AICPA Debuts Proposed Reporting Framework for Issuers of Stablecoins

The American Institute of of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has developed a set of criteria to help increase transparency around stablecoins, a type of digital asset backed by traditional currency or other types of assets. 

 The document will provide the first framework of its kind to those issuing stablecoins, backed by fiat currency, to report relevant information to stakeholders and will provide the basis for attestation services around this asset class. 

Stablecoins have gained prominence for their role in trading, making them attractive to investors and businesses. However, there has not been consistency in the information available to token holders for stablecoins. AIPCA aims to remedy this with its proposed criteria. 

Regulatory bodies such as the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) already require reporting on and attestation of stablecoins, underlining the increasing importance of regulatory compliance. 

AICPA & CIMA senior director of assurance and advisory innovation, Ami Beers, said: “The AICPA is excited to develop the first available framework for reporting on stablecoins, and to be at the forefront of bringing transparency and consistency to the digital assets space. We’re hopeful that these criteria will serve as the basis for evaluating the sufficiency of reserves that back stablecoins in attestation services that practitioners provide to their clients.” 

“When developing this framework, we focused on the needs of the stakeholders which include consistency, comparability, and transparency of information, which will ultimately drive trust in these types of digital assets,” said Jay Schulman, chair of the Attestation Subgroup of the AICPA Digital Assets Working Group, and principal at RSM US. “We’re looking forward to integrating comments we receive into the final document, creating a robust tool for practitioners performing work in this emerging area of accounting and finance.” 

Once these guidelines are finalised and issued by the AICPA, the criteria can be used by practitioners when conducting an attestation engagement to perform procedures and generate a report on the issuer’s claims about the sufficiency of assets for redemption linked to asset-backed, fiat-pegged tokens (that is, stablecoins).

Research reveals tax professionals’ concerns surrounding risk tolerance

According to research conducted by Vertex, a global provider of tax technology solutions, the approach to indirect tax compliance by almost three quarters of global businesses is risk prone. Seventy-four percent of global businesses report accepting indirect tax compliance risks, in relation to their company’s tax compliance strategy. 

Commenting on the findings, Vertex senior director of VAT, Peter Boerhof, said: “The attitude to indirect tax compliance by businesses everywhere is concerning, particularly when the technology exists to mitigate many risks being taken. If businesses haven’t taken account of indirect tax properly, especially in Europe where the VAT rate can be up to 27%, this can have a detrimental effect on profit and brand reputation. Tax authorities will always catch up with a business, and the financial impact of non-compliance can be huge.” 

The research surveyed 580 indirect tax decision makers from global companies with an annual revenue of at least $50m (£39.4m) and found that 74% of respondent’s businesses were accepting compliance risks. In comparison, only 16% of businesses were risk-averse with their indirect tax compliance strategy. The remaining 10% were neither tolerant nor averse to taking risks. 

The survey also revealed that 62% of respondent’s businesses have been found to be publicly non-compliant, meaning errors were found following government investigation or audit. Additionally, 84% of the tax decision makers said they feel personally exposed by the current level of indirect compliance within their business. 

Regional differences in attitude to risk are stark. 90% of the survey’s U.S.-based respondents considered their business to be risk prone, whereas just 56% of respondents from Southern Europe (France, Italy and Spain) felt the same. 72% of respondents in the UK and Ireland believed their businesses to be risk prone. 

However, when asked how they would define their business’s current indirect tax capabilities, 43% of U.S. respondents describe their organisation as a ‘champion’ – meaning protected and futureproofed, whereas just 29% of respondents from Southern Europe say the same. Conversely, 25% of respondents from the UK and Ireland define their business as a ‘crawler’ – meaning compliance is slowing their business down. 

Vertex EMEA director for solutions marketing, Gunjan Tripathi, concluded: “For me, the most troubling element of this research is how many respondents from around the globe feel personally exposed about the level of risk being taken by their business in relation to indirect tax compliance. From a duty of care perspective, willingly exposing tax teams to this level of risk seems unwise and warrants further consideration.”

Finance leaders embrace AI and machine learning to revolutionise industry

Following the UKs AI Safety Summit and the ongoing conversations about AI in the UK, OneStream Software published its AI-Driven Finance survey results exploring finance leaders' attitudes towards AI.    

