accounting rules don’t add up
by barney jopson
britain’s biggest companies, once enthutiasthic advocates of internastional accounting standards, have turned sour on the new rules, complaining that they are making accounts more opaque and less usefull. Jon symonds, chairman of the influential hundred group of finance directors, sadi companies were being forced t presents numbers to investors that almost defied explaination. ‘ i don’t want a techical and theoritical approach (to accounting to undermine communication between business and owners’. He told the financial times. International financal reporting standards have changed the face accounts since their ntroduction n the european union this year, requiring listed companies to dig ut previously unreported figures and disclose much other information in a different way. The unhappiness of british companies is an ominous development for rule-makes at the International Accounting Standard Board (IASB) in London, whch has generally found its british constituents more supportive than those in Europe. Mr Symonds, chief financial officer of AstraZeneca, said he supported the goal if a single set of global reporting standard to make accounts clearer and more comparable. But IFRS were developing in the wrong direction and he express reservation about the standard conseptual foundation, the use of fair value accounting and growing US influence offer their form. The new standard are more complex than existing british accounting rules and required greater technical disclosure of a range of items from derivatives and employee stock option to pension fund deficits and off-balance-sheet finance. The introduction of ‘fair value’ accounting, requiring asset and liability revaluations to be passed through the income statement, has already sparked ire elsewhere in th EU. Some companies say it introduces volality into reported profits, distracting attention from underlying performance. “it’s not our objectives to get away from...
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