United Way have collaborated to identify ways to enhance communication with consumers and ensure financial information and guidance is provided in an easy-to-digest format. Included in the partnership was a joint survey that found an overwhelming number of United Way clients were interested in additional financial literacy help.
A recent BMO Real Financial Progress Index survey found that financial confidence is declining, with only 39% of Americans stating they feel more financially secure than they were a year ago—down 11 points since last year. Meanwhile, 54% of Americans said they are making financial progress—down 8 points from last year—and 25% do not track financial progress at all.
UBS launched a wealth analysis and reporting platform for ultra-high-net-worth investors in partnership with software and technology providers Addepar and Mirador. The platform provides a consolidated, real-time view of a portfolio across assets and liabilities, including traditional, non-traditional and illiquid assets, the firms said.
UBS financial advisers will have access to the platform’s analytics, which are designed to help them visualize their clients’ investment performance, cash flows and worth, while assessing the opportunities and risks across their portfolios.
Addepar’s data, analysis and reporting capabilities will also help UBS advisers consolidate clients’ performance calculations presented in a graphic interface to unlock additional insights on returns and investment trends. As part of the Addepar system, Mirador’s financial data technology experts will support UBS advisers with data management, custom visualization and tailored reporting, as well as operations and system maintenance.
Ameriprise Financial has partnered with Dalton Education to create a first-to-market Certified Military Financial Advisor™(CMFA) certification, the companies said.
The certification is earned through a mix of training and learning development modules typically completed over the course of 40-50 hours. The program is designed to teach a deep understanding of the unique life circumstances and the benefits available to veterans, active duty military, reserve and National Guard members and their families.
CMFA certification is available exclusively to Ameriprise advisers through June 2024. After that, the certification will be available to all qualifying advisers in the industry. The program will be run with Dalton Education, an education solutions provider for financial services professionals.
Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. announced a new plan design summary tool available on its ftwilliam.com site, the information and software solutions company said in a press release. The new tool enables retirement service plan providers to track plan installation processes and deliver recommendations to plan sponsors during installation via ftwPortal Pro, a portal that provides users with secure, two-way access to plan documents, forms and other data.
The plan design tool was designed to streamline retirement plan installations and save users time, the company said. The tool features a detailed tracking log designed to help management stay informed during various steps of the plan installation process.
The tool’s global and plan-level dashboards will enable customers to view all plans and relevant data points. Users will also be able to create unlimited plan design templates based on their service model and available plan designs.
“Having developed this tool based on customer feedback, the Plan Design Summary is designed to simplify the complex installation process, which involves many parties and several stages,” Holly Roussel-Godfrey, senior technology project and program manager for Wolters Kluwer’s ftwilliam.com, said in a press release.
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AICPA & CIMA, which together form the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, are offering a new certificate that provides foundational knowledge on critical Topics related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting and assurance. The growing demand for ESG data – driven by investors, lenders, customers and, increasingly, policymakers – makes this a high priority category for skills development within the accounting profession.
The Fundamentals of ESG Certificate is available globally and is appropriate for CPAs, management accountants such as CGMAs, and finance professionals looking to obtain a baseline knowledge of ESG topics. The 9-hour course offers a grounding in the fundamental concepts of and latest developments within the ESG field. Upon completion, certificate holders can display a digital badge in their online profiles.
“When we talk about preparing the accounting profession for tomorrow, ESG is a core component,” said Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, AICPA & CIMA’s CEO of public accounting. “Business reporting and the underlying concepts of enterprise value are evolving rapidly, and no group is more essential to instilling trust and integrity into that process than accountants. Our obligation as a profession is to make sure we develop the necessary skills and expertise to lead the integration of ESG into the organization and deliver on high-quality reporting and assurance of ESG information.”
AICPA & CIMA are developing a detailed learning roadmap for ESG. As the first step on that journey, the Fundamentals of ESG Certificate program will provide course takers with the ability to:
Pricing and further details of the program are available on the certificate home page. For an array of other resources on sustainability and ESG, please visit aicpa.org/esg.
About the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, and AICPA & CIMA
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), representing AICPA & CIMA, advances the global accounting and finance profession through its work on behalf of 689,000 AICPA and CIMA members, students and engaged professionals in 196 countries and territories. Together, we are the worldwide leader on public and management accounting issues through advocacy, support for the CPA license and specialized credentials, professional education and thought leadership. We build trust by empowering our members and engaged professionals with the knowledge and opportunities to be leaders in broadening prosperity for a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the world’s largest member association representing the CPA profession, sets ethical standards for its members and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, not-for-profit organizations, and federal, state and local governments. It also develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination and builds the pipeline of future talent for the public accounting profession.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is the world’s leading and largest professional body of management accountants. CIMA works closely with employers and sponsors leading-edge research, constantly updating its professional qualification and professional experience requirements to ensure it remains the employer’s choice when recruiting financially trained business leaders.