Whilst concerns around AI safety and regulation are being discussed, the survey of 800 prominent finance leaders across the globe found that 80% believe AI will enable increased productivity and efficiency, freeing up time for them to focus their skills on more value-added activities.  

Data from the ACCA reveals that over 90% of employers are experiencing a financial skills shortage. AI and the adoption of technology will be crucial to plugging this gap, with 72% believing it would create opportunities for new jobs in accountancy and finance.   

Matt Rodgers, Executive Vice President, EMEA at OneStream, continues, “AI’s integration in finance isn’t just revolutionising processes; it’s inspiring the next generation of finance talent. “With less people entering the profession than before, widening the skills gap, this technological revolution isn’t just about the tools; it’s about cultivating an environment that encourages the next generation to contribute their creativity and expertise to the evolving world of finance. This includes generating faster and more accurate forecasts that deliver high business impact and playing a more strategic role in steering the business.”  

The UK is also facing a productivity crisis and finance leaders believe AI provides a solution. Three quarters of respondents believe AI will increase productivity by freeing up time allowing finance professionals to focus on strategic tasks rather than admin tasks which AI can now perform.  

To tackle this productivity crisis, AI helps speed up and enhance typical finance processes. The top three areas where AI has made a significant impact include: financial reporting (74%), financial planning (67%) and demand forecasting/sales planning (60%).   

For those already using AI for FP&A, 70% say it helps them better predict and manage risk. This enhanced capability is essential in a constantly changing financial landscape marked by challenges such as the latest IMF forecasts and concerns about potential economic downturns.  

Looking to the future, over half of businesses believe generative AI could automate report writing and significantly enhance financial forecasting. As technology continues to evolve, over half of UK finance executives (58%) foresee AI becoming a core component of financial processes.

Culture Strategies For CPA Recruitment and Retention

In an era marked by a critical shortage of accounting professionals, Dr. Jessica Levin, COO, Abacus Worldwide has completed a seminal study that offers robust strategies for creating and sustaining positive work cultures within the accounting sector and to guide leaders in recruiting and retaining top-tier accountants and CPAs. 

Levin, a distinguished professional with two decades of expertise in strategy, growth, and organisational development in the accounting and legal fields, has completed her capstone project titled “Strategies for Creating Positive Cultures to Recruit and Retain Accountants and CPAs”. 

The capstone study is a critical response to the persistent challenge of talent acquisition and retention within the U.S. accounting industry. It presents a unique framework, adapting the McKinsey 7S model into a 5P model, focusing on People, Process, Personality, Perception, and Plan. These factors are essential in identifying the current gaps and setting the foundation for strategic development in organisational culture. 

Key highlights: 

A qualitative research approach that delves into the perspectives of senior leaders in the U.S. accounting industry. 

An innovative 5P framework that centralises the culture within the accounting profession and serves as a strategic basis. 

Four emergent themes from the research reveal the effectiveness of coaching and mentoring, strategic client management, workplace flexibility, and aligning academic representation with professional realities. 

Implications for Practice: 

The findings underscore the need for strategic client management, robust coaching and mentoring programs, flexible work arrangements, and improved alignment between academic training and professional practice—strategies extending to law firms grappling with similar challenges. Commented Levin, “This study goes beyond academic theory and addresses the urgent need for actionable solutions that can transform the professional lives of accountants and CPAs. The goal is to foster a work environment that attracts the best and brightest and nurtures their growth within the industry.”

IFRS Foundation launches sustainability knowledge hub

The IFRS Foundation has launched the IFRS sustainability knowledge hub to support the use of the ISSB Standards from next year. The hub went live at COP28’s Climate Action Day and is a key component of the IFRS Foundation’s capacity building programme. 

The hub hosts content developed by the IFRS Foundation and over 100 resources developed by third-party organisations. Materials will be added over time in response to market needs and emerging practices. 

While the hub has been designed to help companies preparing their ISSB disclosures, it will also be a useful repository for auditors, investors, regulators and other stakeholders seeking to advance their understanding of the ISSB Standards.

Emmanuel Faber to continue serving as ISSB Chair until end of 2027

The trustees of the IFRS Foundation have announced that Emmanuel Faber will serve a second three-year term as chair of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), when his current term ends in December 2024, thus giving clarity to the market about stability and continuity of the ISSB’s leadership. 

