FAF annual report discusses international convergence

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04 May 2005

The 2004 Annual Report of the Financial Accounting Foundation (PDF 1.88mb, link to the FASB website), under which FASB operates, discusses international convergence of accounting standards in numerous places, including an interview with FASB Chairman Robert H.

Herz. Mr. Herz notes that "the FASB's standard-setting activities are guided by three key objectives: (1) improvement of financial reporting, (2) simplification of the accounting literature and the standard-setting process, and (3) international convergence." Several of the interview Q&A; relate to convergence, including this one:

How are constituents responding to the prospect of international convergence of accounting standards?

Broadly speaking, I think we are hearing two different points of view on convergence. The first is: 'Why is international convergence taking so long?' which comes from many of the professional users, such as global equity analysts and institutional investors, many foreign-based multinationals, and some U.S.-based global companies. The other is: 'I'm in favor of convergence, but make them do it our way,' which is the response from many U.S. preparers.

We are trying to get on with it in a systematic way together with our colleagues at the IASB through coordinating our agendas, through joint projects on major subjects, through working together to improve the conceptual framework, and through proposing changes on both sides to reduce the number of specific areas of differences between U.S. GAAP and international standards. But convergence clearly means change, and we do need to make sure we adhere to thorough due process so that we ensure that it's not just convergence for the sake of convergence, but also helps improve the quality of the accounting standards and resulting financial reporting. Convergence is a process and a destination with many stations along the way.

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