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SEC chair discusses regulation in a global context

  • Speech — gray Image

May 05, 2013

In a speech to the Investment Company Institute (ICI) in Washington, D.C., SEC Chair Mary Jo White gave a broad analysis of the impact of globalization on regulation. In relation to accounting standards, Ms. White highlighted the need to "accommodate different but equally legitimate financial reporting standards."

In the speech, Ms. White highlighted the importance of global regulatory collaboration and cooperation "in a way that does not lower the bar or relax the regulatory and oversight standards that protect investors and stablize markets." Discussing the example of the global regulation of derivatives, Ms. White discussed "substituted compliance" as a means to avoid demands on market participants to comply with two or more possibly conflicting sets of rules, by allowing foreign market participants to comply with their home country's requirements so long as regulatory outcomes are comparable to those under U.S. law.

When later discussing accounting standards, Ms. White reinforced this concept by highlighting the removal of the U.S. GAAP reconciliation for foreign private issuers, the easing of the deregistration procedures, and a simplified Exchange Act registration exemption for foreign companies, the latter "recognizing that it is not necessary to require registration and reporting by a thinly-traded foreign company already listed on a foreign stock exchange and subject to similar oversight in its home country."

Ms. White went on to comment on the SEC's participation in global standard setting, the IASB-FASB convergence projects, and the FASB's founding membership of the IASB's Accounting Standards Advisory Forum (ASAF), before reinforcing the need for global regulation:

But the promise of global accounting standards fades if there is not consistency in their application, implementation, and enforcement. Here again we are active participants not only through the staff’s filing review process of foreign private issuers, but also through our collaboration with foreign counterparts bilaterally as well as through IOSCO.

There was no specific mention in the speech of the possible broader use of IFRS in the United States context. The speech concluded on a broader theme of "maintain[ing] a regulatory structure that accommodates jurisdictional differences without lowering standards" while accepting "an exclusively, or even largely, domestically focused regulatory approach is no longer acceptable or effective."

Click for full text of the speech (link to the SEC's Web site).

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