Peter Windsor, Jeffery Yong, and Michelle Chong-Tai Bell
The paper explores the use of accounting standards for insurer solvency assessment in the context of the implementation of IFRS 17. The paper is based on the results of a survey of 20 insurance supervisors. Overall, IFRS 17 is a welcome development but there will be challenges of implementation. Not many insurance supervisors currently intend to use IFRS 17 as a basis for solvency assessment of insurers. Perceived shortcomings can be overcome by supervisors providing clear specifications where the principles-based standard allows a range of approaches. Accounting standards can provide a ready-made valuation framework for supervisors developing new solvency frameworks.
At an informal Board meeting in January, there was broad support for removing the current blanket prohibition on the provision of non-audit-related consulting services by the Fund’s external audit firm and replacing it with a blacklist approach, subject to robust safeguards to ensure the independence of the external audit firm.
This paper makes specific proposals to implement such a change. This would align the Fund’s policy on the provision of consulting services by the external audit firm with practices followed in major jurisdictions and allow the external auditor to perform certain consulting services with proper safeguards to maintain the auditor’s independence. The proposed safeguards include: (i) a blacklist of prohibited services; (ii) an independence declaration by the external audit firm; (iii) limitations on the consulting fees that can be paid to the external audit firm; (iv) an oversight role for the External Audit Committee (EAC); and (v) review of consulting services provided by audit firms prior to the selection of a new external audit firm for the Fund.
The staff sought the views of the EAC, which concurs with the proposal to modify the policy on the provision of consulting services by the external audit firm along with the related safeguards.