John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lectures

The School of Accounting, UNSW Australia Business School has held annual John V Memorial Lectures which are summarised below. For more information about the lectures or to request copies of the speaker presentations please contact us.

Thank you to the Ratcliffe family for supporting these lectures, designed to bring together members of the university, people working in the accounting profession and the public sector, to consider issues of mutual concern and public interest.

2008 John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lecture

The 2008 John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lecture was held in March 2008 at the UNSW Business School.

Professor Ira Solomon's lecture Public-Company Auditing Post SOX: A Focus on Financial Statement Fraud covered the changes in the business environment at the start of the 21st century, the antecedents to these changes, and then considered the new, greater expectations of the public and regulators with respect to public company auditors.

There was significant focus on the characteristics of financial statement fraud, and the new ways of thinking about old auditing concepts such as audit risk and audit evidence.

2006 Lecture: An Assured Future: Thought Leadership and Emerging Directions for the Auditing Profession

As mainstream politicians and economists are acknowledging climate change as an urgent global issue, how might auditors facilitate sustainable corporate practices?

And in the aftermath of corporate scandals, auditor failure, new reporting standards and increased regulation, what other challenges and opportunities now face the auditing profession?

The 2006 John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lecture, hosted by the School of Accounting at The Westin Sydney in November 2006, brought together a distinguished panel offering a range of perspectives.

Convenor Professor Wai Fong Chua, Senior Associate Dean of the Faculty of Business, introduced the three speakers:

  • Professor Ken Trotman of UNSW School of Accounting
  • Mr Kim Smith of PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Professor Roger Simnett of UNSW School of Accounting

2005 Lecture: New Frontiers in Extended Performance Reporting

For companies, does 'performance' have the same meaning as 'financial performance'?

Corporations increasingly report on intangibles such as, in Australia, social or environmental responsibility, and in Europe intellectual capital. Are these corporations providing stakeholders with genuinely useful additional insight into their performance? Or are their triple bottom line reports primarily marketing spin?

What new frontiers are emerging to enable companies to more meaningfully report on intangibles that drive their value?

The 2005 John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lecture, hosted by the School of Accounting at The Westin Sydney in June 2005, brought together a distinguished panel offering a range of perspectives.

Convenor Professor Wai Fong Chua, Head of the School, introduced the three speakers:

  • Professor Jan Mouritsen of Copenhagen Business School
  • Mr Geoffrey Bazzan, of Maple-Brown Abbott 
  • Dr Ian Woods of AMP Capital Investors

2004 Lecture: Executive Compensation: Robbery or Reward?

It’s easy to condemn massive termination payouts to non-performing executives, but what about other executives' large compensation packages? Are these justly deserved, and essential to attract the best people to run corporations? Or do they simply attract the greediest, rather than the best?

The 2004 John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lecture, hosted by the School of Accounting at The Westin Hotel in November 2004, brought together a distinguished panel offering a range of perspectives.

Convenor Professor Wai Fong Chua, Head of the School, introduced the three speakers:

  • Mr David Gonski AO, Chairman of Investec Bank (Australia) Ltd
  • Mr Peter Morgan, Co-Founder and Executive Director of 452 Capital Pty Ltd
  • Professor Stephen Taylor, UNSW School of Accounting

2003 Lecture: International Accounting Standards: Ready or Not?

The School of Accounting hosted the 2003 John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lecture at The Westin Hotel in November 2003.

The lecture took a panel format convened by Professor Stephen Taylor. With the decision to switch from existing Australian accounting standards to those approved by the International Accounting Standards Board effective 1 January 2005, there are many concerns about the ability of corporates to implement this timetable.

Likewise, auditors and investors face serious difficulties in coping with the many changes, some of which are not yet even resolved by the IASB. The panel bought together a distinguished group of accountants who examined the issues from a number of different perspectives. The panel comprised:

  • Jeff Lucy AM, Deputy Chair, Australian Securities and Investments Commission
  • Peter Day, Executive General Manager - Finance, AMCOR
  • Geoff Wilson, National Managing Partner - Assurance and Advisory, KPMG
  • Marc de Cure, General Manager - Strategy, AMP Ltd

The panellists provided some thought provoking comments. Jeff Lucy stressed that ASIC is of the view that, in general, corporate Australia is 'on track' to implement changes to reporting systems that are necessitated by the change. He also indicated that ASIC is unlikely to view firms that claim they are unprepared in a favorable light. 

Peter Day argued that the move to IASB standards will have little, if any, effect on firms' cost of capital, particularly those firms that already access global capital markets. On the other hand, Marc de Cure suggested that the move to IASB standards could result in significant savings for many businesses, possibly including reduced audit fees. 

Finally, Geoff Wilson suggested that many firms were not as prepared for the move to IASB standards as ASIC seemed to believe, as well as questioning whether it would be reasonable to expect reduced audit fees.

Following the presentations, a lively question and answer session ensued.

The School of Accounting greatly appreciated the support of the four distinguished panellists in making for such a timely and important discussion, as well as the financial support provided by the family of the late John V Ratcliffe.

2002 Lecture: Institutional Owners of Shares - The Sleeping Giant Awakes?

The School of Accounting hosted the 2002 John V Ratcliffe Memorial Lecture at The Westin Hotel in November 2002. The lecture took the format of a panel presentation convened by Professor Bob Walker.

This was a very timely contribution to the current corporate governance debate at that time, as evidenced by the large audience with strong representation from both industry and academia.

The panel represented a broad range of perspectives from trustees to investment managers and covered views from the public and private sectors. The panel included:

  • Michael O'Sullivan, President of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
  • Dr Tom Parry, Chairman of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and Chair of the FSS Trustee Corporation (Trustees of the NSW Public Sector Accumulation Scheme)
  • Gai McGrath, Company Secretary and General Counsel, Perpetual Australia

The panel discussion was followed by a very lively question and answer session.