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Ian Mackintosh discusses the challenges of global standardisation

  • IASB (International Accounting Standards Board) (blue) Image

07 May 2014

IASB Vice-Chairman, Ian Mackintosh gave a speech today at the Manchester Business School on establishing standards for global finance. He discussed the progress the IASB has made and the challenges it faces in achieving global standardisation.

Mr Mackintosh opened his speech reflecting on today’s unique global economy and emphasised the need for internationally-accepted financial reporting standards. He noted that some of the advantages of such standards are (1) a lower cost to multinational companies with international subsidiaries, (2) the facilitation of the work of the regulatory community, and (3) a lower risk and cost of capital allocation.

After providing a brief example, Mr Mackintosh discussed the progress towards global accounting standards. He attributed the success of IFRS to "policymakers in countries [recognising] the compelling need to move to standardise on a globally consistent language for financial reporting." Mr Mackintosh stressed that the IASB's high-quality Standards are developed through an inclusive and transparent due process to meet the needs of its stakeholders.

Mr. Mackintosh went on to discuss the challenges of global accounting standards. He outlined the "three S's":

  • Sovereignty in accounting standard-setting — Mr Mackintosh noted that global accounting standards require that all countries adhere to the standards and "resist the temptation to tinker with the standards." He spoke about the endorsement process and engagement outreach programs, ensuring that the IASB is not "passing down diktats from an ivory tower." He reiterated that countries' decisions not to adopt or amend or add a standard means that it is not a global standard anymore.
  • Structure — Mr Mackintosh described the how the IASB's structure allows the Board the right balance of legitimacy and efficiency. He talked about the reasons the IASB was set up as a private-sector body and the oversight structure of the organisation.
  • Standardisation — Mr Mackintosh explained the challenge of determining what the single, global standards should be. He said "This is significantly complicated by the multitude of different cultural preferences, business practices and accounting traditions that exist in different parts of the world, across the spectrum of developed and emerging economies." 

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

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