New learning suite offers expert training on alternative investments for financial professionals
SAN MATEO, Calif., November 30, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Franklin Templeton Academy today announced the launch of its Alternatives Education program, a robust learning suite aimed to help financial professionals expand their knowledge of alternative investments and navigate the growing space with confidence. The program offers a comprehensive curriculum on various types of alternatives, including courses on private equity, real estate, private credit, infrastructure and hedge strategies.
"The Franklin Templeton Academy is excited to offer our Alternatives Education program as part of our ongoing effort to build knowledge and proficiency around the ever-evolving alternatives investment landscape," said Barry Kruse, Global Head of the Franklin Templeton Academy. "Our curriculum delivers deep understanding around alternatives, as well as continuing education credit for financial professionals. And it is available in across multiple formats so learners can study as they prefer."
The Alternatives Education program is offered in a variety of program modalities to create a personalized learning experience, including in-person and on-site classes, interactive webinars, self-paced e-learning modules, and pre-recorded video. The program also offers background sheets and workbooks to supplement and bolster the learning experience.
Course content is developed and delivered by experts in the alternatives industry. Coursework is eligible for credit toward Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants® (CIMA®), Retirement Management Advisor® (RMA®) and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certifications and offered at no cost to the learner.
"With today’s market volatility, geopolitical risks, and 40-year highs in inflation, financial professionals need a more sophisticated toolbox to help their clients meet their long-term financial goals," said Shane Clifford, Senior Managing Director, Alternative Strategies at Franklin Templeton. "As advisors increasingly look to integrate alternative investments into their portfolios, we are committed to providing advanced education on and building proficiency in using these versatile and valuable investment strategies."
"The single largest piece of feedback we hear from advisors and home offices is the need for education, specifically around private market asset classes, vehicle structure, and their role in a portfolio," added Dave Donahoo, Co-Head of U.S. Wealth Management at Franklin Templeton. "For that reason, we are very proud to release Alternatives Education by the Franklin Templeton Academy, the educational pillar of Alternatives by Franklin Templeton. We believe our decades-long history of helping advisors solve problems, combined with our position as one of the largest managers of alternatives, enables us to help solve for this need."
The Franklin Templeton Academy has offered continuing education for financial professionals and investors worldwide for more than 15 years. Over the past three years, The Academy has reached 110,000 learners in 30 countries and 16 languages, offering more than 40 courses in investment concepts and practice management.
This press release, and the information contained herein, is provided for discussion purposes only and is not intended as, and may not be relied on in any manner, as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to purchase or a recommendations of an interest in any security or investment vehicle. Any such offer may only be made pursuant to the delivery of formal offering documents. Alternative investments are complex, speculative investment vehicles and are not suitable for all investors. An investment in an alternative investment entails a high degree of risk and no assurance can be given that any alternative investment's investment objectives will be achieved or that investors will receive a return of their capital. Franklin Templeton makes no representation or warranties with respect to the information provided such information should not be relied upon in connection with an investment decision or for any other reason whatsoever.
All Investments involve risk, including loss of principal. Past performance is not guaranteed of future results.
About Franklin Templeton
Franklin Resources, Inc. [NYSE:BEN] is a global investment management organization with subsidiaries operating as Franklin Templeton and serving clients in over 155 countries. Franklin Templeton’s mission is to help clients achieve better outcomes through investment management expertise, wealth management and technology solutions. Through its specialist investment managers, the company offers boutique specialization on a global scale, bringing extensive capabilities in equity, fixed income, multi-asset solutions and alternatives. With offices in more than 30 countries and approximately 1,300 investment professionals, the California-based company has 75 years of investment experience and approximately $1.3 trillion in assets under management as of October 31, 2022. For more information, please visit franklintempleton.com and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Copyright © 2022. Franklin Templeton. All rights reserved.
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Franklin Templeton Corporate Communications:
Rebecca Radosevich, (212) 632-3207, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Janine was born in Venezuela and educated in the United States. She began her career 25 years ago on the foreign equity arbitrage desk, where she took advantage of her language skillsSpanish, French, and Portugueseto gain insight into emerging markets. She earned her CIMA® and became part of an elite group to receive the qualification as an advanced investment consultant. She has spent the majority of her career advising institutional clients with their investment portfoliosproviding industry leading advice, delivering personalized institutional consulting services and ongoing due diligence and reporting. Also, it is Janines relationships in the industry that provide access to specialists that keep the groups financial strategy current with the latest innovations.
During the past two years, we’ve witnessed Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, a clogged global supply chain, rising prices at the gas pump and in grocery stores, soaring housing costs, and increased spending as the COVID-19 pandemic eased. These societal upheavals, coupled with inflation, are causing the stock market to fluctuate, along with interest rates, as the federal government labors to steady the economy.
The fallout from these events will continue to affect the accounting profession, businesses, and taxpayers in 2023, said Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing AICPA & CIMA. “Rising to those challenges means committing to rapid responses to the marketplace; continuing to embrace innovation, agility, and our commitment to continuous reinvention; and remaining invested in the digital world and technological advances,” he said. “For 2023 the focus will be on finding and retaining talent, the impact of inflation, accelerated digital transformation, maintaining culture, broadened corporate reporting, and service development.”
