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IFRS: Is the disconnect as significant as I believe?

May 29th, 2009

            I wanted to follow-up on my posting from last week in which I commented on a recent AICPA press release regarding IFRS preparation. In that commentary I had commented on what appeared to be a disconnect between the preparation of the accounting sector and the timeline being pushed by the SEC for IFRS adoption.  One of my observations involved a review of the USC Leventhal School of Accounting curriculum and the fact that there are only 2 classes of 84 that are international in nature, neither of which even mention IFRS in the course description. I decided to expand the level of research and review accounting programs from a more geographically diverse population and look to top schools churning out new graduates.

 

            I took a look at 8 additional schools, while still keeping the data from USC. These schools included both Top-5 universities, as well as a local Cal State school (Fullerton), which is known for it’s Accounting emphasis.  

 

School

Profile

# Acctg Courses

# Intl / IFRS Courses

University of Chicago

No dedicated school

3

0

Wharton; U of Penn

No dedicated school

19

0

Northwestern

No dedicated school

19 seminars

0

Harvard

Acctg/Mgmt Unit

4

4

University of Michigan

No dedicated school

22

0

University of Southern California

Leventhal School of Accounting

84

2

Loyola-Univ. of Chicago

No dedicated school

15

0

UCLA

No dedicated school

10

0

Cal State Fullerton

Dedicated Program

40

1

 

            What continues to be so surprising to me is that there is hardly a mention of IFRS-related classes offered or that there is even a mention within the course descriptions. Perhaps something more surprising is that these schools are attracting an international student population and these students are not receiving any exposure to IFRS.  Only speculation, but will a lack of emphasis or development in this area affect the decision-making of whether foreign students continue looking to the U.S. for advanced business education?

 

            When I reviewed the course offerings at top schools such as Wharton and Chicago there was not a single mention.  Further, in reviewing the course offerings for the Accounting & Management Unit at Harvard, the courses were somewhat rudimentary in nature when it came to covering accounting topics in a more mechanical manner. Courses included:

         Business Analysis and Valuation using Financial Statements

         Customer Intelligence Advantage

         Designing Organizations for Performance

         Financial Reporting & Analysis for Managers (1/2 course in Spring)

 

My aim here is not to bash any one school or discredit the Accounting programs out there, but to bring light to what appears to be a significant shortfall in the U.S.’s preparation for the adoption, or convergence, of IFRS. Consider the timeline of designing course offerings, implementing that at the University level, bringing those graduates into the working force, and having an “experienced” accounting population ready to address IFRS. I don’t see that happening.   After coordinating an IFRS implementation in North America for a France-based company I have a sincere appreciation for the effort that this takes. I do not see the necessary preparation happening.

 

Is our source of expertise and support going to come from only our EU-based accounting friends? Is the disconnect as significant as it appears, or what I believe?

 

Thanks for reading . . . .

 

Jeffrey Ishmael

 

 

 

 

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