IASB round table pans ‘wooly’ fair value classification

Panellists at the IASB’s round table have savaged the accounting rules
governing hard-to-value financial instruments.

The standard setter is holding a round table in London today to thrash out
issues related to financial reporting issues highlighted by the global financial
crisis ,and one said that the classification of some assets was ‘wooly.’

‘The IASB would need to look at the classifications. The classsifications are
wooly round the edges.’

Inconsistencies in the impairment triggers for the instruments were also

Another said: ‘We’ve seen the implications of decisons to have a different
classification basis and a different impairment basis and now these chickens are
coming home to roost.’

Standard setters pushed through a change to the accounting rules which allows
companies to reclassify instruments linked to financial assets as available for
sale instead of held-to-maturity.

This mean that companies avoid the drop in the value of the asset hitting
their profit and loss accounts, instead taking the changes as unrealised losses
on their balance sheet, but one particiapnt said that the reclassification was
‘confusing’ leading to ‘another half-way house.’

But some came out in defence of the IASB after one participant voiced
concerns about a ‘fair value fire’: ‘When you have a fire, you call the fire
brigade, ie the government and the regulators. You don’t beat up the architect.’

A second session wil take place this afternoon at 2pm

Access the webcast of the round table here:


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Fiona Westwood of Smith and Williamson.