Tuesday, September 29, 2009

G-20 Progress Report - More Detailed than Leaders' Statement - Calls For Convergence by June, 2011

Updating our earlier post from this weekend on the Sept. 25 G-20 Leaders' Statement (which called somewhat generically for convergence by June, 2011), we believe our original interpretation posted on Sept. 26 (i.e. that the G-20 is calling for completion of major convergence projects - such as the FASB-IASB MOU - by June, 2011) was correct, because of wording posted subsequently by the G-20 in an updated Progress Report as detailed below.

Compare the wording in Item 87 of the Progress Report on the Actions of the London and Washington G20 Summits - 5 Septmeber 2009, which states: "Accounting standard setters should take action to make significant progress towards a single set of high quality global accounting standards by the end of 2009," - to the wording in Item 53 in the Progress Report on the Actions to Promote Financial Regulatory Reform Issued by the U.S. Chair of the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit - 25 September 2009, which states: "We call on our international accounting bodies to redouble their efforts to achieve a single set of high quality, global accounting standards within the context of their independent standard setting process; and complete their convergence project by June 2011." (emphasis added)

The operative change in wording between the G-20's Sept. 5 Progress report with respect to convergence (generally), and the Sept. 25 Progress Report noted above, is that the G-20 has accelerated its call for global accounting standards convergence from a call for accounting bodies to "make significant progress ... by the end of 2009" to a call for them to "complete their convergence project by June 2011."

The G-20's Sept. 25 Progress Report discusses the matters of financial instruments, off-balance sheet items, provisioning (including loan loss provisions), valuation and impairment under separate items shown in the Progress report - Items 49, 50, 51 and 52 - for which the G-20's request of accounting standard-setters is still stated as requesting completion "by the end of 2009."

I'd like to emphasize this is my interpretation (and I remind you of the disclaimer posted on the right margin of our blog at http://financialexecutives.blogspot.com/).

Some other personal observations: The FASB-IASB MOU appears to have a generic date of 2011 as the goal for major convergence projects to be completed (without specifying a particular month in 2011) so some observers may interpret the G-20's Sept. 25 Progress Report as putting an earlier target completion date in 2011 (June, 2011) than others may have assumed the FASB-IASB MOU was aiming at (i.e., in theory, 2011 in the FASB-IASB MOU could have been interpreted by some to mean Dec. 31, 2011).

Is the June, 2011 target completion date for convergence being specified by the G-20 to provide more breathing room for the SEC to potentially reach a decision in 2011 on its IFRS Roadmap? The proposed IFRS Roadmap that was issued for public comment by the SEC last fall, as noted in SEC's Aug. 27, 2008 press release (the date the Commission voted in favor of issuing the proposed IFRS Roadmap for public comment) noted that under the proposal: "The Commission would make a decision in 2011 on whether adoption of IFRS is in the public interest and would benefit investors."

As we noted in an earlier post, various news sources have reported that in the Q&A session following her prepared remarks at Georgetown University on September 18, SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro indicated the SEC would formally revisit its proposed IFRS roadmap 'this fall.' More specifically, according to Sarah Lynch of Dow Jones Newswire, in her article, Schapiro Says SEC Will Discuss Transition to IFRS This Fall:
Schapiro signaled Friday [Sept. 18] the issue of switching from using U.S. generally accepted accounting principles to a global standard, however, is still very much on her agenda. "It would be ideal if we can have a single set of high-quality accounting standards that worked globally. The reason for that is it would allow for comparability for very large companies in particular and give investors the ability to make comparisons around the world," she said. "I expect we will speak a little later this fall about what our expectations are with respect to IFRS," she added.

I have reached out to various parties for comment/confirmation of my understanding of the various G-20 reports; while the information in the G-20 Leaders Statement was generic, the information in the Progress reports appears to be more specific. If I receive further information I will add it to this post or a subsequent post.

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Darla Sycamore said...

I don't think "Convergence" means "Adoption" necessarily. I would like to wait for the SEC to review this fall which ends in December I think. It would be helpful if they were to signal eventual adoption of IFRS which seems to be supported by the major firms in the USA.Even if the date were to coincide with the Olympics in 2016 for example - at least the uncertainty will be removed.
It has been my view that the USA should adopt rather than converge. This is the position in Canada even though affected companies in Canada are significantly behind in their projects - see the FEI Canada site for the CFERF study.

Anonymous said...


Please provide us your rationale for your belief that the US companies should adopt. What would be gained for investors?

Edith Orenstein said...

Thanks for your comment.
Readers, the "CFERF study" which Darla references is the publication: "IFRS Readiness in Canada" published by the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation (report was sponsored by PwC), available here: http://www.feicanada.org/files/5615%20IFRS%20Readiness%20Summary.pdf .

Darla is a member of FEI Canada, and is a member of the board of trustees of CFERF.

She has also authored a blog with her personal views (not an official publication of FEI Canada or CFERF) called www.ifrsnewsandviews.com

Anonymous said...

While not the only reason, one could speculate a reason for specifically mentioning June 2011 is that it corresponds with David Tweedie's term on the IASB, which expires on June 30, 2011. Again, probably not the only reason, but I believe it is one of the reasons. In my personal opinion, it is unconscionable to try to force this magnitude of change to accounting standards due to one's term limit on a standards setting board.

Edith Orenstein said...

Re:Anonymous commenter 9:09 a.m. Sept. 30

Also of note, if you look at FASB webpage describing FASB board members' terms, all but 1 (the newest board member, Marc
Siegel) are currently set to have their terms expire no later than 2012, with Leslie Seidman and Tom Linsmeier's terms expiring in 2011, and Robert Herz and Larry Smith's terms expiring in 2012. See FASB board member webpage here: http://www.fasb.org/jsp/FASB/Page/SectionPage&cid=1218220131802