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As the debate continues about whether or not the US should adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), a report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) stated that the process will take time and needs substantial investment in staff and training.
In May 2012, the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) delivered its long awaited staff report on whether the US should adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB); and then in October 2012 by the IFRS Foundation trustees’ own analysis, of the SEC’s report concluded that the US is well placed to achieve a successful transition to IFRS, ‘thus completing the objective repeatedly confirmed by the G20 leaders.’ The research was conducted for ACCA by Forbes Insights, surveying nearly 500 US based investors. “More investors believe the eventual adoption of IFRS in the US will result in a net benefit to the US economy, than not. In ACCA’s view, US adoption of IFRS would give a tremendous boost to the cause of globally comparable financial reporting, and more importantly, the US and world economies,” stated Sue Almond, Technical Director at ACCA.
57 percent of investors expect that the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) will one day require reporting under IFRS, with more investors agreeing than disagreeing that the long term benefits of adoption would outweigh the costs.
Some of the key findings of the report show that the most informed investors believe it will take US corporations some four and a half years to be ready for IFRS and awareness of IFRS among US-based investors is modest.
“While there are clearly challenges and reservations highlighted in the survey, attitudes to IFRS appear to be changing in the US, irrespective of any action by the SEC. The more familiar investors are with IFRS, the more confidence they have in the standards, which echoes the experience in countries that have already adopted IFRS.” stated Sue.
ACCA’s report also identified the issues that are most responsible for shaping US investors’ attitudes towards IFRS. Some of the issues include a fear that IFRS adoption will going to lead to a dangerous loss of US influence over the standard-setting process, and questions of whether IFRS adoption will make it easier to compare the performance of US corporations with that of other companies overseas, and whether US auditors are likely to second-guess management more frequently as a result of IFRS adoption.
“A better understanding of global standards produces greater assurance and it will also prompt more investors to learn about the International Accounting Standards Board and the work they are doing on convergence. The accountancy profession on the global stage as much as in the US will have a significant role to play in educating the business community about global standards and needs to prepare for this.” said Sue.