Saturday, June 28, 2008

IFRS and US GAAP: The FASB's two horses

Much was said about the FASB and “riding two horses” at the recent FASB Forum on IFRS dealing with issues relating to the possible adoption of IFRS in the USA.

A date for adoption by US companies is yet to be set. If I was a betting woman I would say that the odds seem good that the USA will eventually adopt IFRS in some form or other. Perhaps you might say the odds would be evens or better? When will they adopt IFRS that’s the $64,000 question, with inflation the $64 million or perhaps the $64 billion question. Inflation has a habit of getting out of hand (that’s another question)

A date is required so that other things such as training and college education can proceed. What are the odds on which date? 2011 – 500 to1, 2013 - 2 to 1, 2015 – evens. There is a variety of opinion here. (I have seen reports that a date will not even be announced for two years!)

An even more difficult question is what conditions will the SEC/FASB/IRS/Regulators etc . have in order to ink a deal to adopt IFRS? Several thoughts have been advanced. I have heard there should be a “much improved” IFRS (with more guidance?), further convergence before implementation, a moratorium on standards issuance of up to 3 years on conversion (i.e. no IFRS standards for 2 years before conversion and one year after), a five-year conversion period etc. I have also heard a suggestion that perhaps , in the first instance, only some companies would be allowed to adopt IFRS for industry comparability? This is all too complicated to handicap.

We are following this debate in Canada with a lot of interest as the USA is our main trading partner. Many of our companies raise capital in the USA.

Perhaps in order to bring the USA to the altar there will need to be a good prenuptial agreement (and a postnuptial) agreement?

The FASB is acting in good faith here and is doing yeoman work in working of convergence projects. This is a good thing in any event. And Canada is also actively working on these convergence projects. Of course we have the 2011 conversion and adoption date to provide focus!

Now to the FASB’s other horse----

The FASB continues to work on improvements to US GAAP. After all it certainly has a mandate to do that. You might be interested in one development that seems to be somewhat quietly happening in the background. There is a project to codify US GAAP and the project is in its latter stages. Anybody who has worked with US GAAP knows that it can be difficult to work with if you are not working with it continuously. There are many sources of US GAAP and the FASB is working towards codification to provide one set of US GAAP A prototype is in the process of trial and anyone can sign up and try it for free and provide comments. For more information see

It is also keyword searchable. I wish I had a tool like this years ago. The codified GAAP is still in the trial phase and should not be used as an authoritative source of US GAAP. The codification project was reviewed in the Podcast Accounting Best Practices with Steve Bragg, Episode 62 on Accounting Standards codification. You can down load the Podcast into iTunes. You could transfer it to your iPod if you have one. I love my iPod – it’s indispensible to me.

Stay tuned in.

1 comment:

The IFRS Exorcist © said...

Readers might like to go and read an article in CFO Magazine

This article there should be a moratorium as a condition of IFRS implementation in the USA. This was the suggestion of an FASB Board member at a recent FASB update.