RegulationAccounting StandardsIt pays to let them think it’s their idea

It pays to let them think it's their idea

Little by little the US is slowly learning to embrace international accounting standards

Gavin Hinks, editor of AccountancyAge

Regulators over there are now full throttle to adopt them and Christopher
Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has mad it point to
have IFRS in place before in 2011.

This week we learn that an announcement to allow US companies the option to
use only IFRS is imminent. That is another significant step forward. In fact, it
takes us just one step away from the introduction of a compulsory use of the
standards and replacing US GAAP and its 2,000 plus pages.

This may seem like a cautious approach given the way international standards
were approached in Europe, but it has to be a sensible one. There is always a
backlash to change and if the change comes from outside, the US can be
particularly vociferous in its opposition. The stories of IASB chairman Sir
David Tweedie being threatened by politicians and corporate leaders are legion.

An ‘option’ gives the opportunity for the market to make the decision.
Investors, institutions, even the press, might compel companies into using
standards that are much easier to compare. Of course, it’s a risk. It might not
happen. But equally stakeholders might have seen the writing on the wall and
will force a decision on company boards. Quite right too.

What they might be worried about is whether a change in the constitution of
the IASB’s parent body, the IASC, will give away more powers to influence the
work programme of the board. That could be dangerous and could provide the means
for spooking potential US users if they feel influence lies in a place it
shouldn’t be.

So while the push to bring the US on board is moving along nicely, those with
the influence will have to take care.

comment@accountancyage.com

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