Beer, hot dogs and IFRS
Despite the fact that we are just barely through celebrating Memorial Day, I took a refresher look at the holiday calendar the other day and noticed that in 2011, July 4th falls on a Monday, which ensures a three-day weekend.
I mention this forward-looking days-long span of beer and a boxcar of grilled meats because just three
days later, on July 7, the Securities and Exchange Commission will sponsor a roundtable to discuss what
it termed the “bene;ts and challenges” of potentially incorporating International Financial Reporting
Standards into the ;nancial reporting system for U.S. issuers.
I’m not what you would call a Beltway insider, but even I know that the summer months are far from
the most productive time for lawmakers and regulators in the nation’s capital. And if you’ve ever been
in D.C. in mid-summer you can understand why.
But enough about the climate. ;e event as scheduled at press time will feature three panels representing investors, smaller public companies, and regulators. ;e panel discussions will focus on topics
such as investor understanding of IFRS and the impact on smaller public companies, as well as the
regulatory environment of incorporating IFRS.
It was roughly 10 years ago when I attended my ;rst meeting on IFRS convergence, with Sir David
Tweedie of the International Accounting Standards Board answering questions from London via video.
I was new to covering the profession and was just getting my feet wet with the nuances of GAAP, and
now I was exposed to a long-range plan that would eventually bring about a single set of high-quality
global accounting standards. It was a lot to take in, to be sure. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I learned
that international regulators can easily match the glacial pace of their American counterparts when it
comes to an agreement of any sort of new or revised standards.
Case in point is the recent announcement that the IASB and the Financial Accounting Standards
Board have again pushed back the timeline to ;nish a series of convergence projects in the original
Memorandum of Understanding. ;e convergence projects on ;nancial instruments, revenue recognition and leasing are now targeted for completion in the second half of 2011. However, the U.S. insurance
standard, which had not yet been exposed for public comment, is targeted for completion in the ;rst
half of 2012.
Both boards were quick to point out, however, that the June 2011 date was a “target” and not a “
deadline.” Funny how those semantics never worked with my editors when they awaited a story.
;ere’s a host of other issues to be addressed leading up to the post-July 4th event, not the least of which
is the SEC’s on-again, o;-again enthusiasm for IFRS during the regulator’s present administration.
And here are a few others that may be worth considering:
Some 120 countries use IFRS all or in part, with hundreds of local carve-outs. To me that doesn’t
come within two area codes of what could even be loosely considered a single set of global standards;
;e future of FASB, should this process actually move forward, and the political in;ghting that would
undoubtedly ensue over who would be the designated standard-setter; and,
;e often-lacking overseas auditing and enforcement guidelines and its e;ect on ;nancial report-
All fodder for what could be, if you’ll pardon the pun, a heated summer debate.
I wonder what’s on tap for Labor Day?
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