SEC official comments on IFRS and US Companies – A Look Ahead

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09 Jun 2008

John W. White, Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the US Securities and Exchange Commission Financial Executives International spoke about IFRS and US Companies: A Look Ahead at Financial Executives International's Global Financial Reporting Convergence Conference in New York on 5 June 2008.

His remarks focussed on the policy level implications of the possible use of IFRSs by US companies. Click to Download Mr White's Presentation (PDF 102k). Below is an excerpt. Mr White's concluding comment: "I truly believe that the endpoint will be US issuers using IFRS and that it is time to move in this direction. The SEC can provide leadership by planning now for how that result might be brought about, which in turn could provide US issuers with greater clarity in this area."

I think there are a number of policy issues that need to be the subject of public discussion and input. Among the more interesting questions are:

  • Should US companies be permitted to prepare their financial statements using IFRS for purposes of their SEC filings?
  • Should US companies be required to prepare their financial statements using IFRS?
  • And for both of those questions:
    • Should only some subset of US companies be permitted, or required, to use IFRS, or should any movement to IFRS be available or required of all companies?
    • And, if it is desirable to have only a subset go first, then how should that subset be defined?
    • What kind of timeframe and what kind of transition procedures should be involved for either permissive or universal use of IFRS for US companies?
  • And, let us not overlook, what is the SEC's role in answering these questions?
  • More generally, I think it is also a fair question to ask: why is the Commission even considering allowing, much less requiring, US companies to use IFRS?


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