Monday, November 9, 2009

SEC Hints at U.S. IFRS Adoption

Following a joint meeting of the IASB and the FASB last week, SEC chairman Mary Schapiro provided a hint on U.S intentions on convergence with IFRS.

Schapiro read a 40-word statement last week that included the words "I am greatly encouraged by the commitment of the IASB and the FASB to provide greater transparency to the standard setting process and their convergence efforts. I believe that these efforts will result in improved financial information provided to investors."

Schapiro and the Obama administration have given
conflicting signals in the past as to what direction the SEC would take in light of the financial crisis. She has been quiet on the subject of IFRS convergence since taking over as SEC Chairman last in January. Schapiro has now provided a degree of direction for companies looking to decide whether to ramp up their IFRS adoption efforts. The SEC have said that they will decide in 2011 whether U.S. companies will switch from U.S. GAAP to IFRS. The SEC had previously hinted at what the convergence timeline would be.

road map would have the largest companies reporting under IFRS in 2014, with all public companies following by 2016. The SEC has sought feedback and received over 200 comment letters. The comments have not had an overall theme and 200 is a small number considering the number of potential stakeholders, which include public companies, investors such as pension funds mutual fund issuers, auditors, educators, and others.

Some U.S.-based companies, such as Microsoft have ramped up their convergence efforts and companies like United Technologies have made a decision to switch to IFRS ahead of the SEC's decision. These companies have significant operations in countries that have already converged, such as the EU. Ultimately they will save on accounting and audit costs by converging.

The SEC has previously indicated that there are a number of significant
issues to be resolved including working out convergence paths for differences between IFRS and U.S. GAAP on critical issues and funding and governance.

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