Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gilding The Lilly

Five days ago I wrote about my surprise that Michael Izza had not commented on the potential £40M pension deficit in the ICAEW's 2011 accounts:
"for reasons that are unclear he does not say a word about the pension deficit of £40M that completely undermines that finances of the ICAEW, and is the tail that is wagging the dog of the ICAEW's drive for new members via its international "strategy".

How very odd that he doesn't mention it?
It seems that I am not alone in believing that such a significant potential shortfall deserved more prominence. Kevin Reed is also of that view:

"MAKING FINANCIAL REPORTING more relevant and easier for to stakeholders to understand has been a long-running issue. 

Let's face it - when things go wrong there will always stakeholders up in arms as to why they'd not been able to predict such a terrible moment by reading the accounting runes. Conversely, there will be some clever sausage that looks in hindsight at the statements and figures to highlight that the problem's been clear all along.

As a non-accountant of the most severe kind - but as a journo with an interest in these issues - a couple of areas within the latest annual reviews from ICAEW and CIMA left me slightly perplexed.

Firstly, the ICAEW's pension scheme financial position has been valued by actuaries as in deficit of £40.1m at 31 December 2011, compared with the triennial valuation measured in 2010 at a deficit of £19.9m. This has the potential of forcing the ICAEW to stump up another £5m and review its pension funding plan. A fall in gilt yields is the main culprit behind the deficit's degradation.
Having traipsed up and down the pension schemes numbers - which spread across four pages - I admit to originally missing out the figure, which was included within the narrative section of the notes.

The deficit is mentioned twice within the institute's financial statements - in the review pages and again in its notes to financial statements. The ICAEW's summary of its position, the review, is online where the deficit is again flagged up.

The ICAEW told me that it is satisfied about the coverage afforded to the deficit, and its potential ramifications, within its year-end statements. Note the ‘potential', as the valuation itself was a ‘desktop' valuation, or estimate.

While I don't pretend to be able to pull out the institute's various pension scheme calculations through its statements of financial position (or balance sheet as I'd know it), particularly as ICAEW stakeholders are - let's face it - accountants, it still irks.

As a journo I'm not owed anything by the ICAEW. But maybe in the context of its members, and its role in making reporting as clear as possible, perhaps such an important ‘number' deserved more pronounced presentation.

And while on the topic, it also seems strange that CIMA feels it can't specifically reveal chief executive Charles Tilley's pay packet.

CIMA's annual review 2011 reveals its water consumption (3,400 cubic meters), but not the salaries of its senior management.

Some details are contained within the financial statements, but these are anonymous. We know that the highest paid executive's dosh has moved from the £210k-£220k bracket to £220k-£230k between 2010 and 2011. Is that Tilley? Dunno, assume so. Has ‘his' pay gone up from £220k to £220.1k, or £210k to £230k? A 100 quid or twenty grand? Dunno.

The average CIMA staff salary (wages + NI) fell to £33,349 from £36,224, with total staff numbers up to 426 from 369.

And of course, you're dying to know, the ICAEW does state their executives' pay. Chief Michael Izza earned a total of £477,000 - £372,000 in salary and £105,000 in ‘deferred variable pay', or performance-related pay."
My thanks to Kevin Reed for his Tweet following my publication of this article:
Hat tip to Ken for flagging up the pensions data in 1st instance. Will add to my copy"

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