Report of the epi-Finances Committee

C. Quintelier (BE), ChairC. Quintelier (BE), Chair

T. Powell (GB), Secretary

The 89th meeting of the epi-Finances Committee took place in hybrid video/in-person format at the Novartis Campus, Basel on 7 October 2022. The Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer and Internal Auditors attended as invited guests. The Executive Director, Head of Finance and Ms Ullmann acting as Committees Co-ordinator also attended.

The Head of Finance & Accounting presented a review of the data held by the Secretariat relating to the payment of epi members’ subscriptions. Notwithstanding the variety of ways in which the subscriptions are paid by or on behalf of Members, it is the responsibility of individual members to ensure that their contact details, including their e-mail addresses, are correct and up to date. The Committee recommends that a reminder of this requirement be made a step in the acceptance of subscription payments.

The Committee received a report principally from the Deputy Treasurer on the epi budget for 2023. This includes a likelihood of a substantial deficit, that is to be funded from reserves.

The Committee noted that the current volatility in operational costs, in particular deriving from energy costs and general inflation, mean it is difficult to have certainty over budget figures. Nonetheless concerns were raised over the projected deficit.

The Committee therefore recommends that the out-turn relative to the projections in the budget be closely monitored, in particular with respect to levels of reimbursements of operational expenses.

The Committee gave cautious approval of the budget on condition that more data are provided at its next meeting, by which time some actual 2023 costs will have been incurred. The Committee also expressed its wish to have data relating to the evolution of costs and income of epi over the past years.

The Executive Director provided an update on management projects in the Secretariat. Progress on these was noted with approval. In particular the Committee endorsed the decision to abandon the DMS project in favour of more economical provision of the required functionality from among the existing software packages in use.

The Executive Director and Head of Finance & Accounting further gave explanations of the transition of work in the Accounting Department away from having solely a function of recording historical transactions. The department now undertakes forecasting and strategy functions and this development is heartily supported by the Committee.

The Committee reviewed a request to reinstate the production and distribution of printed copies of epi Information. This proposal would have significant cost implications and is not supported by the Committee. The Committee instead recommends encouraging members to view the on-line edition of epi Information, with a proposed survey of attitudes towards the preferred format taking place in 2023.

The Committee reviewed a proposal to commence training of trainers in preparation for the revised EQE format. The Committee noted however that there has been no final decision on the revised EQE format, and that this is unlikely to be taken until the Autumn of 2023. In view of this the Committee is of the opinion that no training expenditure should be incurred until the revised EQE format is definitely known. However, the Committee supports the inclusion in the 2023 budget of a provision to be used by the PEC once the revised EQE format is decided.