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Call for Outcome-Focused Regulation and Regular Reviews at IFAC-ICAEW Roundtable

Strong Corporate Governance Must Bolster Regulatory Efforts, Say Senior Executives, Regulators, Academics

Jul 22, 2016 | New York, New York | English

Almost a decade after the global financial crisis, more than 50 thought leaders from across the public, private, and academic communities called for balanced regulation targeted to specific social outcomes, as well as stronger checks and balances, such as sunset clauses or impact analyses, to measure regulation’s effectiveness and fitness for purpose.

Speaking from the floor during the discussion, Fayez Choudhury, IFAC Chief Executive Officer, noted that, “There is a critical need to review and evaluate regulations on an ongoing basis, and to ensure purpose-built regulation going forward, in order to strengthen the global economy and financial system.”

The group emphasized that—while governments acted decisively and much has been achieved since the crisis—regulation alone cannot solve problems. It must be partnered with stronger corporate governance, and embedding ethics and values in organizations from the top down. These are essential to restore the public’s trust in government and both the public and private sector, which continues to be a vital goal.

“How can we ensure a duty of care to markets and society?” asked roundtable participant Baroness Sharon Bowles. “If you get corporate governance right, it can eliminate the need to regulate every eventuality—the corporate governance space is as important as the regulatory space. And the professions that advise businesses play an important role.”

The current compliance culture, participants said, has replaced responsibility and professionalism with rule-following and “box ticking.” In addition, this culture can lead to overreaction and risk aversion, stifling risk-taking that is essential for entrepreneurialism and growth.

ICAEW Chief Executive Michael Izza said, “We all agree that getting the future of regulation right is vital for the global economy. Regulation must be proportionate. We need to avoid on the one hand growing to a scale where compliance is so complex and costly it is a barrier to all but the largest firms, and on the other obsessive simplicity to the extent that it no longer protects against systemic failure. It will be important for everyone to work together and innovate to find the best solutions.”

The group noted that many responses to the financial crisis were fundamentally national and fragmented, whereas business is increasingly global. Participants called for more coordinated rules and consistent implementation, in line with calls from the G-20 and other global organizations since 2009.

Additional points of consensus from the roundtable included the importance of proportionality to protect small- and medium-sized entities—an engine of global economic growth—from over-regulation and the need for enhanced dialogue across the stakeholder spectrum.

Organized by the International Federation of Accountants® (IFAC®) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the roundtable included senior executives and experts from regulatory agencies, financial markets, government, academia, listed companies, investment funds, and the accounting profession.

The roundtable follows a similar meeting in Hong Kong in December 2015, at which 30 senior representatives of the regulatory, government, professional, investor, business, and academic communities identified ten principles to help guide regulators toward better decisions and protect the global economy from the dangers posed by a patchwork approach to regulation. Previously, IFAC issued a discussion paper, From Crisis to Confidence: the Role of Good Regulation, which examined the impact, benefits, and costs of the current regulatory landscape, and compares internationally recognized principles of good regulation.

About IFAC
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession, dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. It is comprised of more than 175 members and associates in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing almost 3 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.