Preparing for international financial reporting standards
The accounting profession is on the precipice of one of the biggest changes to face it since the 1930s. In the very near future, there is a strong possibility that United States generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), as it is known today, will cease to exist. In its place will be a global standard encompassed by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). This paper will provide a history of IFRS and discuss the timeline of convergence, along with advantages and disadvantages. This paper will also address the future impact on accounting education.
Keywords: IFRS, history, timeline, advantages, disadvantages, classroom impact
Preparing for international, Page 1
A HISTORY OF IFRS
In 1973, an organization known as the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) was formed to address the need for standards that could be used by smaller nations in creating their own accounting standards. This group was succeeded by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in 2001. The IASB is based in London and is the private sector standard setting body for non-government and not-for-profit entities. All fifteen members are selected based on technical skills and background from many different countries. At this time, four of the members are American. Two of the sitting members are always part-time. The IASB is primarily funded by fundraising activities. One of the challenges facing the conversion to IFRS is ensuring that the IASB has a stable source of funds for the future. The primary purpose of the IASB is to promulgate IFRS. The governance structure is very similar to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in the United States. The IASB reports directly to the IASC Foundation. The sitting IASB Chair is Sir David Tweedie and the sitting IASC Foundation Chair is Gerrit Zalm (AICPA, backgrounder, 12/11/08, AICPA, online video 12/09/08).
As a result of growth of global markets, the desire of multinational companies for one set of financial statements, and the demand for one common global reporting language, the FASB and the IASB issued the Norwalk Agreement in 2002. This agreement marked their commitment to develop a single set of high quality standards that would decrease cost, increase efficiency and provide better information for investors. Beginning in 2005, the European Union required its listed companies to prepare consolidated financial statements under IFRS. During 2006, the FASB and the IASB embarked on a number of joint major projects. Two actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during 2007 accelerated the timeframe of potential conversion from GAAP to IFRS. In November, an SEC Final Release allowed foreign filers in the U.S. to prepare for submission financial statements in accordance with IFRS without a reconciliation to GAAP. A Concept Release was then issued in December by the SEC seeking feedback on allowing all U.S. public companies the option of using IFRS instead of GAAP. When the AICPA Council updated Rule 203 of the Code of Professional Conduct in May of 2008 to recognize the IASB as an international accounting standard setter, all private companies and not-for-profit entities were given the option of following IFRS (AICPA, backgrounder, 12/11/08, AICPA, online video, 12/09/08).
IFRS, as it is known today, consists of nine IFRS and forty-one IAS, of which some have been superseded. As with the FASB, a strict code of due diligence is employed during the promulgation process. When IASB considers issuing a new standard, they often use previous FASB debates on the same topics (AICPA online video, 12/09/08). Today, more than 12,000 companies in almost a hundred countries have adopted IFRS. These countries either require or permit IFRS as the basis for financial statement preparation by...