Here’s how experts in a variety of practice areas foresee the next year unfolding in accounting.
Technology, talent, and sustainability are three areas affecting audit firms today and into 2023, said AICPA chief auditor Jennifer Burns, CPA.
“Technology continues to impact how audits are performed as auditors adapt to client use of emerging technologies and integrate new solutions into their audit approach,” she said. “Talent also continues to be top of mind for auditors — from hiring new staff to retaining current talent and upskilling existing auditors to meet client needs.”
The demand for enhanced sustainability reporting and assurance continues to grow, Burns added.
“CPAs are the best positioned to provide assurance on ESG [environmental, social, and governance] information due to their expertise, professional standards, systems of quality management, objectivity, and independence requirements,” she said. “Further, practitioners who audit financial statements are the best positioned to also provide assurance on ESG information in a connected way, because auditors are already well acquainted with their clients’ companies and their processes and controls.”
Accountants in executive positions, including CEOs, CFOs, and controllers, are turning a pessimistic eye toward the U.S. and global economy in 2023, according to the third-quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey. They predict the organizations they work for will have zero profit growth in the next 12 months, and only 18% of them have a positive view of the U.S. economy.
Against this backdrop, management accountants will play crucial roles, said Tom Hood, CPA/CITP, CGMA, executive vice president–Business Engagement & Growth at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing AICPA & CIMA. Citing findings from the Future of Finance Leadership Advisory Group, he observed that management accountants will continue to evolve into “value partners” or “chief future officers” who help CEOs set the direction for their organizations.
Finding and retaining talent will be one of organizations’ major concerns in 2023, Hood said, along with investing in digital transformation, which was accelerated due to the pandemic. Finance professionals, he said, will need to “upskill and reskill to keep up with digital transformation.” In particular, he said, the Future of Finance group identified agility as a top skill finance professionals need to cultivate to keep up with the accelerating pace of business.
Sustainability and ESG “will become part of the organizational fabric” of businesses in the near future, Hood said, and management accountants are eager to “move beyond reporting” in this space to add value to their organizations. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is also a priority for senior finance leaders, he said, mentioning the AICPA’s new Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners as an initiative that can help Improve diversity in the profession.
Staffing innovations will be the biggest headline in 2023, said Jennifer Wilson of Bellevue, Neb., partner and co-founder of ConvergenceCoaching LLC.
“More firms will try nontraditional staffing strategies, including offshoring, outsourcing, fractional staffing, hiring retirees and stay-at-home moms, and adding strong client-facing operational and administrative resources to manage client expectations and the client experience within their service delivery workstream,” she said.
One of the big winners in 2023 may be the solo or small practitioner who could benefit from the client-culling efforts of larger firms by trading their client base up but keeping it manageable, and establishing higher fees and higher-quality relationships, Wilson added.
And consolidation will be on the rise as leaders at small and medium-size firms feel increasing pressure to move their succession and buyout challenges to larger firms, she said.
Wilson noted that the difference between firms that will thrive and those that will falter will be the degree of self-interest with which the leaders make decisions that affect their firms and their future.
“The firms that continue to allow existing partner compensation processes, long-held partner buy/sell expectations, and the desire of traditionalist partners to maintain control until they retire may find they are risking their overall sustainability,” Wilson said.
Top of mind for tax professionals will be the Inflation Reduction Act, P.L. 117-169, which was signed into law in August. Brenda Graat, CPA, a partner with Baker Tilly in Milwaukee, said that while the Inflation Reduction Act will result in significant changes in 2023, it was not as far-reaching as anticipated.
“The act did not modify a large number of items, but one positive aspect of it is the renewable energy credits to offset costs and reduce carbon emissions,” she said.
The Inflation Reduction Act also includes the new 15% alternative minimum tax for corporations with a three-year average adjusted financial statement income in excess of $1 billion.
Declining capacity and expanded services are stressing day-to-day workloads at many accounting firms. To help alleviate that workload stress, automation will continue to be a prominent trend in 2023, said Wesley Hartman, founder at Automata Practice Development, director of technology at Kirsch Kohn & Bridge in Los Angeles, and a contributor to the JofA’s Technology Q&A column.
“I think RPA [robotic process automation] is going to help firms compensate for the capacity problems we have in the industry right now and in the future as our work continues to grow and become more complicated,” Hartman said.
Technology is helping firms continue to build out their advisory practices, said Jim Bourke, CPA/CFF/CITP, CGMA, managing director, advisory services with Withum, who works out of the firm’s Red Bank, N.J., office. “I believe in 2023 we will continue to see firms get their technology house in order with best-of-breed technologies from around the globe,” he said.
Remote work and training environments are “here to stay,” Bourke said. “I believe firms will settle into what the future of the profession will look like, and with this in mind, technologies that support this continuing hybrid model of work will continue to enter our profession.”
