Monday, October 17, 2011
Big Shot Investors Say No to IFRS
By Emily Chasan of WSJ
When SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said in June that investors aren’t clamoring for International Financial Reporting Standards, she may have been understating things… a bit. Now, some of the biggest U.S. investor groups are letting the SEC know in no uncertain terms that it should postpone its decision on IFRS and even stop the convergence process between U.S. GAAP and IFRS.
In comment letters to the SEC this week, some big investors and analyst groups had some scathing words about IFRS, claiming, among other things, that the International Accounting Standards Board isn’t independent enough from political interference to set accounting rules for the United States.
Capital Research and Management Co, which manages over $1 trillion, wrote that U.S. GAAP was “clearer, more effective and more advanced” than IFRS in providing the information it needs to make investments. CRMC Chairman Paul Haaga wrote in the letter:
While we support the idea of a consistent set of high quality accounting standards for companies worldwide, unfortunately we do not believe IASB has been effective in achieving this objective. Moreover, IASB’s ability to achieve this objective has been gravely diminished by political influence.
CRMC, which is the investment advisor to the American Funds mutual funds, said it doesn’t expect to benefit from the more comparable reporting IFRS is supposed to provide because the standard is applied so inconsistently around the world, and urged the SEC to retain U.S. GAAP. It also said the convergence process between U.S. accounting rule makers isn’t working and should be stopped.
Investors, analysts, and others, who use financial statement, are the purported beneficiaries of a switch to IFRS, as a single set of accounting rules should make it easier to compare publicly-traded companies around the world. Many CFOs are on record saying they would bear the cost of an IFRS switch if they think investors would benefit.
But even the CFA Institute, which represents over 100,000 portfolio managers, investment analysts and advisors throughout the world expressed doubts, saying it would be “premature” for the SEC to inject IFRS into the U.S. financial system. The CFA Institute said its continued support for IFRS is not unconditional, and that the International Accounting Standards Board needs to ensure its independence and more consistent application of its rules before U.S. companies are required to use them.
After abandoning an earlier plan that would have had U.S. companies using IFRS as soon as 2014, the SEC has said it would make a decision this year about whether companies in the U.S. should move toward the international standard, which is used in more than 100 other countries around the globe.
at 5:30 PM