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What's new? May 2018

May 01, 2018
A round-up of recent news and announcements in the world of finance and accountancy.

Half of Irish organisations favour regulation to drive diversity and inclusion, according to EY study

Research conducted by EY Ireland has found that 49% or senior leaders are in favour of using regulation to address diversity and inclusion issues. Of those in favour, 91% would like to see regulation used to address the gender pay gap with 79% in favour of using regulation to address gender diversity at board level. Unfortunately, EY’s research also shows that the gender composition of boards and senior management has not changed in any meaningful way over the past year. Women currently hold just 26% of all board positions and 32% of senior management positions.

Northern Ireland’s growth continues to slow amid frustration within the business community

The Northern Ireland economy got off to a poor start in 2018 with domestic sales balances at their lowest levels since 2013. According to the NI Chamber and BDO Quarterly Economic Survey, manufacturing sector performance remains well below the UK average and 76% of firms in Northern Ireland are experiencing pressures due to wage increases. With Brexit now less than one year away, just one in four Northern Ireland businesses have made changes to their business model as a result of the EU referendum while one in 10 have established a presence outside Northern Ireland.

Financial Reporting Council announces plans to enhance monitoring of audit firms

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has announced plans to enhance its monitoring of the six largest audit firms to avoid systematic deficiencies within firms’ networks, disruption in the provision of statutory audit services, and instability in the financial sector. The FRC will focus its attention on five key pillars that are critical to the stability of the audit firms and quality of audit work. These are: leadership and governance; values and behaviours; business models and financial soundness; risk management and control; and evidence on audit quality, including from the FRC’s annual programme of audit quality reviews. According to Melanie McLaren, Executive Director of Audit and Actuarial Regulation at the FRC, “The work of the big six audit firms is core to the integrity and transparency of UK capital markets and so it is vital that the FRC introduces a new approach to monitoring their stability and performance by focusing on aspects of their businesses that are critical to the provision of high quality audit.”

Research by Microsoft reveals digital culture’s role in Irish organisations’ competitiveness

Without a strong digital culture, the introduction of more technology reduces employee engagement. That’s the key finding from recently-published research by Microsoft Ireland. The tech giant also found that just 11% of Irish employees feel highly productive in their job and 14% feel highly engaged. 90% of employees also report low innovation in their organisation. According to Aisling Curtis, Commercial Director at Microsoft Ireland, a massive 84% of Irish employees believe that they work within a weak digital culture. “To combat this, leaders need to be clear on whether their organisation has a set of guidelines for how technology should be used and whether their people have been brought along that journey,” she said.

Global ethics board releases revamped Code of Ethics for professional accountants

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) has published a completely rewritten Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants that is easier to navigate, use and enforce. Beyond the new structure, the Code brings together key ethics advances over the past four years and is clearer about how accountants should deal with ethics and independence issues. While the fundamental principles of ethics have not changed, major revisions have been made to the unifying conceptual framework – the approach used by all professional accountants to identify, evaluate and address threats to compliance with the fundamental principles and, where applicable, independence. Renamed the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards), the new Code will come into effect in June 2019.