Hong Kong’s FRC transitions to AFRC

Hong Kong’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) transitioned to become the Accounting and Financial Reporting Council (AFRC) at a launch ceremony on 29 September.

As of 1 October 2022, the AFRC will become a full-fledged independent regulator of the accounting profession in Hong Kong. The further reform extends the AFRC’s regulatory power to auditors of all entities in Hong Kong, and all accounting professionals and to oversee all statutory functions of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Professional Accountants. Given the expanded duties, the AFRC will spearhead and lead the accounting profession to constantly raise the level of quality of professional accountants, and thus protect the public interest.

At the launch ceremony, HKSAR Government financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-Po said: “Accountants and auditors are gatekeepers of financial reporting in Hong Kong. They play a critical role in underpinning the credibility of our businesses and financial markets. And, hand-in-hand with the new AFRC, they will ensure that the profession, and its regulation, align with international standards and developments, serving the best public interest.”

The ceremony was attended by over 350 guests who were welcomed through a ‘Time Tunnel’ exhibition that presented the archives of the transformation of the AFRC since it was established in 2006. A corporate video was released at the ceremony to commemorate the FRC’s 16-year journey and to inaugurate the launch of the AFRC.

FRC CEO Mark Grabowski said: “Our purpose is to shape a competitive environment that will nurture and promote the success of the profession. We aim to achieve this through a combination of dialogue, understanding and collaboration, defending the law, leveraging the power of governance and providing thought leadership. As a financial regulator, we expect our regulatory action to create positive ripple effects in the business environment that will bring benefits to the accounting profession, to the economy and to Hong Kong. These ripple effects are visually reflected in the letter ‘F’ of our new logo.”

FRC publishes regulations for PIE Auditor RegisterOnline route to CIMA qualification launched

The FRC has today published the regulations for the upcoming PIE Auditor Register, following the Government’s response to the consultation on Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance.

From 5 December 2022 all audit firms and responsible individuals who undertake statutory audit work for Public Interest Entities (PIEs) will need to be registered.

Audit firms currently auditing PIEs will need to apply and be approved to be included on the PIE Audit Register to prevent any disruption to their work. There will be a transition period from 5 September to 4 December 2022 for existing audit firms of PIEs to submit transitional applications.

The Kingman Review in 2018 found that the FRC had insufficient powers to address systemic issues at the firms, relying on the registration powers of the Recognised Supervisory Bodies. The creation of the PIE Auditor Register was also a key action set out in the Government Response in May and is one of the first projects to be implemented.

Directly registering audit firms and individuals signing PIE audit reports will bolster the FRC’s supervisory toolkit and enable it to become increasingly assertive in holding audit firms to account for the delivery of high-quality audit.

The FRC’s Executive Director of Supervision, Sarah Rapson said, “The new Regulations will mean the FRC can act decisively when it identifies systemic issues in an audit firm, allowing us to impose conditions, suspensions and, in the most serious cases, remove registration.“This was one of the key recommendations of the Kingman Review and it is an essential part of the supervisory toolkit.”

Following a consultation that ended in May 2022, the FRC is today publishing the PIE Auditor Registration Regulations, guidance on transitional applications and the feedback statement on the consultation.

View the PIE Auditor Registration Regulations

View the Transitional GuidanceView the Consultation Feedback Statement

Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA) strengthens Middle East and Africa practice 

Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA), the leading forensic accounting, data analytics and eDiscovery consultancy, is pleased to announce that May Mhanna has been appointed as a Director within the firm’s Dubai office. In addition to strengthening FRA’s financial services advisory expertise, May’s particular experience serving public sector clients will broaden FRA’s offer in this area.

May’s appointment comes as the office sees rapid growth, with three senior hires made since its launch in March. She joins a group of other senior female leaders, including Temi Labor, who was appointed as Associate Director in June.

Prior to FRA, May worked at Deloitte Middle East for more than fourteen years – most recently as a Director, where she advised clients in the financial services and public sectors, taking part in major advisory projects involving large-scale banking remediation, regulatory recovery and portfolio de-risking, Central Bank framework transformation, financial crime compliance, crisis management, banking recovery and resolution planning, and development finance.

May’s strong financial services advisory background will help to consolidate FRA’s presence in the region, strengthening its expertise - notably in financial investigations involving anti-money laundering (AML), anti-bribery & corruption, sanctions, and compliance - and financial crime remediation capabilities both in Financial Services and Public sector.

Bhavin Shah, Partner and Head of the FRA Dubai officesays: “We’re delighted to welcome May to the team. She joins more than six months after the launch of our office and during a period of rapid expansion. Her extensive financial services experience and deep knowledge of the Middle East market will help take the business to the next stage of our international growth journey and cement our status as the ‘go-to’ consultants for forensics and advisory services across the region.”

