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Accounting News Roundup: Sustainability Disclosure and How Accountants Vote | 09.27.16

Sustainability disclosures

When it comes to disclosure, most businesses would like less of it. They throw the term "disclosure overload" around quite a bit. Investors, on the other hand, would prefer more information rather than less and be left alone to figure out what's important. I think the issue of disclosure simplification is at a bit of impasse right now, but that won't stop investors asking for new disclosures, most notably, sustainability disclosures:

While many companies issue  corporate social responsibility reports, there is little standardization of reported metrics or third party oversight of the disclosure, raising a number of concerns for investors, said Mary Morris, investment officer at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS.

“We really should be moving some of that information into the financial statements because it’s audited and it’s assured,” she said, speaking on a panel at the Pace University Pacesetters In Financial Reporting Conference on Monday.

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board is working on those reporting metrics, although they're only "provisional" at this point. SASB board member and former SEC chair Elisse Walter says, "Investors are pushing harder and harder and harder for this information" so okay, but all that pushing isn't going to develop rules any faster. Is sustainability auditing even a thing yet? I honestly don't know. Sure, some schools (affiliate link) are starting to explore sustainability accounting, but it seems like a big leap from investors demanding more disclosure to the rules being written, issued, commented, implemented and then getting an "independent" auditor to sign off on them. Accounting just doesn't move that fast.      

Elsewhere: A New Debate Over Pricing the Risks of Climate Change

How accountants vote

Accounting Today reports that a poll of 330 CPAs and accountants found "43 percent of respondents planning to vote for Donald Trump in November" and I gotta think — isn't that low for a GOP nominee? I gotta think that in a non-Trump election year, the GOP nominees could count on having 60-70% of the accountants in their corner. Sad! In this particular poll, 27% of respondents plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, 11% for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 12% (!) selected "none."

This makes me wonder — what issues do accountants care about? Are they mostly one-issuer voters that want business-friendly policies and tax cuts but don't consider anything else? I guess I shouldn't be surprised if most accountants' political views are one-dimensional.

This poll doesn't say what issues were most important but it did find that 62% think that their chosen candidate will win the election which, again, seems high. That sounds like a classic case of an accountant not wanting to admit, "I don't know."  

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! Although he was asked about them during the debate last night and fell back on the "I'm under audit" excuse. When NBC's Lester Holt followed up to state that that doesn't prevent Trump from releasing them, Trump suggested he was following his lawyers' advice, but would go against their advice if Hillary Clinton released her missing emails.

Elsewhere: A new theory being floated is that Trump used insolvency in the early 90s to earn tax relief.

Previously, on Going Concern…

I wrote about PwC's 24/7 recruiting.

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