‘Lack of enthusiasm’ greets SME standards project

Link: IAS special report

The International Accounting Standards Board aims to have an exposure draft of standards for SMEs published by the end of the year. But its plans could be scuppered following doubts over the appropriateness of the IASB developing the standards and over some of the decisions already taken.

At an ACCA-sponsored conference on financial reporting in Brussels, Paul Pacter, IASB director of standards for SMEs, and the man charged with writing the standards, admitted that several of the board’s 14 members were not in favour of developing SME standards at all.

Pacter will report directly to chairman Sir David Tweedie, rather than fall under staff leadership, as ‘they are not very enthusiastic about the project’. He also expressed reservations about some of the decisions made before he was appointed to the role.

‘I’m not sure the decision to keep the same concepts as in full IFRS and the aim to reduce the burden for smaller companies can exist together,’ said Pacter. ‘If you go down that road you might make no changes whatsoever.’

He said the tentative decision that there should be no recognition and measurement modifications could test the capabilities of SME accounting staff. He also questioned whether the needs of small businesses would be served by a mandatory ‘fallback’ to full IAS, where SME standards do not address an issue.

The suitability of the IASB to deal with SMEs was also called into question by Antoine Bracchi, president of French accountancy body Conseil National de la Comptabilite.

‘The IASB’s background is in large, listed companies,’ said Bracchi. ‘I doubt if anyone on the board has any experience with SMEs.’

Related reading