SEC Commissioner believes it's time to take step forward

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18 Nov 2015

In a speech at the 34th Annual Current Financial Reporting Issues Conference in New York, SEC Commissioner Michael S. Piwowar commented on the potential alternative of allowing domestic issuers in the U.S. to provide IFRS-based information as a supplement to U.S. GAAP financial statements without requiring reconciliation.

The alternative had been introduced by Jim Schnurr, Chief Accountant of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), at a financial reporting conference in early December 2014. At the annual American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments a week later, Mr Schnurr and Julie Erhardt, Deputy Chief Accountant of the SEC, further discussed this possible option. Since then, little has been heard of the proposal or any other proposal or the progress regarding the rule-making process.

In his speech, Commissioner Piwowar has now pointed out an another benefit the proposal might have in addition not taking away anything from investors who currently use and like U.S. GAAP and lowering the cost of providing IFRS financial reporting for companies want to provide IFRS information:

It is difficult to gauge investor demand for financial reporting under IFRS by U.S. domestic issuers. How does one predict investor demand for IFRS reporting when it is largely not available in the domestic context? For instance, twenty years ago, it was difficult to predict the demand for “smart phones” when the product was not available to the general public. […] Our chief accountant has raised an interesting and incremental approach that should provide further insight as to whether there is investor demand for IFRS reporting. His idea – to allow, but not mandate, IFRS financial reporting as a supplement without reconciliation to GAAP – is worthy of serious consideration. […] It would provide useful data on investor demand for us to analyze. Of course, the specific details would still need to be worked out, but I think – eleven months after the idea was first broached – that the Commission should take this additional step forward.

Please click to access the full text of the speech on the SEC website.

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