Promoting good financial governance
Yesterday’s charity trustee conference on promoting good financial governance was attended by 150 delegates ranging from charity trustees, finance personnel, charity support workers to those with an interest in charity finance.
The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of the new accounting and reporting regulations and promote understanding of good financial governance among charity trustees. Judging by the positive feedback from participants, this was achieved:
“Probably one of the most worthwhile events I’ve been to” - Janet Schofield, Compass Advocacy Network
“Excellent opportunity to understand changes and the importance of changes. Good networking opportunities” - Deirdre O’Hanlon, Mainstay DRP
“A day full of knowledge and expertise. Many thanks” - Marie Anne Templeman, EBCDA
“Excellent event, very informative, good balance of information and input from all relevant stakeholders. Accessible, relevant, timely!” - Claire O’Hare, Youthnet
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Seamus McAleavey, CEO, NICVA opened the conference with a warm welcome to everyone saying he believed that the large turnout was as a result of the huge importance that is now being placed on governance by charities. He highlighted that many more people indicated that they would have liked to attend as recent changes to the rules on charity accounting affect charities of all sizes.
Charity reporting regulations
Frances McCandless, CEO of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland outlined the new accounting and reporting regulations for all registered charities which came into effect on the 1 January 2016.
She also highlighted that the Commission is finalising the ‘Directions’ for independent examiners and that these and a full suite of guidance on the new accounting and reporting regulations would be available this summer.
Please see the presentation below for details on the type of accounts which registered charities must prepare, the type of external scrutiny which must be carried out on the accounts, the content of the annual report as well as what not to include with your annual monitoring return.
Independent examination and the role of the independent examiner
Chris Smith, Chair of the Association of Charity Independent Examiners (ACIE) explained the role of the independent examiner and what is involved in an independent examination.
He emphasized the need for charities to choose an independent examiner with the appropriate skills and experience of charity accounting. For more detail on what is required of an independent examination, please see the presentation below.
Common issues in financial management: an accountant’s perspective
After a short break Rosemary Peters Gallagher, partner with Moore Stephens Chartered Accountants then gave an overview of the common issues that many charities encounter in managing their finances. She too highlighted the importance of choosing the ‘right’ person with experience and understanding in charity accounting to work with charities. She highlighted that charity trustees should be asking certain questions about the finances of the charity and that they need to pay particular attention to risk management. Please see the following presentation for full details of various financial considerations for charities
Internal financial controls: a trustee’s perspective
The final presentation in the morning session was delivered by Peter McBride, CEO of Niamh and chair of NICVA’s resources sub-committee. Peter emphasised the importance of trustees asking the right questions and ensuring that financial reporting is robust and of sufficient quality. For more detail on his presentation, please see the presentation below.
In the afternoon, participants were able to attend workshops which allowed them to delve deeper into the following subjects:
- Understanding accrual accounts
- The independent examination of receipts & payments accounts
- Understanding the pensions auto enrolment regulations
- Financial systems and controls assessment
The financial systems and controls assessment workshop concentrated on the new financial systems and controls assessment questionnaire that is being used by the Department for Communities in assessing funding applications. Any charity could use this questionnaire as a financial healthcheck for their own organisation.
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