On the money with Gavin Hinks

Gavin Hinks, editor of AccountancyAge

Perhaps, that’s a little unfair because his early statements were about
suspension. But it’s interesting to see politicians wade into accounting issues.

What puzzles me is whose interests were uppermost in his mind. The IASB has
worked hard to convince everyone that it serves investors and that this is the
purpose of its standards, including fair value.

So when Sarko aimed his foot, he was thinking of the banks. They had clearly
convinced him that fair value had to go.

I can’t help feeling that this is because wealthy bank managers spend more
time hobnobbing with the political elite than the investor bodies, who are more
likely to spend their time talking to officials.

Political intervention has not been welcomed with open arms. Senior UK
professionals are incensed at the use of accounting as a ‘political football’
when politicians ‘know even less than the rest of the world’. Their words, and I
report them faithfully.

That would be why we have a standard setter that doesn’t answer to any
national government or group of politicians. Interestingly, all European
governments are now interested in acting as one. That’s precisely the principle
underlying the IASB and allowing it to set the standards ­ so that no single
nation should go it alone.

In the end Sarkozy, Brown, Merkel and Berlosconi pulled back from the brink.
But when I see how much pressure they exerted, and how close they seemed to be
to wresting standards from the standard setters, I can’t help thinking that’s
why we made central banks independent. Discuss.

Gavin Hinks is the editor of Accountancy Age

Related reading

Fiona Westwood of Smith and Williamson.