The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia has called on the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, to place more emphasis on the ‘impact’ of academic research, especially for the accounting profession.

The need for a measurement of research ‘impact’ is the subject of a new academic thought-leadership publication, Bridging the Gap between Academic Accounting Research and Professional Practice, developed by the Institute and the Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability (CAGS) in the School of Commerce at the University of South Australia.
The issue of ‘impact’ raised in the book is based on a forum held earlier in the year where leading Australian and overseas academics, practitioners, public policy representatives and Institute members openly debated the need for relevance and greater understanding of the impact of academic accounting research.

The Institute’s CEO, Graham Meyer, states in the book, ‘The Institute recognises the important role of accounting research and the potential costs to the accounting profession and the wider community if academic accounting research loses its relevance or does not have a demonstrated impact on public policy or practice.’

Professor James Guthrie, the Institute’s Head of Academic Relations, added, ‘It’s a topic that is timely, as the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2012 draft guidelines currently set by Senator Carr do not refer to measuring the impact or relevance of academic research.’

‘Research must align with what policy makers and practitioners need. To do this, a shift needs to occur whereby we talk about research in terms of quality outcomes. Is it relevant to practitioners? How does it impact policy makers and society?

‘Going forward, what we need are detailed discussions to take place with key stakeholders from across policy, practice and academia, with defined roles and responsibilities agreed. Through more collaboration, research outcomes would deliver tangible outcomes for the accounting profession and the public.’ 
A complimentary PDF copy of the new book can be accessed on the Institute website or the CAGS website.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has released new disclosure benchmarks for contracts for difference (CFDs) that aim to improve disclosure and investor awareness about risks of these products.

The guidance also covers margin foreign exchange contracts.

In Australia, most CFDs are issued as over-the-counter (OTC) products, making them increasingly accessible and popular with retail investors. But CFDs are a high-risk financial product and their complexity means they are unlikely to meet the investment needs of many retail investors.

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft said action was needed to ensure people considering CFDs are aware of the downside as well as the upside.

‘CFDs are extremely risky financial products. Most investors don't understand that complexity and they don't get independent financial advice. That means we need CFD issuers to do a much better job of spelling out to investors the risks as well as the rewards of these complex products,’ Mr Medcraft says.

‘ASIC’s number one priority is ensuring investors and financial consumers are confident and informed. We want issuers to work harder to ensure people investing in CFDs better understand what they are getting into – before they start trading.’

Regulatory Guide 227 Over-the-counter contracts for difference: Improving disclosure for retail investors (RG 227) outlines seven benchmarks which aim to help investors understand the risks and benefits of OTC CFDs. Issuers must address these benchmarks in product disclosure statements (PDSs) from 31 March 2012.

The seven benchmarks (see ‘Background’ for further details) mean issuers will need to address each issue in their PDSs on an ‘if not, why not’ basis. The benchmarks are:

UniSuper’s CEO, Terry McCredden, has been awarded the Fund Executive of the Year award after “demonstrating exceptional leadership in the areas of advice, investment management, risk management”.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has announced a 22 per cent second-half profit on home and business lending, recording a total increase of 13 per cent profitability.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Council has announced it will not oppose six large financial institutions each taking a share in a new credit reporting agency.

The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) has called for comment to be incorporated into its response to the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) Request for Views Agenda Consultation 2011.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has slashed its gross domestic product forecast for the 2011-12 financial year by one percentage point.

Australia’s level of entrepreneurship has returned to pre-2007 levels according to an OECD report.

A report commissioned by Google and published by Deloitte Access Economics shows that the direct contribution of the Internet to the Australian economy is valued at $50 billion, while wider benefits through productivity gains is at $27 billion and the value of benefits to households is at $53 billion.

The Western Australian Government has reiterated its opposition to the planned Minerals Resource Rent Tax and Carbon Tax after State Treasurer Christian Porter expressed his disappointment over the Federal Government’s refusal to discuss the taxes in the October Tax forum.

Visa has told the Productivity Commission in no uncertain terms that it cannot and will not enforce the collection of the goods and services tax (GST) on customers who purchase goods online from offshore sites for fear of legal and reputational ramifications.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Consumer Price Index rose 0.9% in the June quarter 2011, compared with a rise of 1.6% in the March quarter 2011.

The most significant price rises this quarter were for fruit (+26.9%), automotive fuel (+4.0%), hospital and medical services (+3.4%), furniture (+6.0%) and deposit and loan facilities (+2.1%).

The Australian National University’s (ANU) new shadow reserve bank board has publicly backed the current interest rate, with the majority of the board supporting maintaining the current monetary rate.

Figures released by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) show a contraction in business borrowing and an increasingly weakened home loan sector, which has fallen to its weakest annual level ever recorded.

Sonray Capital Markets chief executive of finance is facing jail time for his role in stealing funds and making false and misleading account entries valued in the millions of dollars.

Incoming Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) chief executive Ian Narev has vowed to continue the bank’s aggressive customer-focus overhaul after he takes the reins in December.

The two chiefs of the failed broking firm Opes Prime have received jail sentences for their role in the collapse of the company.

Westpac has announced it is currently considering launching a new internet-only banking service, to be known as Red, that will form part of Westpac’s multi-brand strategy.

The National Australia Bank has poached as many as 60 Axa Asia International financial planning businesses after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) blocked a similar move last year.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has ruled that partners and adult children can face substantial tax liabilities after the death of a parent or partner.

QBE has announced that it will split its Australia and Asia-Pacific operations as the bank prepares its aggressive expansion strategy across the Asia region.

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