The time for standard excuses is past

Of course there is truth behind them – that’s why Accountancy Age is campaigning on the issue – but it can be a little counter-productive to keep telling people just how many companies will not be ready for the new standards once they bite next year.

So when another survey reached us this week, reporting that more than one in four top UK companies believe they will not be ready to report on an IFRS basis by early 2005, it was difficult to stifle a yawn. Difficult, that is, until we read further and spotted a startling statistic: UK companies are among the least prepared in Europe for the new rules.

Surely this flies in the face of conventional wisdom. After all, isn’t UK GAAP so similar to IFRS that you could barely fit an exposure draft between them? Unprepared we may be, but we always acted as though we were the least unprepared.

Well, it seems we are not. The KPMG Atos survey found that 26% of the large UK companies surveyed said they would not be ready by early 2005 – compared to the 12% average across France, Germany and Holland.

Preparation isn’t helped by the lingering row over IAS39; until the IASB issued its tranche of standards in the spring, companies had had a ready-made excuse not to engage with IAS. Once those rules appeared, that excuse disappeared – until now. IAS39-related uncertainty is giving companies another excuse not to engage as some cling to the hope that IAS implementation will be delayed. That’s a forlorn hope. It’s time everyone stopped deluding themselves.

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