Robust internal controls will be at the forefront of organizations’ concerns in 2023, driving a need for forensic accounting expertise, according to Ernest Patrick Smith, CPA/ABV/CFF, owner and senior partner at Nawrocki Smith on Long Island, N.Y.
He warns a possible recession could result in staff reductions that would create compliance challenges for many firms as they struggle to maintain internal controls.
“If organizations cut workforce, they won’t have the kinds of employees they need on the front lines,” Smith said. “And I think, as we head into 2023, the need for forensic accountants skilled in internal controls as they relate to compliance will be at an all-time high.”
Smith predicts that many organizations will need to look more closely at their processes to ensure they’re adhering to tax rules and requirements.
He also cites growing risks related to white-collar crime, including identify theft, employee fraud, and insurance fraud, and he recommends firms explore digital tools to help protect themselves.
As firms increasingly combine data analytics and AI tools with effective internal controls, they will be able to extract, visualize, and analyze large amounts of data to predict cyber threats and put strategies in place to ward them off, he said.
“Cybersecurity is of utmost importance to people everywhere,” he said. “Firms must have the right kinds of controls built into their systems to be able to ward off a cyberattack.”
PERSONAL FINANCIAL PLANNING
The turbulent economic environment, including inflation, rising interest rates, and the Great Resignation, will continue to affect personal financial planning as we head into 2023, said Chris Benson, CPA/PFS, principal at L.K. Benson & Company in Towson, Md.
Pending legislation will also be at the forefront of CPA financial planners’ minds, with the SECURE Act 2.0 (the Securing a Strong Retirement Act, H.R. 2954) a piece of legislation likely to be passed late this year or next year, he added.
“From an economic perspective, I think we are all curious to see how long the current inflationary environment stays in place and how much longer the Fed will increase interest rates and whether this will push us into a recession,” Benson said.
Customized investing is also a growing trend, he said. “Investment brokerage firms have eliminated transaction fees on stocks, and many now offer fractionalized investing,” he observed, “both of which have combined to lead to more customized investing options for consumers.”
“Direct indexing and customized investing are already playing out, and I expect it to continue to expand over the next year,” he said.
He added that many asset classes now are available for people to invest in that used to be available only to high-net-worth investors, and companies are allowing individuals to buy small shares of real estate, rental properties, artwork, collectibles, and other items. These have been popular investment products.
“There has been a flood of money pouring into these types of companies, and investors need to tread carefully,” he said.
The coming year, marking the final months before the revised CPA exam comes online in 2024, will be a year of transition for many college and university accounting programs, said Houston-based Jan Taylor, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., academic in residence and senior director–Academic & Student Engagement at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, representing AICPA & CIMA.
“Educators, as they continue to prepare students for the changing environment of the profession and the revised exam, will be working to incorporate available technologies and how they are used in practice into their curriculum,” she said.
Among the areas faculty will place greater focus on are data analytics, cybersecurity, risk management, and other Topics graduates will be expected to be familiar with when they enter the profession.
And students will need to know how to tap into technology including advanced Excel, machine learning, RPA, and data visualization software, she added.
AICPA & CIMA have spent months helping educators prepare to teach these newer topics.
“Now, and into 2023, educators can participate in webinars, faculty discussion hours, and they can access a resource hub to locate materials we’ve curated, including articles, case studies, white papers, and other content,” she said.
Taylor expects 2023 to be a growth year for the CPA exam as a greater volume of students are likely to sit for the current exam rather than take the new one in 2024.
“We know that whenever an exam goes through any significant change, there is often a spike in participants before that change takes place,” she said.
With the SEC poised to release a final rule regarding climate-related disclosures and the IFRS Foundation preparing to finalize the first two standards in a global baseline for the reporting of sustainability-related financial information, 2023 is setting up to be a year of learning for accounting professionals.
"Sustainability Disclosures Priorities for 2023," a recent webcast co-sponsored by AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, brought together industry leaders to discuss what to expect and how to prepare.
While accounting professionals in the United States recognize the potential impact of the SEC's proposed rule, some might wonder whether the IFRS Foundation's sustainability standards will affect them. The webcast, co-sponsored by the IFRS Foundation (IFRS), as well as the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) and CPA Canada, set out to make the connection.
Keynote speaker Sue Lloyd is vice chair of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), which was formed by the IFRS a year ago and is responsible for the exposure drafts being finalized for release by IFRS as early as possible in 2023.
"We're working really hard to make sure that our global baseline can be made available to benefit investors and companies around the world, but we're really aware that we need to be interoperable with jurisdictional needs," Lloyd said. "So, if you look at the U.S., the SEC in the U.S. is looking out to make sure that U.S. investor needs are met, and Europe is looking at public policy needs. We want to make sure that our baseline can form the underlying framework or building block that can be built on by jurisdictions like Europe and the U.S. to meet their particular jurisdictional needs.
"To facilitate that, we've set up a jurisdictional working group — a group with countries that includes the U.S. and Europe but also the U.K., Japan, and China, and with IOSCO [International Organization of Securities Commissions] — the international securities regulators — as observers. The whole purpose of that forum is to get those countries to assist us, along with others, to build a global baseline that we can all get behind."
