Accounting & Auditing | Corporate Finance & Governance | Legislative / Regulatory

IFRS ‘fast track’ full of caution signs

Slow The times, they are a-changin', huh?

Not long ago -- just a few months, actually -- the United States appeared to be on a fast track to adopting international financial reporting standards. In an increasingly global economy, it seemed all but inevitable.

Since then, we've heard the new chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission say she won't be bound by the SEC's IRS roadmap that was announced in November.

Then came word that the SEC was extending the comment period for the roadmap by 60 days. The new deadline is April 20.

After that came a comment from the National Associaton of State Boards of Accountancy suggesting that the SEC might want to withdraw its IFRS roadmap altogether and focus instead on converging with IFRS, rather than adopting IFRS outright.

Now, according to a new survey from Financial Executives International, companies that qualify for early IFRS adoption in 2009 will find it nearly impossible to do so for a number of reasons, including a tight timeline, concerns about the economy and questions about "an anticipated 2011 decision on whether or not mandatory adoption of IFRS is in the public interest."

"The timing of the SEC's roadmap will have a profound impact on the finance profession, and professionals will be closely watching to see how the economic crisis that had escalated subsequent to the IFRS session will affect the ultimate timeline," said Marie Hollein, president and CEO of Financial Executives International and the Financial Executives Research Foundation. "Our report not only provides a summary of what U.S. companies are doing to get ready for IFRS in advance of a final roadmap, but the key concerns our community is facing. These need to be kept top of mind as the new SEC leadership makes decisions related to IFRS."

Many in the profession remain committed to the IFRS concept, and I have no doubt we'll keep moving in that direction.

It's just amazing how quickly things change when a new adminstration tries to tackle a once-in-a-generation economic crisis.

What do you think: Is IFRS still a sure bet?


Bill Sheridan