Legislative / Regulatory

It’s ‘hurry up and wait’ on the road to IFRS

Impatient There's been lots of noise on the IFRS front lately, from the International Accounting Standards Board issuing a standard designed for use by small and medium-size businesses to the release of an amended application for first-time IFRS adopters.

The really interesting stuff to me, though, centers on U.S. adoption of the international standards.

First, there's Sir David Tweedie. According to this WebCPA article, the IASB chair is voicing increasing frustration with the way the U.S. is dragging its heels on convergence.

“Where is the USA?” Tweedie asked at the American Accounting Association’s annual meeting. “That is a question I am asked all around the world. ... If you’re going to have global standards, we need the U.S., but it can’t go on indefinitely. We’ve been converging for seven years. We have a timetable to finish in 2011. It’s designed to fit these major economies — Korea, Canada, Japan, India — who are converging that year. We have to finish this year.”

With new SEC Chair Mary Schapiro distancing herself from the agency's initial roadmap to IFRS adoption and adopting a more deliberate approach, the odds of meeting that goal are debatable.

Even if we decide to push hard to meet it, we may find a bunch of finance executives who don't have a clue about what it means for their companies. Fifty-five percent of CFOs surveyed recently by Robert Half Management Resources are either "somewhat unfamiliar" or "not familiar at all" with how their organizations will be impacted by the transition to IFRS.

Robert Half Executive Director Paul McDonald used the report as a call to arms.

“Despite lingering uncertainty surrounding the implementation of IFRS, many in the financial community expect the United States to eventually adopt these international accounting rules,” he said. “More than 100 countries are already using IFRS, and proponents believe international standards will bring greater consistency and comparability to corporate financial reporting. Companies that begin preparing now will have an advantage in making a timely and successful transition.”

No matter how you look at it, it appears the United States has some ground to cover on the road to IFRS.

Check out these other IFRS resources:


Bill Sheridan