Added Scott Bandura, partner, national and global accounting consulting services, PwC Canada: "It's important that companies that have a global presence think about subsidiaries for example in some of the jurisdictions that are adopting ISSB standards. Will those be captured in the scope? Obviously, that's still in flux in terms of how those standards would be applied in local regulatory jurisdictions, but it's something to keep on top of, certainly."
Along the same lines, Bandura pointed out the possible impact on U.S. companies of the European Parliament's accurate adoption of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
"The scope of the EU standards is very broad, and there could be some North American companies that are captured in that," he said. "For example, from a non-EU parent company, in certain cases that parent company — if they are an in-scope European subsidiary and if they have revenue of more than €150 million generated as a group in the EU — there could be some consolidated global reporting requirement. So even though it's a non-EU parent, in some cases, consolidated global reporting may be required."
The webcast opened with a panel discussion featuring ESG leaders at their respective U.S. companies.
Richard Manley, managing director and head of sustainable investing for CPP Investments, also serves as chair of the ISSB Advisory Group. While the formation of the ISSB by IFRS may have helped clear the way for a global baseline for sustainability reporting, Manley said that, from the perspective of investors seeking reliable sustainability information, there's still much to be done.
"We are still in a situation today where the voluntary nature of ESG reporting means that I don't have a single datapoint reported comprehensively across the globe that's reported on the same basis and is independently assured for any sector," he said "I'm living in a world effectively somewhere along the lines of 1940s, 1950s financial reporting. Unfortunately, I don't have a century to wait, so we need to see an acceleration of forms of ESG reporting that gets us where we need to be in pretty quick time.
"That's why we've been so supportive of the decision to stand up the ISSB and move this from a voluntary framework to a standard that regulators can engage in and enforce across the globe."
Sophia Mendelsohn, chief sustainability officer and head of ESG at Cognizant, and Beth Sasfai, senior vice president, corporate governance and chief ESG officer at Verizon, followed up with steps that companies should consider taking now — related to technology but also to human capital — in anticipation of the fast-approaching releases by the SEC and IFRS.
"Issuers, we're saying, 'We spend too much time on this. It's too confusing. It's too time-consuming. I'm reporting instead of creating change management and impact,'" Mendelsohn said. "And then you have investors like Richard saying, 'Great, you're spending too much time on it? I still don't have a single useful datapoint.' I think the way through this in part is consolidation through IFRS as Richard mentioned, but also technology on the issuers' behalf.
"What people like Beth and I are doing in our organizations right now are saying, 'Sustainability? ESG? We got what we asked for. We're coming into the law. We're coming into regulatory reporting. Investors care. Now what?' Now we realize that we're actually not prepared on the issuers' side.
"The number one thing I would recommend from a technology perspective is automating your carbon emissions. Your carbon footprint, whatever industry you're in, is the most heavily scrutinized piece of data, the most likely to be included in any regulatory environment, both in the U.S. and in the EU, and the one you should be moving from no audit to limited audit to reasonable assurance."
Said Sasfai: "One of the most instrumental things that I think companies are doing right now is making sure that there's a real partnership between finance and internal audit and ESG. For us at Verizon, we've set up a cross-functional team that's really focused on standardizing our ESG data governance. We are working on automating data-governing processes where possible, trying to get that data to be more reliable and trying to be able to get that data a little quicker as we try to think about things like measuring emissions."
Sasfai echoed Manley's call for a global baseline as soon as possible, saying, "It would be very helpful to have a standardized process and to have something quickly."
To that end, COSO's universally utilized Internal Control — Integrated Framework is being updated to bring consistency to sustainability reporting.
Bob Hirth, senior managing partner at Protiviti, was COSO chair at the time of the framework's last update in 2013. He's co-authoring this update, and he shared on the webcast that he's hopeful it will be released in January.
"Obviously we all know today that financial reporting is integral to understanding any company, but we also now know that reporting is not adequate or enough, so we've seen the expansion of corporate reporting to now include sustainability reporting or ESG reporting or corporate social responsibility reporting. So the obvious question comes up, 'What about the verifiability of that information?'" Hirth said. "The COSO board concluded there was a need to provide some additional guidance as to how you take that really good COSO 2013 internal control framework that has been used so extensively around the world for financial reporting — how do you apply that to sustainability reporting? That's the crux of our project."
Bob Herz, former chair of FASB, also is a co-author. He was involved in COSO's initial look at sustainability reporting in 2017.
"The COSO board came to us earlier this year and said, 'Gee, it would be great to expand and update that 2017 study.' So that's what we're doing," Herz said. "We've interviewed hundreds of people, seen what lots of companies are doing, talked to the accounting firms and many others involved in sustainability reporting, and we continue to believe that accountants — whether you're inside a company as finance and accounting folks or internal audit or external audit — you need to get engaged in this subject. Really the world needs you."
If you're looking for more help with your preparations for ESG requirements, the new Fundamentals of ESG Certificate offers a comprehensive introduction to ESG and sustainability reporting.
— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Bryan Strickland at Bryan.Strickland@aicpa-cima.com.
By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera
Followed by a stormy annual general meeting (AGM), serious question are been raised by stakeholders of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Sri Lanka regarding the corporate governance issues happening at its office.
On Thursday night CIMA had its 20th AGM followed by cocktails and dinner to inaugurate its new President, Gowri Shankar Somasundaram, which had most of the 500 plus invitees expressing horror at what was happening at an institute, which guarded governance and ethicality as pristine.
Longest ever AGM
“The AGM was the longest ever in the 43 year-old history of CIMA Sri Lanka,” an invitee who is also a Past President said. The AGM had taken such a long time and when members had questioned CIMA Sri Lanka accounts, both Aruna Fernando, immediate Past President and Bradley Emerson, CEO CIMA Sri Lanka were unable to answer.
“The CIMA accounts have been audited by H.L.B. Edirisinghe and Company, an audit firm. But the CEO was unable to deliver the breakdown of some information that was requested by the membership. This prevented the accounts being passed at the AGM by the members,” a member who was present at the AGM said.
He said certain cost items had escalated during the last CIMA financial year. As a result the membership had requested an Extra – ordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be held to clarify the accounts. “A new committee has been appointed by the CIMA council to look at what has happened with the accounts. They will look into the ‘grey’ areas of the accounts and thereafter present them to the membership at an EGM,” he said, adding this will happen within a month’s time.
The AGM had also taken a new turn with the CIMA Council deciding to pass a resolution before the AGM regarding the ‘mismanagement of CIMA Sri Lanka’ at the local divisional Council meeting. “The resolution related to four serious governance issues,” a CIMA member said.
Blocking Director Operations (DO), Aruna Alwis’ official e-mail account, sending an auto reply on his e-mail saying he is unavailable without Alwis being aware of it when he was still in office, suspending Alwis without informing the Council and not presenting the monthly CIMA Sri Lanka accounts to the Council despite many requests by the Council were these governance issues.
"The Council had resolved to bring these issues to the CIMA UK Council and CIMA Global CEO Charles Tilly while requesting them to empower the local Divisional Council to manage the affairs of CIMA Sri Lanka," the member noted, adding that the Council had further agreed to table this resolution at the AGM.
He said the process took place early this week and when it was informed to CIMA UK, the office bearers there had resisted taking the governance issues to the 'wider' membership, saying it was 'unlawful'. "They had said that before a resolution was tabled at an AGM, the membership needs to be informed. So, it was not in the agenda for the AGM."
However, Thursday saw a big commotion at the CIMA AGM, when the members had brought the issue up. "The immediate past President, Mr. Fernando had then mentioned that the Council had passed a resolution and they wanted it read out at the AGM. This happened when the membership had requested to read out the resolution, as they insisted they need to be aware of what was going on. They said the local Council is appointed by the CIMA membership. Therefore it is the Council's duty to inform such wider issues to the members," the member explained.
Meanwhile, U.N. Jinasena, a Past President had spoken at the meeting about the injustices and unfair play with regard to Mr. Alwis being suspended. A past CIMA Council member said the Council has the control over the affairs of the division. "The present Council plans to open up dialogue with CIMA UK regarding affairs here. They in London have given an assurance that it will be done collaboratively," he said.
He said the local Council had requested CIMA London to follow the correct procedure. "London has promised a full investigation before a final decision is taken on behalf of Mr. Alwis," he added.
Mr. Jinasena noted the attempts by both the local Secretariat and London Office to push Mr. Alwis out from his employment can be duly interpreted as malicious. He pointed out that it is inconceivable that the London Office has opted or supported to resort to this type of ‘twisting the elbow’ techniques without following the standard procedures followed by even the second tier companies in Sri Lanka according to the accepted laws of this country.
“If Mr. Alwis is guilty of misconduct or any other offence there is the accepted procedure of instituting disciplinary procedures against him. In fact it is his right to be heard. It is not clear why a leading professional accounting institute of international standing professing good governance has taken this tragic course of action defeating its own advocacy of good governance and adherence to the law,” he said.
A Past President said that both the local office and the London Office will have to consider carefully the serious fallout from such legal actions. “If actions by CIMA have been unfair, unjust and malicious may compel Mr. Alwis to the option of litigation,” he said. He said the London office may exercise some supervision over matters at the local Secretariat but the CEO should not have unbridled powers.
There are allegations that the CEO reported matters of importance – like in the case of Mr Alwis’ suspension – to the London office and not the Colombo council/Exco.
Interestingly Rick Sturge, Director Employer and Strategy from CIMA UK had attended the CIMA AGM. "He was more of an observer and the membership had suspected he had visited Sri Lanka to take assessment of the situation," the past Council member said.
