Flint takes aim at Europe on fair value rule

The chief financial officer of one of the world’s largest banks has taken aim
at Europe, which he believes backed the international standard setter into a
corner on a revision of its fair value standard.

a letter to the Financial Times
, Douglas Flint, CFO at HSBC, said
he wants to see the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) fair value
rule, known as IFRS 9, adopted by Europe as soon as possible.

In a reference to European detractors of the IASB, Flint claims that pressure
was applied to the IASB to service political agendas.

“Many of the objectors to IFRS 9 sought to take the IASB to a position they
knew it could never support, because their agenda was to create conflict with
the IASB as part of a larger political agenda,” he said.

“Others sought to reach a position which offered them greater flexibility in
how they accounted for financial instruments under their own definition of their
business model – but this is untenable in an environment where trust between
financial institutions and the public has been seriously damaged.”

The IASB came under sustained pressure from European finance ministers in the
wake of the financial crisis, in an effort to make the body accelerate the
review of its fair value standard.

The standard forces listed companies to value their assets at market prices.
The rule forced banks to write down their financial instruments as liquidity
dried up in international markets.

Flint acknowledges that the present rule is not perfect, but believes is
better than the existing provisions.

“Accounting for financial instruments will never be perfect. IFRS 9 makes it
better and therefore should be available to European institutions as a European
Union-endorsed standard, so enabling early adoption in line with the rest of the
IFRS world,” he said.

Read the full letter:
perfection, just aim for improved reporting standards

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