Thursday, February 25, 2010

IFRS Roadmap Stretched

The SEC has lengthened its roadmap for adoption of IFRS by U.S. public companies by at least one year. The Commission unanimously approved on Wednesday a new timeline that suggests that 2015 is the earliest possible date for compulsory adoption of IFRS by U.S. public companies.

The SEC also called for more examination of IFRS and a vote in 2011 as to whether to move ahead with required adoption of IFRS.

The new timeline allows companies additional time beyond the previous 2014 deadline in the original road map, set in 2008.

The original road map also would have allowed certain U.S. companies to early adopt IFRS before 2014. The SEC said it is dropping the early adoption option.

The SEC is not excluding the possibility that companies may be permitted to choose between the use of IFRS or U.S. GAAP.

Up for consideration is whether the transition should be optional or mandatory and whether larger companies might transition forst, followed by mid-cap companies, etc.

Issues the SEC will be addressing:

  • Whether IFRS is sufficiently developed and consistent in application for use as the single set of accounting standards in the U.S. reporting system.
  • Ensuring that accounting standards are set by an independent standard setter and for the benefit of investors.
  • Investor understanding and education regarding IFRS and how it differs from U.S. GAAP.
    Understanding whether U.S. laws or regulations, outside of the securities laws and regulatory reporting, would be affected by a change in accounting standards.
  • Understanding the impact on companies both large and small, including changes to accounting systems, changes to contractual arrangements, corporate governance considerations and litigation contingencies.
    Determining whether the people who prepare and audit financial statements are sufficiently prepared, through education and experience, to convert to IFRS.

SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker said he could foresee FASB continuing to have a substantive role moving forward on IFRS, even post-transition.

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