Commenting on her appointment May Mhannaadds: “I am thrilled to be joining FRA and working with a group of such talented leaders in the field. Having worked in the Middle East for more than fourteen years now, I have seen first-hand the development of financial crime regulation and legislation, need for robust corporate governance, and the extensive rise of development finance amongst banking and public sector institutions. I look forward to serving our clients across the region in these critical and complex situations.”

Bitwave and Sage partnership 

Bitwave, the first enterprise-focused digital asset platform designed to manage the intersection of cryptocurrency tax, accounting, and compliance, recently announced its affiliation with Sage, a leader in accounting, financial, HR, and payroll technology for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Bitwave is now the first approved Sage Intacct Marketplace Partner among crypto tax softwares and is integrated with the Sage Intacct cloud financial management system.

As a Sage Intacct Marketplace Partner, Bitwave now offers a certified integration with Sage Intacct to address tax and accounting management for any organization bringing cryptocurrencies or digital assets onto their books.

Know-it partners with Nimbla to help protect businesses against administrations & insolvencies

Know-it, the all-in-one credit management solution for businesses, has partnered with Nimbla to offer single invoice insurance in-platform.

“Credit Insure-it” is a new feature to Know-it and is powered by Nimbla. It provides an extra layer of protection to business’ cashflow in the event their customers go into liquidation or administration by providing single invoice insurance. SMEs can select which invoices to protect, insure them in seconds and trade confidently despite market uncertainty.

Credit Insure-it joins Check-it, Chase-it and Collect-it as the 4 elements that make up the Know-it platform, empowering businesses to mitigate credit risk, reduce debtor days and boost cashflow all in one place.

Users of Know-it also have access to Unsecured Creditor Claims data allowing them to see losses suffered by a business as a result of their customers going into liquidation or administration. Now, not only can Know-it users identify liquidations and administrations that could impact their invoices being paid on time, they can now insure their invoices in the event their own customers go into liquidation or administration, providing a much needed safety net.

Know-it Founder & CEO Lynne Darcey Quigley says on the partnership “there’s a great synergy between Know-it and Nimbla as both provide great solutions to business’ finances during times of need. With Know-it giving the facility for businesses to credit check and monitor, automatically chase late payments and collect overdue invoices in one platform, now we’re delighted to be able to offer single invoice insurance so businesses can still access cash they’re owed in the event of their customers going into administration or liquidation by protecting their invoices. £5.8bn is lost annually due to liquidations and company insolvencies more than doubling and reaching the highest quarterly number since 1960 this year, there has never been a better time to stay protected. Times are changing and we can see the very real risk of company administrations/liquidations increasing, so having credit insurance to cover commercial invoices is priceless.”

Blair Pusey, Head of Sales and Partnerships at Nimbla says "When we first sat down to explore what a partnership with Know-it might look like, it was clear that our cultures aligned just as well as our products. Customer feedback and input from the SME community was a constant reference point as we discussed what SMEs need to know to protect their businesses. Together we are able not only to highlight the risk of insolvency and impact of bad debt, but actively help avoid it through insights and trade credit insurance. We are delighted to partner with Know-it and enable SMEs to mitigate risk, reduce debtor days and increase cashflow."

Lynne adds “A recent report has shown 60% of businesses are impacted by invoices being paid late, so it is critical that businesses have a plan in place for when payments are not made on time.”

Schneider Downs announces expansion of management team

Schneider Downs is pleased to announce the following additions to our management team.

Roger Spears, Cybersecurity Project Manager has over 18 years of experience within the IT and Cybersecurity disciplines. He has spent his career leading dynamic teams on both small- and enterprise-level projects. He has previously served as Chief Technology Officer, Cyber Security Training Coordinator and in other related positions for employers in the higher education sector and, most recently, for the U.S. Navy. He will serve a broad array of Schneider Downs’ cybersecurity clients in similar capacities.

Mr. Spears received his Bachelor of Science in Technology from Bowling Green State University and his Masters of Science in Information Assurance and Security from Capella University.

Mr. Divens is an investment professional with over six years of experience analyzing all aspects of companies for investment decisions, as well as in constructing investment portfolios for clients. He has previously served in Chief Investment Officer, Chief Operations Officer and Investment Analyst roles for large firms as well as in Project/Process Engineer positions in multiple industries.

Mr. Divens attended Carnegie Mellon University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. He then received his Executive Masters of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

“Schneider Downs continues to grow and expand through hiring experienced and talented personnel,” said Steven Thompson, co-managing shareholder of Schneider Downs. “We are excited to see Mr. Divens and Mr. Spears grow within our firm and provide our clients with quality service.”