International Financial Reporting Standards(IFRS)are a set of accounting standards developed by the International Accounting Standards Board(IASB)that is becoming the global standard for the preparation of public company financial statements.
2.What is the IASB？
The IASB is an independent accounting standard-setting body,based in London.It consists of 15 members from nine countries, including the United States.The IASB began operations in 2001 when it succeeded the International Accounting Standards Committee.It is funded by contributions from major accounting firms,private financial institutions and industrial companies,central and development banks,national funding regimes,and other international and professional organizations throughout the world.While the AICPA was a founding member of the International Accounting Standards Committee,the IASB's predecessor organization,it is not affiliated with the IASB.The IASB neither sponsors nor endorses the AICPA's IFRS resources website(www.IFRS.com).
3.How widespread is the adoption of IFRS around the world？
Approximately 120 nations and reporting jurisdictions permit or require IFRS for domestic listed companies,although approximately 90 countries have fully conformed with IFRS as promulgated by the IASB and include a statement acknowledging such conformity in audit reports.1 Other countries,including Canada and Korea,are expected to transition to IFRS by 2011.Mexico will require IFRS for all listed companies starting in 2012.Japan has introduced a roadmap for adoption that it will decide on in 2012(with a proposed adoption date of 2015 or 2016)and is permitting certain qualifying domestic companies to apply IFRS from fiscal years ending on or after March 31,2010.Still other countries have plans to converge their national standards with IFRS.
4.What is the possibility of the Securities and Exchange Commission substituting IFRS for GAAP？
For many years,the SEC has been expressing its support for a core set of accounting standards that could serve as a framework for financial reporting in cross-border offerings.Most recently on February 24,2010,the SEC issued release Nos.33-9109 and 34-61578,Commission Statement in Support of Convergence and Global Accounting Standards.In the release,the SEC stated its continued belief that a single set of high-quality globally accepted accounting standards would benefit U.S.investors and its continued encouragement for the convergence of U.S.GAAP and IFRS. The release also called for the development of a work plan(theWork Plan)to enhance both the understanding of the SEC's purpose and public transparency in this area.Execution of the Work Plan,combined with the completion of previously agreed upon convergence projects between the FASB and IASB according to their current schedule,will permit the SEC to make a determination,in 2011,regarding incorporating IFRS into the financial reporting system for U.S.issuers.
The SEC made clear that it envisions 2015 as the earliest possible date for the required use of IFRS by U.S.public companies.However,in the statement approved February 24,the SEC said while it is not pursuing an early adoption option,it could reconsider this position later.
5.What are the advantages of converting to IFRS？
By adopting IFRS,a business can present its financial statements on the same basis as its foreign competitors,making comparisons easier.Furthermore,companies with subsidiaries in countries that require or permit IFRS may be able to use one accounting language company-wide.Companies also may need to convert to IFRS if they are a subsidiary of a foreign company that must use IFRS,or if they have a foreign investor that must use IFRS.Companies may also benefit by using IFRS if they wish to raise capital abroad.
6.What could be the disadvantages of converting to IFRS？
Despite a belief by some of the inevitability of the global acceptance of IFRS,others believe that U.S.GAAP is the gold standard,and that a certain level of quality will be lost with full acceptance of IFRS.Further,certain U.S.issuers without significant customers or operations outside the United States may resist IFRS because they may not have a market incentive to prepare IFRS financial statements.They may believe that the significant costs associated with adopting IFRS outweigh the benefits.