1. Prepare a two-page newsletter,
The regulatory environment and financial reporting
You are a member of a large accounting firm which is responsible for preparing financial reports, including statements and notes to the accounts; and for advising staff in client firms who are responsible for preparing financial reports. The firm only deals with large Australian companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. One of your key tasks is to summarize the changes and developments in the financial reporting environment in a newsletter published quarterly.
Prepare a 2 page newsletter that identifies and summarizes developments and changes in the financial reporting environment for the quarter from June to August 2015.
Detailed guidelines for completing this task:
1. Identification of changes and developments
This will involve extensive research on a number of sources over the required period. You will need to identify and consider developments/changes relating to:
Technical issues such as the issue of new accounting standards, exposure drafts or other pronouncements or interpretations.
Regulation and monitoring of financial reporting.
Political influences or other potential developments (such as identification of any reporting failures) that could impact or may be of interest to staff (such as Enron or Parmalat failure). 'Political' does not only mean action from politicians â€“ it would also include lobbying/actions by other groups to promote their own interests â€“ for example there may be articles about companies, or particular interest groups such as Group of 100, saying that if certain accounting standards are introduced this will disadvantage or have a negative impact.
You will need to consider both local (Australian) and international sources and developments. A section on 'international' items/developments must be included in the newsletter. This should not be limited to the IASB.
2. Potential sources
Given the scope of the potential influences on financial reporting you will need to research a range of sources. Below is a list of sources that may be of interest, note that this list is not exhaustive, studentâ€™s should search for sources outside of these. Students should not rely on any one type of source, but a range of sources from each category, i.e. do not just look at websites, also check journals, newspapers etc. Examples of possible information sources include:
(a) Websites such as those of:
Australian Accounting Standards Board Financial Reporting Council
Australian Securities and Investment Commission Australian Securities Exchange
International Federation of Accountants
Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand CPA Australia
International Accounting Standards Board Financial Accounting Standards Board Websites of large accounting firms
(b) Professional publications:
In the Black (CPA) Acuity (CAANZ)
The restriction to a 2 page newsletter means that you need to use your own judgment as to whether to include information about specific changes and developments and how much information to include. It is not intended that you provide complete details of changes/developments (although you may consider in particular cases that more detail is needed). The purpose of the newsletter is to alert staff to changes and developments that may impact on their work and provide enough information about these changes/developments to satisfy the following:
For staff (the intended audience) to understand the nature of the development/change and its potential impact (so staff can decide whether they need to investigate further given the nature of their own work),
Provide sufficient information for staff to be able to obtain further information on the development/change if they wish to,
The newsletter should, where possible, be in your own words with sources adequately referenced using the appropriate referencing system.
Some examples of significant items to be considered include:
Revised or reissued accounting standards or interpretation (both national and international), ASIC reviews on financial reporting,
New ASX disclosures for listed companies.
Given the target audience, it would be assumed that they have a working knowledge of common terms and abbreviations (such as AASB, FASB) so abbreviations may be used. Don't be afraid to be creative. The effectiveness of a newsletter is impacted by how interesting the readers find it.
What not to consider?
Students need to take care that the developments and the changes considered and included in the newsletter are relevant to the objective, in particular the issues/developments that directly relate to the
preparation of financial reports for large companies listed on the Australian stock exchange. The newsletter should not consider areas only indirectly related to the preparation of financial reports such as (this is not an exhaustive list):
Fraud, Auditing, Taxation,
Other disclosures by listed companies such as: industry disclosures required by peak organisations; voluntary disclosures in the area of corporate social responsibility; and voluntary environmental disclosures.
4. Format and presentation
The following are to be observed for your newsletter preparation.
The top of the newsletter must include the title (you need to decide on what to call your newsletter) and details of the period the newsletter is considering.
The newsletter should not read as one continuous 'essay'. It must include headings and
sub-headings that assist in identifying the nature of changes/developments and help to guide the reader, and also enable the reader to distinguish between items of interest and the relative importance of changes.
You must refer the reader to specific sources so that they are able to obtain more detailed information of the development/change.
The newsletter must be printed in minimum font set at 11 points (You may wish to use larger fonts etc for headings etc). You may wish to set your newsletter out using columns but this is optional. Apart from minimum font size, there are no specific requirements in relation to line spacing, margins etc. However, you should note that simply reducing line spacings, margins to 'fit more in' may impact on the presentation and effectiveness of the newsletter.
There is no specific 'word limit'. The newsletter must be no longer than 2 pages. In cases where the newsletter exceeds the 2 page limit, only the first 2 pages will be marked.
Do not attach actual articles/printouts of web sources etc to your assessment. You are only required to include details of these in the bibliography (see section 5 below).
5. Bibliography and referencing
This assessment must include a bibliography rather than a reference list (this should not be part of your newsletter and to be given on a separate page). A bibliography includes all materials used/read in the preparation of your assignment, not just those referenced or cited within the paper. The reason a bibliography is required (rather than a reference list) is that this will provide an insight into the range of your research activities which is part of the criteria for assessment. It is expected that the bibliography will be quite long. The bibliography needs to include specific articles or readings of what you have actually accessed - not just a general link to a website or newspaper etc. Therefore if you use a source such as the AASB website, please reference every article that you have read separately. You should only include sources that are related to the area. For example, if you look at a particular publication but most of the content relates to taxation issues, it would not be appropriate to include these articles in your bibliography as these are not directly related to the area of interest and you should not have 'used' these in preparing the newsletter.
Newsletters without a bibliography will not be accepted or marked.
When citing electronic sources please also include the date accessed. If you are unsure how to cite and reference your readings check the referencing guides here. APA referencing style
Please be reminded that plagiarism is regarded as a serious issue within the University system with
severe consequences for students who have been found to have deliberately plagiarised, the minimum penalty being zero for the assignment. All students should ensure that they are familiar with the plagiarism policy and referencing requirements before commencing assessment tasks.
The purpose of this task is to help you further develop some of the skills and knowledge required and valued by the accountancy profession. The task that you will be required to undertake is similar to the tasks required of a professional accountant working within the financial reporting field. Accounting professionals need to ensure they are aware of current developments and that their knowledge is up to date. They need to be able to identify changes that have occurred that may impact on their work and to know where they can obtain information about these changes.
In this assignment you are asked to provide a summary of recent developments relating to financial reporting. As such this assignment allows you to:
develop the ability to identify and source changes to accounting/reporting requirements so as to update professional knowledge required for practice;
acquire an awareness of current developments and changes (both locally and internationally) that may impact on current and future accounting and reporting rules and regulations; develop the ability to provide written material appropriate to the accountancy profession; appreciate the limitations of the currency of knowledge in a technical financial reporting area;
outline the nature of financial reporting regulations that exist for reporting entities and companies in general; and
critically analyse current issues relating to the global development and application of financial reporting standards.
Sample newsletter is provided as attached.Please refer to it.