A top business leader, who is also a CIMA member, had expressed disappointment at what was happening with regard to Mr. Alwis' appointment at CIMA. "CIMA discourages petty politics. It is a professional body. I fail to understand why certain information was suppressed from the Council and why they were not informed, when a decision was taken to terminate Mr. Alwis," he hold The Sunday Times FT at the dinner function to felicitate Mrs. Somasundaram. "Usually the Council officials are consulted, which was not done in this case and above all there was an indecent hurry to suspend him during the last CIMA financial year (when Mr. Fernando was the President), which is strange," he noted.
At the AGM, Dian Gomes, CIMA Past President and eminent business leader, heading some MAS group companies had noted the important of greater transparency in CIMA Sri Lanka affairs.
To a question posed by The Sunday Time FT at the media conference organised on Friday to introduce Mrs. Somasundaram, the new president said CIMA CEO has key performance indicators to meet and that the division is managed by him.
However she along with Viren Wijesinghe, CIMA Divisional Deputy President and Melanie Kanaka, CIMA Divisional Vice President refused to comment on any issue pertaining to the AGM. When Mr. Emerson was asked by The Sunday Times FT, he flatly refused to comment about Mr. Alwis' suspension saying, it is inappropriate to comment on a staff matter.
Ms. Somasundaram was elected as the 36th President of CIMA Sri Lanka Division at its 20th AGM, making her the second woman to head this premier institution in Sri Lanka, and also the third woman President worldwide.
Interestingly, accepting the Presidency, Ms. Somasundaram said her vision was to reinforce the professional excellence of the fraternity. “Profession First is a theme that I will be devoted to. My year will be dedicated to the advancement of the Management Accountancy Profession, to equip, elevate and enrich it”.
Some members were skeptical, saying maybe CIMA needs to look internally and iron out the current issues. She further stated, “Our discipline is in the business of creating value. Value Creation is the foundation of any business. We will advocate ‘thought leadership’ through Technical Forums where new ideas will be encouraged. We will also be driving discussions as to the enhancement of the profession in the Public Sector by facilitating our discipline to be introduced through new initiatives.
She also highlighted that business today demands intelligent and insightful professionals with a strategic vision. “Students are our future wealth. Student development and growth will thus be a major focus in developing the ideal professional the world demands”, she added.
New CIMA President
Functioning as Advisor and Business Partner to His Royal Highness Prince Mish’al BinMohammed Bin Saud Bin Abdul Aziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since February 2006, Ms. Somasundaram has been participating in business development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Region.
Consultant and Representative of the Gulf Bureau for Research and Economic consultations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ms. Somasundaram will soon take office as Country President for Kampac Group of Companies for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Kampac is a group of companies in the Middle East with representation in 20 countries mainly in the oil industry, infrastructure and real estate development, telecommunications and hospitality. She is also developing a Finance and Restructuring Consulting Company in the Bahrain mainly for the SME sector. She travels widely to GCC countries consulting in International Finance and Business Development
How Aruna Alwis was suspended
The Sunday Times FT learns that Hayley Macdonald from the HR section of CIMA London Office together with Mr. Emerson had met with Mr. Alwis and had informed him that she was carrying a message from Mr. Charles Tilly, CEO,CIMA London that Mr. Alwis must tender his resignation and that they will compensate him with a salary of 12 months. Further, Ms Macdonald wanted Mr. Alwis to leave office then and there, all of Mr. Alwis had refused to do. Also a subsequent request to Mr. Alwis to deliver his decision (on that particular afternoon) also had been turned down by him as he needed time to respond to a matter involving his career and the future.
Mr Alwis was not available for comment but his colleagues say he is contemplating legal action against CIMA depending on the outcome of an inquiry that CIMA has said it will conduct.
School models are, for the most part, outdated–and very overdue for replacement. When students reach high school, research shows that close to 66 percent of students are disengaged. But even students who do successfully navigate their schooling emerge with only a specific (and often narrow) skillset that may or may not match their strengths or interests.
Conventional schooling often leaves students disillusioned, questioning their intelligence and value as it is framed by a system that needs an overhaul.
Learner-centered education can play a critical role in reshaping education systems, offering a more holistic approach to meeting learners’ needs and helping students find fulfillment in their academic accomplishments.
K-12 Value Networks: The Hidden Forces That Help or Hinder Learner-Centered Education, a new report from the Clayton Christensen Institute and authored by CCI senior research fellow Thomas Arnett, offers insight into understanding why schools struggle to change their instructional models, along with tips to establish and support learner-centered education models.
Program leaders, sponsors, learners and their families, staff, community partners, and funders are all critical to the success of these learner-centered education models.
The report describes how five different learner-centered education models–The Met, Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, Iowa BIG, Village High School, and Embark Education–were able to launch and grow their models by assembling value networks congruent with their vision for learner-centered education.
1. The Met: The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, known as The Met, is a network of six small, public high schools located in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island. The hallmark of The Met’s learner-centered model is that its learners go out in their communities for two days out of the week to lead real-world projects as interns for partner organizations. For example, learners might work with a local bakery, a law firm, a tech company, or a recording studio.
