McCreevy: The limits of accounting standards

14 Apr 2005

EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy spoke last week in Dublin about The Limits of Accounting Standards: While we must have a framework that minimises the risk of fraud and malpractice if we are to sustain and nurture investor confidence, no investor should delude themselves.

Tougher regulations and laws may help stamp out false accounting. But creative accounting will always be with us – even if recent developments in international accounting standard setting makes it more challenging. That's why the task of the non-executive director, of the fund manager, of the banker, of the supplier or of any other interested party in a company's underlying financial health is to ask the many questions that the published accounts don't answer.

Published accounts will always be like bikinis – much more interesting for what they conceal than for what they reveal – regardless of more exacting accounting standards.

Click to (PDF 75k). See also news stories of 5, 6, and 13 April 2005 for other IFRS-related speeches by the Commissioner.

SEC amends Form 20-F for IFRS adopters

14 Apr 2005

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has adopted amendments to Form 20-F to provide an accommodation to foreign private issuers that change their basis of accounting to IFRSs prior to or for the 2007 financial year.

The amendments also require certain disclosures from all foreign private issuers that adopt IFRSs for the first time during any financial year. The Commission did not, however, change its current requirement for a reconciliation of financial statement items to US generally accepted accounting principles. Click here for (PDF 212k). The (PDF 29k) says that "the Commission is adopting these amendments to promote and encourage the use of IFRSs as a high quality set of accounting standards." The key changes are as follows:

  • Issuers that are registered with the SEC generally are required to provide in their SEC filings three years of audited financial statements prepared on a consistent basis of accounting. The amendments will permit eligible issuers to file two years rather than three years of statements of income, changes in shareholders' equity and cash flows prepared in accordance with IFRS in annual reports and registration statements filed during the first year in which they adopt IFRSs, with appropriate related disclosure. To be eligible to rely on this accommodation, a foreign private issuer must adopt IFRSs for the first time prior to or for its first financial year starting on or after 1 January 2007.
  • The amendments also require certain disclosures from issuers that adopt IFRSs for the first time in any financial year. These requirements relate to an issuer's reliance on any of the transitional measurement exceptions available to a first-time adopter under IFRS and to the reconciliation to IFRS from the issuer's previous basis of accounting.

Elizabeth Hickey is new IASB technical director

13 Apr 2005

The IASB has named Elizabeth Hickey as Director of Technical Activities, effective 1 May 2005. She succeeds Kevin Stevenson, who is returning to his native Australia as a partner in the Global Capital Markets Group at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Since August 2003 Ms Hickey has been the Director of Education of the IASC Foundation. Formerly she was a partner with Ernst & Young in New Zealand and chaired the New Zealand Financial Reporting Standards Board. Click for Press Release (PDF 117k).

Nominees sought for Standards Advisory Council

13 Apr 2005

The trustees of the IASC Foundation are seeking nominations of individuals to serve on the IASB's Standards Advisory Council (SAC).

Qualified candidates will include senior financial officers of corporations, investment analysts with knowledge of accounting issues, partners of audit firms with experience in auditing companies applying IFRSs, executives of international financial and development organisations, and other senior representatives of public interest bodies. SAC members will be expected to attend three to four two-day meetings annually, generally held in London. Terms are for three years. The IASC Foundation does not reimburse travel expenses or provide any fees or honoraria for membership. Click for:

Commissioner McCreevy again speaks about IFRS issues

13 Apr 2005

For the third time this month, Charlie McCreevy, the EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, spoke publicly about issues relating to the IASB and IFRSs.

On 7 April 2005, at a European Policy Centre Breakfast Briefing on the future of Internal Market regulation, Mr. McCreevy discussed convergence of IFRSs and US GAAP and governance of international standard setters such as the IASB. On the latter issue, the Commissioner said:

The governance, financing, participation in and the accountability of international standard setters, in particular the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), is becoming a subject of heated public debate.

The Commission is working hard to influence the reform process underway within the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). We are also looking very carefully at the arrangements proposed for the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) which will elaborate International Standards on Auditing.

The governance of international standard setters is high on our agenda and will remain there in the coming months. During my visit to the US I intend to talk to Paul Volcker, the Chairman of the Board of the IASB Trustees to see how we can best do this. We will also raise these issues in our talks with the other American counterparts.

