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IFRS’s Liikanen demonstrates ‘reasonable optimism’

On 19 June 2019, Erkki Liikanen, Chair of the Trustees of the IFRS Foundation, gave a speech at the Eurofiling Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, discussing whether digitalisation will deliver increased productivity to the global economy and how the IFRS Foundation is undertaking its own digital transformation.

Introducing himself, Liikanen reminded the audience of his 14-year tenure as central banker in Finland. In his general remarks, he noted that the economic growth cycle is now maturing. He added that during the last decade productivity growth rates among mature economies are only about half those of the previous decade. “This combination of ageing, low productivity growth and threats to globalisation present central bankers with interesting challenges.”

Turning to the subject of digilalisation, Liikanen said: “An interesting debate taking place in academic circles is whether digitalisation, the process of leveraging technology and digitisation to improve business performance, can take up the slack.”

Citing examples of both pessimism and optimism, he said: “Personally speaking, I share [Daron] Acemoglu’s ‘reasonable optimism’ on this topic. Technology is an important enabler, but it needs to work itself through and the real benefits will only come once the procedures can be fully implemented.”

Liikanen believes that the digitisation of financial information can help investors to achieve their diversification and investment goals. He said: “It is important that we continue to work to facilitate cross-border transactions and support transparent, accountable and efficient financial markets in a digital world.”

On the IFRS Foundation’s role in the digital reporting space, he noted the way regulators around the world are embracing electronic filing with the IFRS Taxonomy and underlined the significance of recent advances in Europe and the US in particular.

In conclusion he added that the IFRS Foundation is itself about to embark on digital transformation with the sign-off, during the last trustees’ meeting, of a long-term plan to completely overhaul its technology systems and with it, a plan to establish a roadmap for the ‘digital experience’ to be offered to stakeholders around the world.

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