When learners join the Met, they and their families work with an advisor to identify their strengths, needs, and interests, and then develop an individualized learning plan with an internship as its centerpiece. Learners are responsible for researching potential internship opportunities and communicating with partner sites to arrange their internships. Advisors coach them as they do their research and outreach to ensure that internships match their needs and interests.
2. Virtual Learning Academy Charter School: The Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) is a statewide virtual school created in 2007 that serves K–12 learners throughout New Hampshire. The concept for the school came from the superintendent of the Exeter Region Cooperative School District, who saw an opportunity to take advantage of a new charter school law to apply for a statewide charter. Rather than create another conventional school, however, the superintendent recognized the distinctive value of using a virtual school model to offer a wide array of flexible, part-time and full-time learning options unavailable through brick-and-mortar campuses.
VLACS’s competency-based model is highly adaptable to learners’ needs and interests. It offers a range of options for learners to earn credits: through online courses, learner-designed projects, and out-of-school learning experiences such as internships and travel. Learners who take online courses move through those courses at their own pace and earn credit whenever they’re able to demonstrate mastery of designated competencies. For projects and other learning experiences, VLACS aligns these experiences with state learning standards and then measures learners’ mastery of standards using performance-based assessments.
What data tells us about student-centered learning
5 ways peer networks lead to better student support systems
By Rajiv Bansal
A country’s education system serves as the cornerstone for its future. A holistic education that includes exposure to both academic and extracurricular activities can create leaders across numerous sectors such as science, commerce, and the arts. The global education system has evolved over time and is now more diversified, adaptable, and inclusive in nature. In accurate times, students and parents are increasingly favouring international curriculum as it prepares them for global opportunities. Apart from global exposure, the option to choose from a wide range of subjects, including arts, sports, music, and theatre, is one of the primary reasons why parents are inclined toward an international curriculum. The international curriculum equips a student with skills, values, and knowledge to succeed in a globalised world. Hence, as a part of their effort to prepare students to be global citizens, more schools are introducing international curricula in India.
Why choose International Curriculum?
An international curriculum equips students with not just a thorough knowledge, but also an in-depth understanding of a variety of subjects. Such a curriculum brings forth a wide range of academic opportunities along with highly competitive abilities, which enable students to manage the demands of 21st-century learning during higher education and beyond.
International curriculum exposes students to diverse cultures and provides them with broader exposure
Compared to the national curriculum, an international curriculum incorporates cultures and norms from different countries, to allow students to have a deeper knowledge of people from diverse backgrounds, which eventually aids in their growth as accepting and understanding individuals. They naturally become adaptive, which allows them to feel comfortable in international settings. A lot of students prefer to complete their higher education abroad or seek out careers that allow them to work in international relations, and an international pedagogical approach aids students to become independent.
While traditional courses certainly provide students with a foundation from which they can build, they focus only on the fundamental disciplines and subjects such as English, Math and Science. Understandably offering students a limited scope. However, students who are enrolled in international curricula benefit from having a wider range of experiences. There are numerous options for subjects. For instance, a lower secondary course in Cambridge called Global Viewpoint introduces students to the idea of critically analysing all subjects while keeping a global perspective in mind.
International curriculum offers small class sizes, a personalised approach, and adheres to international standards
Programmes offered in an international curriculum adhere to a set of worldwide standards. With minimal or no disruption, students can transfer between international schools, enabling them to succeed in their studies no matter where they currently reside. Because of this consistency, parents feel confident in the fact that their children are receiving a well-rounded education that has been proven to be successful.
An additional advantage of some international curriculum programmes is their small class sizes. This is especially advantageous during the primary school years when students need more individual attention for academic growth. These programmes can be altered to meet the specific needs of the individual student. For instance, depending on the student’s strengths, the pace of the international curriculum programme may vary.
International curriculum provides pupils with possibilities for experiential learning and shapes them into global citizens
In almost all aspects of an international curriculum, students experience international exposure. Students learn to respect and appreciate people from all walks of life, through celebrations of other cultures as well as from hands-on learning and practical opportunities that take them into the community and introduce them to people of all backgrounds. By the time they complete higher education, they have a better understanding of the world around them and are at ease and feel competent working in international settings.
The majority of international curriculum places a strong focus on the value of experiential learning. International curricula developers contend that experiential hands-on learning is superior to lecture-based instruction for students of all ages. This inquiry-driven method of teaching differs significantly from other, more traditional programmes. In the end, an international curriculum assists students in acquiring the strategic abilities necessary to thrive in a globalised, competitive environment.
As a part of the international curriculum, students receive a broad, in-depth understanding of various subjects along with highly competitive skills needed for the 21st-century world. As the curricula offer a global perspective and better prepare students for a global economy, it is increasingly becoming popular among schools. Students who have participated in international curriculum frequently end up becoming global leaders because of the focus placed on abilities like teamwork, creativity, communication, and critical thinking.
The author is director-operations at Global Indian International School (GIIS), India. Views are personal.
Also Read: IIT Hyderabad in partnership with SVYRI announces MRD-Heritage Research Fellowships for PhD in Heritage Science and Technology
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