1. IASB members and staff frequently receive queries from constituents in a variety of forms, including:
- telephone calls and emails;
- requests for reviews of documents published by accountancy firms, industry groups, or regulators
- questions following speeches; and
- questions during meetings with constituents.
2. The International Accounting Standards Board (the Board) does not encourage constituents to submit technical queries—nor does it provide a formal technical enquiry service. The Board does not have the resources to do so.
However, it is in our interest to hear about the problems our constituents encounter. Technical queries also provide us important information about developing accounting practice. We should always be open to discussing technical topics with the public. Our goal is to be helpful, but not to substitute the work of the Board and the IFRS Interpretations Committee (the Interpretations Committee) for judgements by individual Board and staff members.
3. Generally, any preparer, auditor, analyst, journalist, standard-setter, regulator or academic may telephone the Board to make a query. However, Board members and staff decline to answer the following types of requests:
- student queries—our experience is that such queries are open-ended and consume more staff resources than we have available.
- product-design queries—investment banks, accountancy firms, leasing consultants and others sometimes raise questions about whether a proposed transaction will achieve a desirable accounting treatment. The Board and staff do not participate in such discussions.
- queries regarding disputes—our objective in answering queries is to assist constituents, not to arbitrate disputes. The Board does not arbitrate disputes between a company and a regulator or between a company and its auditor.
- field-office queries—questions sometimes come from an accountancy firm’s local office or from the controller of a company’s subsidiary. Such questions should be routed through an accountancy firm’s IFRS Standards desk (if one exists) or a company’s group accounting office.
- queries about literature not issued by the Board—we do not interpret national GAAP, securities regulation or any other documents not issued by the Board.
4. People who make queries should understand that any response they receive is the personal view of an individual member of the Board or its staff. The Board encourages consultation among members and with staff on technical matters. However, responses, even after consultation, are not official Board positions. Official positions of the Board are only found in IFRS Standards and IFRIC Interpretations.
Requests to review guidance materials
5. Accountancy firms and industry groups often prepare guidance on the implementation of our Standards. These publications perform an important role in providing specialised guidance and answering implementation questions.
6. Guidance materials often have a long shelf life and sometimes take on an unofficial (but real) status as accounting guidance. Because of this, Directors must clear all requests to review guidance materials.
7. Before we can accept a request to review materials, the submitting organisation must agree to make all changes proposed by IFRS Foundation staff. We understand some groups may be reluctant to accept that condition and will decide to continue without involving the Foundation. Once the review is complete, a staff member compiles the comments and forwards them to the authors of the materials.
8. Organisations that request reviews must explicitly accept some limitations:
- any comments from the staff do not represent official positions of the Board or the Interpretations Committee;
- views may change as practice develops and new Standards are issued; and
- the organisation may not, under any circumstances, characterise a document as reviewed or cleared by the Board or its staff.
Queries from national standard-setters
9. National standard-setters play an important role in the Board’s drafting process. Their questions can provide information about the application of our Standards in particular jurisdictions and problems that local entities may encounter. We strive to be cooperative with all national standard-setters.
10. National standard-setters sometimes take on the role of intermediaries between local constituents and the Board. This can be helpful, as a standard-setter can help to frame questions and make the process more efficient.
However, we recognise that a response may ultimately be broadly disseminated. There is a risk that without careful attention, different interpretations may develop in different jurisdictions. For that reason, we may suggest that questions be referred to the Interpretations Committee for consideration.
Queries from regulators
11. Board members and staff frequently receive questions from securities, bank, and insurance regulators. We strive to cooperate with regulators. They are often our best source of information about how our Standards are applied.
The general principles outlined in this policy apply to queries received from regulators as well.