The early reappointment announcement reflects the trustees’ appreciation for the ISSB delivering requirements designed to create a truly global baseline of sustainability disclosures. Under Faber’s leadership, the ISSB will continue to engage with jurisdictions on regulatory adoption of its Standards, support companies implementing the Standards and other technical activities. 

Faber’s second term will start on 1 January 2025 and end on 31 December 2027. 

The ISSB leadership also includes two vice-chairs. Sue Lloyd started in her role in March 2022 and has been instrumental in designing and launching the first ISSB Standards. Jingdong Hua commenced his role in October 2022 and leads the ISSB’s capacity building efforts and other initiatives supporting the implementation of the Standards. Their initial four-year terms continue into 2026. 

Commenting on this, IFRS Foundation trustees chair, Erkki Liikanen, said: “Emmanuel and his strong leadership team have in the two years since we announced the creation of the ISSB delivered on all the commitments we set out at COP26 in Glasgow. The trustees are grateful for the significant progress and pleased to confirm there will be stability and continuity in the ISSB’s leadership to build on the ISSB’s success to date.”

AICPA & CIMA register first 100 apprentices to new apprenticeship programme

AICPA & CIMA has announced that it has registered over 100 apprentices onto its Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners programme in the programme’s inaugural year. These apprentices represent 17 employers across 15 industries. 

Most recently, CareFirst and Stanley Black & Decker have signed and joined a roster of employers that include Aon, Liberty Bank, Hypertherm Associates, and Messer Americas. 

The Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business is the US’ first-of-its-type programme for accounting and finance. It is dedicated to establishing a pipeline of highly engaged candidates that allows employers to monitor and develop more skilled, diverse, and long-term employees. The programme is built on the globally rigorous CGMA Finance Leadership Programme leading to the award of the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation. 

CareFirst director of accounting, Tom White stated: “The Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners programme immerses employees in the experience beyond traditional upskilling methods and will help us to develop diverse and skilled finance teams for now and in the future. 

“We are excited to make this programme available to our finance colleagues to help them gain essential skills, earn their CGMA designation, and carve out a path for job training, mentorship, and career growth.” 

Along with growing the participation roster of employers and industries, AICPA & CIMA are working to increase opportunities for students to have earlier options to benefit from an apprenticeship programme. 

AICPA & CIMA vice president, Joanne Fiore, concluded: “Apprentices in the AICPA & CIMA Finance Leadership Programme need not have completed their two-or-four-year degree to join an apprenticeship programme. They just need to complete their degree by the time they complete the programme.

”We are also piloting a youth apprenticeship in Maryland high schools, because we need to attract students into the profession earlier and research shows that high school students structured 'earn while you learn' apprenticeship programmes, such as AICPA & CIMA’s, can be very productive and contribute to the workplace.”

IFRS and ISO commit to future cooperation

Following the publication of the International Sustainability Standards Board’s (ISSB) inaugural standards, IFRS S1 and IFRS S2, the IFRS Foundation and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) have committed to future cooperation towards effective communication of information about sustainability-related risks and opportunities. 

ISO 14000 Environmental management and greenhouse gas emission standards can help companies that have sustainability and climate commitments implement them, and support disclosures in line with IFRS S2. Companies that have implemented such management system standards will be well placed to communicate with investors using the ISSB Standards. 

As ISO Standards support consistent approaches internationally in the internal management of sustainability-related matters, ISO supports the work of the ISSB to establish a global baseline of sustainability-related financial disclosures. 

Furthermore, ISO and the IFRS Foundation have committed to advancing capacity-building initiatives that focus on supporting organisations to build internal expertise and understanding that advance practices and reporting. 

IFRS Foundation managing director Lee White said: “The old adage says ‘you manage what you measure’ – the link between effective management processes for sustainability-related risks and opportunities and high-quality disclosures is clear. We look forward to working with ISO to highlight this link further in support of the implementation of the ISSB Standards.” 

ISO secretary-general Sergio Mujica said: “ISO brings together experts to share knowledge so that we can support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. Arguably, climate-related issues pose one of the greatest challenges of a generation. We are best placed to tackle these challenges when we work together, and as such we are delighted to reaffirm our shared commitment to work with the IFRS Foundation, including through capacity building initiatives.” 

The IFRS Foundation and ISO spoke at a COP28 session as part of the official UNFCCC programme on Sunday 3 December.