International Accounting Standards Adoption and Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

" (Camfferman & Zeff, 2) Indeed, the purpose which seems to stand above many others as specific Standards are examined is the improvement of financial reports as informative documents inbuilt with the capacity to educate users as to the financial disposition and outlook of reporting entities.

The declared purpose of the IFRS is to improve the comparability, clarity, relevance and reliability of accounting processes and the resultant financial reporting across a global scale. (IASC Foundation, Framework) This purpose is directly correlated to the apparent direction in which the global economy has thrust itself across the last few decades, with the deconstruction of trade barriers and the forging of encompassing exchange agreements producing a circumstance where proponents view a categorical necessity in standardizing accounting practices. Therefore, in a discussion on the global applications of the IFRS, which is conducted by a consideration of the adoption challenges, procedures and experiences of some key nations, there is a core understanding that many fundamental differences in these nations have rendered the adoption process as widely variant. The global applications of the IFRS, though intended to achieve a sense of uniformity in the eventuality, are presently characterized by transitional processes that naturally differ according to venue. A consideration of some of these processes helps to reveal the status of IFRS with respect to its intention for global application.

Certainly, one of the greatest successes which can be observed of the IFRS at this juncture is that it has experienced a fast and proliferated uptake, with nations actively seeking participation and in some cases, with nations pursuing very aggressive transitional tactics in order to achieve compliance with speed and purpose. At present, it can be said that IFRS though still in its induction phase, is now the largest and most determinant of global accounting bodies. To this point, "approximately 100 countries already require, allow or are in the process of converging their national accounting standards with IFRS. FASB and the IASB have agreed to converge their respective standards. The SEC also has a road map to allow foreign issuers that list on U.S. exchanges to report exclusively in IFRS by 2009." (Gill, 1) There is denoted a clear incentive for such nations as the United States, where considerable and diverse foreign investment and ownership permeates the economy, to achieve a uniformity that eases financial observation and planning.

This is why the United States is undergoing a convergence of its GAAP with the IFRS, in order to bring the accounting principles governing its internal market into concurrence with international conditions. So too are quite a few other major economies. Accordingly "countries such as Japan, the United States and Canada have active programs designed to achieve convergence with IFRS. China's Accounting Standards Committee has announced that convergence is a fundamental goal of its standard-setting program, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has taken up the issue of convergence of Indian accounting standards with IFRS." (Gill, 1) It still bears noting that at this early stage, even many of those nations which have actively and voluntarily attempted to align with IFRS terms have not necessarily succeeded in full in achieving compliance or consistency. Gill (2007) makes the case that there is certainly evidence of a global convergence upon these shared standards but that we are in the incubational phase of this convergence process.

All these factors considered, now is a fully appropriate time to offer a statement such as this account, which intends to provide something an overview to IFRS that serves both as a supplemental document to the issued set of Standards and as a separate account which standing on its own qualifies as a commentary of the IFRS. Accordingly, that the composition of this report coincides with the end of the comment period for the United States, officially denoted to be drawing to a close on April 20, 2009, indicates that this is a timely discourse. (Edwards, 1) Indeed, the issues which are discussed here throughout, both with and without political connotation, are of discreet importance as such nations as the United States come into compliance.

To this point, as anticipated, the uniformity of the IFRS means that the Standards there imposed do tend to vary from one nation to the next with different economic conditions playing a significant role in how the costs of transition and of implementation will be produced. Particularly, findings produced as recently as April of 2009 and derived from Accenture indicate that American firms will pay more to make the transition from the existing U.S. GAAP than will firms in, for one instance, Europe. The report accordingly tells that "U.S. companies will spend between .1% and .7% of annual revenue to move to the global rules. By contrast, European companies making the switch did so at an average cost of .05% of revenue." (Bentley, 1) The article suggests that rules-based rather than risk-based nature of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States differentiated this further from both the counterpart GAAPs used in Europe as well as from the risk-based approach taken by the IFRS.

Because of these differences, in addition to meeting these new terms, U.S. companies will also be expected by the Securities and Exchange Commission to adhere to the terms of the U.S. GAAP. All told, the result will be a set of regulatory demands that impose an average expenditure of roughly $32,000 per company. (Bentley, 1) Some research has found that in contexts especially where some of the terms reflected in the IFRS differ considerably from those which have traditionally emerged from a nation's GAAP, the expense of time, human resource and physical resource in simply learning and adjusting to new accounting conditions will itself represent a cost to the compliant economy. As one report denotes, "implementing IFRS has increased financial reporting risk due to technical complexities, manual workarounds and management time taken up with implementation." (Ellenburger, 1) This means that for adopting countries such as the Untied States, the transition to risk-based conditions is both time-consuming and increases the costly possibility of measurement error due to unfamiliarity with the new Standards.

Here, the matter of greater importance is that this compliance is an inevitability, with the U.S. GAAP already actively undergoing convergence with IFRS. That said, the experiences reflected here in the U.S. convergence are neither fully unique nor do they capture the full range of conflicts for adopting nations. In addition, they will not be seen as deterrents as the transition process gets fully underway. As of summer 2008, "under 'road map' tentatively adopted by a unanimous commission on Aug. 27, the standards would be required in 2014. The largest 20 companies in their industries by market capitalization would be allowed to make the change even sooner. In two months, following a period of public comment, the SEC will vote again." (Epstein, 1) The circumstances therefore denote that where challenges are concerned, it is simply a matter of how these will be addressed as refinement of implementation improves.

To this exact point, there remain many areas of consideration where conflicts between the U.S. GAAP and the IFRS remain unresolved. Edwards (2009) details this condition as it relates to hedge funds, which are at the juncture of Edwards' reporting not addressed by the IFRS. This has produced the false impression amongst hedge fund managers that the uniformity and change in accounting practices will not apply to them. At present, the expectation is that this situation will soon be altered. To the point, "although the application of IFRS requirements to hedge funds and the exact dates for conversion are still under discussion, the proposed timeline of 2014-16 for publicly traded companies (currently 2014 for larger entities and 2016 for smaller entities) suggests at a minimum investment managers should make an effort to understand the differences between U.S. GAAP and IFRS." (Edwards, 1)

This is supplemented by a warning issued by Deloitte & Touche in 2008, where it admonished that though many fund managing firms had dodged the initial rounds of policy-making, they would serve their best interests to anticipate and prepare for the inevitable application of these policies to their respective operations. The major accounting firm echoed the findings in Edwards' study, which dictated that the clear intention of universal application of IFRS, in conjunction with the convergence of the U.S. GAAP therewith, would lead to an inevitable need for compliance with the new standards. To the point, a correspondence issued to its fund managers and clients from Deloitte & Touche indicated to its recipients that "you have a choice . . . either to sit back and wait for it to happen (with all the attendant uncertainty and risk) or mobilize your company in an effort to extract every possible benefit and dodge every avoidable obstacle." (FA, 1)

This captures the conflict internal to the issue. Namely, though the imperative is…

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