Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Looking for Work? Try FASB or IASB

If you are an accounant with a converged accounting skillset, perhaps there are a couple of jobs youu might be interected in. Both Robert Herz, and Sir David Tweedie, respectively the chairman of the U.A. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the head of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) are due to retire shortly. Despite the departures of Sir David and Mr Herz, big accounting firms and their clients still expect convergence of standards to top the agenda of their successors.

Both men have had to deal with controversial issues in financial reporting. In particular, fair value accounting for financial assets: and liabilities is a particularly cumbersome issue. In fact, the two men and their accounting bodies have butted heads over this issue, with both business people and politicialns sticking their oars in to the dispute. Recently, the FASB has taken a more principles-based approach, calling for most measurements to be at fair value. IASB has taken a two-category approach, saying that loans and loan-like equivalents held to maturity may be marked at amortised cost, whereas frequently traded instruments should be marked to market. Comments to date are leaning more toward the IASB approach, with “Big Four” accounting firms and many companies on the IASB’s side. Conjecture is that Herz’s replacement may be a pragmatic consensus-builder rather that the principles-based stalwart that herz was.

At IASB, meanwhile, the skills of a politician or diplomat may be required as the EU politicians have in some cases refused to agree to the IASB's proposed standards.