UK ‘cool’ on IASs.

European finance directors have shown unprecedented support for the early adoption of international accounting standards, a new pan-European survey has revealed.

Almost four-fifths of finance directors not only support the introduction of global standards but want the option to publish IASs before 2005 – the European deadline for the adoption of IASs in cross-border listing – according to the research commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Of Europe’s 7,000 listed companies, 717 CFOs in 16 European countries were surveyed on their views about the European Union’s decision to force companies to start reporting using international accounting standards.

Mary Keegan, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ head of global corporate reporting, told Accountancy Age: ‘We suspected that the mood had swung, but I was taken by surprise with the results.

‘The strength of opinion strikes me as impressive and this is business telling business. Business is ahead of the regulators and that fits with our picture of things.’

Of the 15 EU member states and Switzerland, it was the UK that showed least support for the IASs, although they were broadly supportive of them.

But when asked to choose between UK GAAP and IASs, 20% opted for the latter.

Switzerland showed the strongest support for the change-over.

The concerns that CFOs raised over the switch to global standards centred around internal reporting systems, human resources and training costs.

Finance directors said the main reasons for considering the change to IASs were strategic business considerations, such as international comparability and raising finance.

However, they were worried about analysts’ understanding of the change in performance trends and also the Commission’s proposed ‘endorsement mechanism’ which many fear could result in a European version of IASs.

Related reading