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IFRS: Misaligned SEC / AICPA Priorities . . . .

May 15th, 2009

While I usually try and remain neutral and stay with the facts as it relates to accounting topics, I read a press release yesterday, which absolutely left me shaking me head with respect to the planned adoption of IFRS reporting in the U.S.  I have posted quite a few entries regarding this area and have my doubts that we are moving towards a successful implementation of these standards in the U.S. and this doubt was further reinforced after the AICPA press release from yesterday.

 

                Keep in mind that the schedule is still in flux as key business representatives are pushing for a delayed adoption of IFRS, but let’s assume that we are going forward with the SEC adoption date of mandated phased-in adoption starting in 2011. With this in mind, the accounting profession, who will be required to provide professional guidance, and my colleagues in the corporate sector, need to already be training on these standards and planning system reporting calendars for adoption.  It will not be as easy as “flipping the switch”. In fact, we ran IFRS reporting parallel to our GAAP reporting for two quarters before fully converting.  Back to the preparation though for IFRS – below is a sampling of statistics from yesterdays IFRS press release:

 

When asked to rate their level of familiarity with IFRS:

a.  36% responded they “want” Advanced or Expert knowledge

b.  24% responded there is a need for “some” knowledge.

c.  21% responded they require a “Basic” knowledge.

d.  There was no info reported on the missing 19%.

 

The AICPA further reported that “CPA’s are still evaluating their business & client needs”.   Really? What is there to evaluate on the “needs” front when the SEC is looking to have mandated phased-in reporting by 2011?

 

The AICPA further reported on the status of IFRS knowledge over the last 6-months:

                a.  22% responded they have no knowledge of IFRS (down from 30%).

                b.  43% have a “Basic” knowledge

                c.  24% have “Some” knowledge.

                d.  There was no info reported on the missing 11%.

 

I would also be interest to know what the difference is between “Basic” and “Some” knowledge.  I feel fortunate that I have been through a full IFRS implementation, but what if I were the CFO of a public company that wanted to start planning for an implementation and was looking to hire consultants, where 69% of the population has only “Basic” or “Some” knowledge?

 

                I took my review one step further and conducted a quick review of what the USC Leventhal School of Accounting is doing to prepare accounting students for what could be a massive shift in accounting standards and reporting.

 

                a.  For the MAcc degree, which has an offering of 21 classes to choose from, only one class was international in nature; Accounting in a Global Environment.

                b.  In further review of the entire Accounting course catalog, which consists of 84 classes, there are only two classes that are international in nature; the one listed above, as well as Taxation of Foreign Business Operations.

                c.  There is not one class that is titled as IFRS specific.

                d.  There is not one class that mentions IFRS in the course description.

 

                I would absolutely welcome feedback, but if we are truly moving towards an implementation of IFRS reporting in the U.S. does it really appear that we are preparing ourselves for this shift?  Does it appear from the stats above that we are being set-up for a massive talent squeeze of IFRS experts who can provide the appropriate guidance? I have had my doubts with the SEC calendar and the likelihood for an IFRS adoption for some time, but now that doubt seems to be further supported.

 

This is one area I’d love to hear back from peers on.

 

Thanks for reading….

 

Jeffrey Ishmael

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