FASB and IASB chairs discuss global accounting standards

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04 Dec 2012

At the 2012 AICPA National Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments, FASB Chairman Leslie Seidman and IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst discussed global accounting standards and the future of IFRS in America and around the world.

Ms Seidman spoke first, making it clear that she was summarising her personal views, rather than the official position of the FASB or the FAF. She discussed the unique needs of US stakeholders, noting that short time frames and heavy regulation require clear, unambiguous standards. "I don't believe our system can function over the long run with only broad principles", Ms Seidman noted.

On the topic of convergence, the FASB Chairman stated that "a goal of 100 percent comparability (such as a single set) is not achievable in the near term, for very legitimate reasons, in some of the world's largest capital markets." She suggests that the FASB and IASB should complete the MOU projects, and going forward, the Boards should continue to have discussions with other standard setters to improve accounting standards and make IFRS, US GAAP, and other global accounting standards more comparable. Ms Seidman advocated for a "less formal approach to convergence", similar to what the IASB and FASB had done in the past, noting that "even though the relationship is bound to change, that does not mean we think convergence is over or that divergence will occur".

In his straight-talking speech, Mr Hoogervorst noted that IFRS has enjoyed a strong global impact for many years, and that the success of IFRS does not depend on US convergence. He said that the IASB and the world are looking to the US for a clear sign of their intentions with IFRS and that the US's current position for the need of "greater comparability" between the standards will not suffice. He (and the world) expected that the SEC would have made a decision on transition by now. Mr Hoogervorst made it clear that, in the future, US influence on IFRS will be "commensurate with its commitment to our standards". He discussed the results of the IFRS Foundation staff analysis which concluded that transition to IFRS in the United States would be successful.

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