IASB chairman discusses Europe, IFRS and convergence

  • Hans Hoogervorst (50x80) Image

09 Sep, 2013

The IASB has posted to its website a speech given today by Chairman of the IASB, Hans Hoogervorst, titled 'Europe and the path toward global accounting standards'. In his speech, Mr Hoogervorst praised the strong relationship between the EU and IASB, discussed how the successes of IFRS and European capital markets are intertwined, provided an update on the IASB's major convergence projects with the FASB, and outlined the IASB's future agenda.

Mr Hoogervorst opened his speech with general comments on the relationship between the European Union, the IASB and IFRS. He acknowledged that Europe's decision to adopt IFRS "gave IFRS the credibility and critical mass it needed to become the single set of global accounting standards". He also noted that IFRS have benefited European markets in that transparency has been increased and costs of capital  for listed companies have decreased since adoption. Mr Hoogervorst also commended the EU for its thorough endorsement procedure and recognised that the EU adopting IFRS without significant adaptations speaks highly of the quality of IFRS. He went on to discuss the adoption of IFRS in other countries, mentioning the jurisdiction profiles recently released by the IFRS Foundation.

Mr Hoogervorst then provided an update on the remaining IASB-FASB convergence projects:

  • Revenue recognition: A new standard is expected within the next 3 months.
  • Leases: The contentious issue is putting lease contracts on the balance sheet.
  • Impairment: The FASB and IASB agree that an expected loss model is needed but have trouble agreeing on the mechanics. Mr Hoogervorst explains "One reason why we find it difficult to come to a common answer is that an expected loss model inherently has a relatively high degree of subjectivity, because it deals with uncertain outcomes in the future. There is no straightforward answer on how this can be done." He also confident that progress will be made at the September joint board meeting.
  • Insurance contracts: The IASB's recent exposure draft is a step toward the ultimate goal of creating a more realistic view of the true performance of the insurance industry. Mr Hoogervorst cited the EIOPA's recent concern that some insurance companies will not be able to meet their capital requirements because of persistent low interest rates on the industry. There is concern that the ambiguity in current insurance reporting may keep this potential crisis from being fully exposed. 

After a brief excursion on the Conceptual Framework Discussion Paper, Mr Hoogervorst went on to discuss the importance of improving financial reporting disclosures — developing more concise, understandable and helpful documentation. He also mentioned the 10-point plan he presented in June 2013 to improve disclosures in financial reporting.

Please click for access to the full text of the speech on the IASB website.

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