Big Five give IAS backing

Big Five firms have given their first coordinated public backing to international accounting standards, in a move that could accelerate the standardisation of reporting rules across the business world.

The boost to international standards is part of a drive to improve the level of accountancy in developed and developing countries to make it easier for businesses and the private sector to invest in new markets.

The move was agreed during last week’s International Federation of Accountants meeting in New York which was attended by the Big Five, standard setters, lenders and other accountancy bodies.

Big Five firms will support the IFAC and the regulators in a new International Forum on Accountancy Development to achieve strong accounting methods across the world.

IFAC president Frank Harding said: ‘The major accounting firms decided it was time to make a commitment in support of the international accounting bodies.’

They will be committed to raising auditing standards using IASs and to the enhancement of education and training of professional accountants.

International standards will be debated again next week at the International Accounting Standards Committee meeting in Warsaw.

It is likely to be a heated meeting as the IASC and US accounting standard-setter FASB thrash out details of the committee’s restructuring plans which, it is hoped, will eventually create one international standard-setter.

FASB has already rejected the plans, but Big Five firms argue change is vital, though they also disagree with the current proposals.

Arthur Andersen professional standards group partner Isobel Sharp said: ‘It will be messy and will not come out with the best standards because compromises will be made and consistency lost.’

This renewed interest in developing standards on a global basis has been welcomed by firms such as Deloitte & Touche which were concerned IASs were moving from their original goal to assist countries without their own standards to achieve a workable alternative.

National accounting and audit partner Ken Wild said: ‘These standards were becoming a way for the market economy to achieve consistency so this initiative is getting IAS back to its roots.’

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