Click to (PDF 77k). See also our news stories of 5 and 6 April 2005 for other IFRS-related speeches by the Commissioner.

Outcome of IASB-ASBJ convergence meeting

12 Apr 2005

The Accounting Standards Board of Japan has released a Summary of the March 2005 Convergence Meeting (PDF 57k) between the ASBJ and the IASB in Tokyo.

The summary indicates that the two boards agreed to pursue convergence issues in the following five standards in the first phase of the project:
  • Measurement of inventories (IAS 2)
  • Segment reporting (IAS 14)
  • Related party disclosures (IAS 24)
  • Unification of accounting policies applied to foreign subsidiaries (IAS 27)
  • Investment property (IAS 40)
The ASBJ announcement states that while the two boards have agreed on these five topics, "how to proceed further will be announced when it becomes clearer." The next convergence meeting between the two Boards will take place in London in September 2005. Click to go to our Japan Page.

FEE study on audit report implications of IFRSs

12 Apr 2005

The European Federation of Accountants (FEE) has released a discussion paper on Reporting Issues in Relation to Endorsed IFRS and Possible Implications for the Audit Report.

The European Union IAS Regulation requires European listed companies to prepare consolidated financial statements from 2005 on the basis of those IFRS that have been endorsed by the European Commission. Because endorsed IFRSs may not necessarily be the same as full IFRSs because of time lags or 'carve-outs' such as was done with IAS 39, the appropriate wording to describe the accounting framework in the auditor's report and in the accounting policies note must be carefully considered. The FEE discussion paper examines the following questions:
  • How should the financial reporting framework be referred to in the accounting policies in the notes to the financial statements?
  • When the company also complies with full IFRSs, should it refer to that fact?
  • How should the framework be described in the audit report? Can there be a difference in description compared to the reference to the financial reporting framework in the accounting policies?
  • Would the reference to the European financial reporting framework have a clear meaning outside the EU?
FEE invites comments on the issues raised in the discussion paper, with a 31 May 2005 deadline. Click to (PDF 129k).

Questionnaire on SME recognition and measurement

11 Apr 2005

The IASB has published a staff questionnaire on possible modifications of the recognition and measurement principles in IFRSs for use in IASB standards for small and medium-sized entities (SMEs).

The IASB plans to hold public round-table meetings with preparers and users of the financial statements of SMEs, most likely in September 2005, to discuss possible recognition and measurement modifications.

The questionnaire has been prepared by the staff of the IASB as a tool to identify issues that should be discussed at those round-table meetings. Response deadline is 31 May 2005. The questionnaire contains two questions:

Question 1: What are the areas for possible simplification of recognition and measurement principles for SMEs? In responding, please indicate:

  • the specific accounting recognition or measurement problem for an SME under IFRSs;
  • the specific transactions or events that create the recognition or measurement problem for an SME under IFRSs;
  • why is it a problem; and
  • how that problem might be solved.
Question 2: From your experience, please indicate which topics addressed in IFRSs might be omitted from SME standards because they are unlikely to occur in an SME context. If they occur, the standards would require the SME to determine its appropriate accounting policy by looking to the applicable IFRSs.
Click for:


IVSC 2005 standards now available on line

11 Apr 2005

The International Valuation Standards Committee (IVSC) has posted to its website the various sections of International Valuation Standards 2005, including International Valuation Standards (IVSs), International Valuation Applications (IVAs), and International Valuation Guidance Notes.

A printed volume and subscription service are also available.

We comment on the staff paper on IAS 39 FV option

11 Apr 2005

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has submitted comments on the IASB staff paper of 23 March 2005 on the Proposed Amendment to IAS 39: The Fair Value Option–Effective Date and Transition Provisions. The staff paper sets out an overview of certain alternatives on the basis of the Board's tentative decisions.

Our comments are based on this brief paper without full consideration of a detailed analysis of the alternatives. Click to (PDF 51k). Our overall view:

While we remain of the view that the unrestricted fair value option as set out in IAS 39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement (Revised in March 2004) is preferable to a restricted version, we support the Board's current proposal compared to the previous restricted fair value option detailed in the Exposure Draft (June 2004). We encourage the Board to issue the amendment as soon as practicable.

All past Deloitte comment letters to IASB and IASC are Here.

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