We told you on February 8 that SEC Chairman Christopher Cox announced that day: “In 2008, the Division of Corporation Finance and the Office of the Chief Accountant… will formally propose to the Commission an updated "roadmap" that lays out a schedule, and appropriate milestones on which the schedule will be conditioned, for continuing the progress that the United States is making in moving to accept IFRS in this country.”
What’s new with the SEC’s roadmap in which the commission will consider permitting – or requiring – U.S. companies to file in IFRS? The most recent remarks posted on the SEC website touching on this topic – a speech by Commissioner Paul S. Atkins on March 3, 2008 to the Institute of International Bankers - indicate the SEC is still in the process of considering comments submitted on its August, 2007 Concept Release on this subject. The comments received, said Atkins, “will be helpful as we further consider the path of convergence between IFRS and GAAP.”
Meanwhile, two magazines have excellent cover stories on IFRS this month. The first is “A Step Towards Convergence in M&A Accounting,” the cover story in the April edition of Financial Executive Magazine, published by FEI. The article, written by Cheryl Graziano, VP of Operations, Financial Executives Research Foundation, and Ellen Heffes, Executive Editor, Financial Executive Magazine, provides insights from interviews with Suzanne Bielstein of the FASB, Pascal Desroches of Time Warner Inc., Mick Homan of Procter & Gamble, Richard Dinkel of Koch Industries, Inc., and Alan Texiera of the IASB, regarding application of the new business combinations rules issued by the FASB and IASB, the first new standards issued as a joint project of the two boards.
There is also an excellent article, “Goodbye GAAP” by Sarah Johnson, the cover story in the April 1 issue of CFO Magazine.
“Experts at the Big Four accounting firms say a Securities and Exchange Commission mandate for all U.S. publicly traded companies to use IFRS is inevitable,” reports Johnson. As to timing, she says, “The SEC … plan[s] to release a road map in late spring for transitioning U.S. public companies to the international standards, but it has not yet said whether adopting IFRS will be mandatory.” She adds, “[M]any SEC watchers expect the agency to eventually scrap GAAP.”
Johnson also provides interesting insights from FASB Chairman Robert Herz, PCAOB Board Member Charles Niemeier, FEI Vice President of Technical Activities Christine DiFabio, and others on issues such as the extent to which IFRS and U.S. GAAP are converging to one or the other set of standards, and issues for smaller companies contemplating convergence. The readers’ comments posted on the article are also interesting.
(On the subject of interesting reader comments – see NYT Floyd Norris’ April 4 blog post, “A Search For Scapegoats,” in which he counters arguments that the credit crisis was caused by “the shorts and the bean counters;” equally interesting are the comments readers filed in response to his post.)
As the pace of convergence continues, the IASB recently announced the appointment of two new members to the recently enlarged International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC): Peggy Smyth, VP and Controller, United Technologies Corp. (Smyth also serves as a member of FEI’s Committee on Corporate Reporting), and Scott Taub, Director, Financial Reporting Advisors (Taub was formerly Acting Chief Accountant and Deputy Chief Accountant at the SEC).
Jeff Keeler, CFO of DuPont told CFO.com’s Johnson, when it comes to IFRS reporting by U.S. companies (particularly SEC registrants): “If I'm reading the tea leaves right, it's not a question of if but when.”
See also Rick Telberg's CPA Trendlines blog post, "Sir David Tweedie Winning the War for IFRS," citing in turn an indepth article on IASB Chairman Tweedie which appeared in Financial Director. Telberg says of Tweedie: "He turned UK accounting standards on their head and got Europe to adopt IFRS. Now Tweedie is ready to bag the big prize: America."
All this leads to FEI’s June 5 Global Financial Reporting Convergence Conference: “The World Is Moving To IFRS: Are You?” Here is an updated agenda (as of April 7, 2008) including new speakers added. The conference will be held at The Coleman Center in New York City. A highlight of the Conference will be a keynote by SEC Corp Fin Director John White, and other speakers as shown on the agenda include senior staff of the IASB and FASB, as well as leading financial executives, auditors, and other experts. Register soon at www.financialexecutives.org/ifrs, space is limited! The conference is exclusively sponsored by BNA Tax & Accounting.
By the way…I’d normally stay up till midnight so this post would be recorded ‘as of’ Monday April 7 (I’ve been known to set my alarm to wake up around midnight just to post the blog so it doesn’t appear to be ‘yesterday’s news’) but I just got done reading the front page story in Sunday’s NYT by Matt Richtel, “In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop,” so forgive me if I post a couple hours before midnight. (Fellow bloggers, what say ye on the topic of 24/7 blogging stress? Or, for all readers –on the expanded topic of 24/7 wireless mobile email access (see, e.g., “Survey Shows Americans Increasingly Addicted to Mobile Email.”) Feel free to post a comment or email me. And, if you received this blog post from ‘a friend’ and would like to receive our blog real-time, enter your email address here.
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