British duo drive standards review

Sir Bryan Carsberg has been secretary-general of the International Accounting Standards Committee since 1995 and has a long history in the development of accounting standards on a UK and international basis, including experience in the US.

His involvement in the US Financial Accounting Standards Board from 1978 to 1981, where he was assistant director, perhaps explains his enduring patience with the US reticence in accepting IASs as the only set of internationally recognised accounting rules.

UK presence is to be boosted further at the beginning of next year as Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the UK Accounting Standards Board, becomes chairman of a revamped IASC. The ‘unanimous’ vote by IASC trustees to elect Sir David Tweedie to the post of chairman of the IASC’s new board was not just based on his technical expertise. It is hoped Tweedie’s appointment will continue to bridge the transatlantic gap between Europe and the US.

It is expected Tweedie will instil that same ‘revolutionary’ spirit into the 14-member IASC board, where he needs a majority of just eight to pass a new standard, as he instilled in his 10-year tenure as the ASB head.

Tweedie’s alleged reputation of cut-throat tactics to eradicate ‘unfair accounting practices’ following the economic recession in the 1980s is also hoped to stave off US fears that standards will be lax.

Between them they have years of experience in the public and private sectors, academia, firms and regulators. Both qualified as accountants during 1960s, Tweedie with the Scots ICA and Carsberg with the English institute. Both have held posts with the University of Edinburgh and the University of Manchester respectively. And both were knighted for their services to accountancy.

Not ones to sit on their haunches, both understand the immediacy of the situation standard-setters face and the need to drive home the uselessness of alternatives in the global village we now live in. ‘Accounting is a pragmatic matter and often the best isn’t suitable,’ Sir Bryan said at the IASC conference in Brussels last week.


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