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Sharman Panel recommends improvements to reporting of going concern and liquidity risks

The Sharman Panel of Inquiry, established at the invitation of the Financial Reporting Council to consider Going Concern and Liquidity Risks: Lessons for companies and auditors, publishes its preliminary report and recommendations recently.

he Panel's key recommendations, on which it will now consult, are that the FRC should:

  • Establish protocols with BIS and other regulatory authorities that will enable it to take a more systematic approach to learning lessons relevant to the scope of its functions when significant companies fail, through assessing the underlying circumstances.
  • Harmonise and clarify the common purpose of the going concern assessment and disclosure process in the accounting standards and Code.
  • Require the going concern assessment process to focus on solvency risks as well as liquidity risks, whatever the business, including identifying risks to the entity’s business model or capital adequacy that could threaten its survival, over a period that has regard to the likely evolution of those risks given the current position in the economic cycle and the dynamics of its own business cycles. It should also include stress tests of liquidity and solvency.
  • Move away from a model where the company only highlights going concern risks when there are significant doubts about the entity’s survival, to one which integrates the directors’ going concern reporting with the directors’ discussion of strategy and principal risks.
  • Move away from the three category model for auditor reporting on going concern to an explicit statement in the auditor’s report that the auditor is satisfied that, having considered the assessment process, they have nothing to add to the disclosures made by the directors about the robustness of the process and its outcome.

Lord Sharman, Chairman of the Panel, said:

"The recommendations we are publishing today aim to capture key lessons from the recent past. Although this work emanates from the financial crisis, I hope there will be wide acceptance that companies in all sectors can do more to improve their management and disclosure of risks relating to going concern, liquidity and solvency.

“The aim of these disclosures is to provide information to stakeholders and they should be designed to encourage appropriate behaviours such as good risk decision-making, informing stakeholders about those risks and early identification and attention to economic and financial distress.

“Our report includes recommendations that involve companies, auditors, regulators and government and we look forward to engaging with the widest possible range of stakeholders to build a broad consensus on how to take forward these proposals."

Stephen Haddrill, Chief Executive of the Financial Reporting Council, said:

"The management and disclosure of key risks is an essential part of the role of an effective company board. Lord Sharman's inquiry has revealed the vital role directors and auditors must play in bringing short term liquidity risks and longer term, but no less important, solvency risks, to the attention of investors and other stakeholders.

"There is a clear connection between Lord Sharman's work and proposals from UK Government and the FRC. I hope the consultation period will provide a useful opportunity to assess how they fit together to improve both the quality of corporate reporting and the dialogue between investors and company boards."

A copy of the Preliminary Report and Recommendations may be downloaded from the Sharman Inquiry web site: (http://www.frc.org.uk/about/sharmaninquiry.cfm).

Notes to Editors

  1. The FRC is the UK’s independent regulator responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting to foster investment.
  2. The FRC launched the Inquiry in March 2011 to draw on the experience of companies and auditors who have had to address going concern and liquidity issues in times of difficulty, including during the credit crisis. The Panel of Inquiry was asked to recommend measures, if any, which are necessary to improve the existing reporting regime and related guidance for companies and auditors in relation to these matters.
  3. Media enquiries should be directed to:
    1. Jonathan Labrey (Head of Communications, FRC) on 020 7492 2395 or 07760 990345, e-mail: j.labrey@frc.org.uk; or
    2. Marek Grabowski (Sharman Secretariat) on 020 7492 2325, e-mail: m.grabowski@frc-apb.org.uk.

      Related Documents

      The Sharman Inquiry: Preliminary Report and Recommendations



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