The International Accounting Standards Board thinks it's high time that we all got back to basics. Too much of this non-GAAP nonsense has people thinking they can just throw some numbers around and put labels on 'em. Well, IASB chairman Hans Hoogersvorst, for one, is ready to tighten things up a bit: The IASB, which […]
After releasing its proposal to delay its revenue recognition rule back in April, the IASB received 100 comment letters and "virtually all" of them supported the idea. Today, they went ahead and pushed it back to 2018. Hope everyone's happy. [WSJ]
"The quality of financial information produced by IFRS is very high, thanks to the work of the IASB, but also to the convergence project with the United States. And a decade of use by both advanced and developing economies has shown that our mission of a s ingle set of high global accounting standards is […]
You know, I have to give it to these guys, they are nothing if not persistent. They are like that lady who is always calling me to talk about my credit card interest rates; no matter how many times I cuss her out, hang up on her, threaten to report her to the pretend federal […]
Funny that the IASB and FASB working together on a new lease accounting standard was totally kumbaya up until recently, when everything fell apart and both sides realized this convergadoption thing is totally never going to happen. Too bad, joining forces on revenue recognition made it seem so likely despite the fact that everyone including […]
Hans Hoogervorst doesn’t sound at all passive aggressive here or anything:
The IASB has been frustrated with heel-dragging on this side of the pond for as long as the U.S. has been pretending to work toward adopting international financial reporting standards. Despite the fact that only a few short weeks ago, we thought progress on shared revenue recognition rules meant promise for convergadoption. At that time, […]
Knowing us, you can guess where we're going with this. We're not writing a how-to guide on the new revenue recognition rules, which brings us straight to our first thing you need to know: there are folks in the know available to walk you through it. #1: A transition resource group is here to help […]
What's that you say, Hans? No one wants more liabilities on their balance sheet? "Obviously, this standard is not a very popular one," IASB chief Hans Hoogervorst said in a conference call. "Generally, companies like off-balance-sheet financing" and the standard will put an end to a major part of it, he said. Well, that's […]
Right now, the FASB and IASB are nowhere near agreeing on how loan loss accounting should be done and fifteen (!!!) banks including Bank of America, JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo would like the rulemaking bods to get their act together: While we acknowledge the difficulty inherent in reconciling disparate points of view, we […]
Banks really appreciate the effort to move away from the recognition of losses as they occur approach, FASB, but: The American Bankers Association has published a “frequently asked questions” document reacting to FASB's approach. The group sees FASB's proposal as an improvement over the existing requirement, but still has concerns. “While the incurred loss […]
Back in November the IASB came up with the idea to start a new cool club called the Accounting Standards Advisory Forum. It was going to include 12 elite members of accounting rule wonkery that would be at the forefront of global financial reporting. There was one major to joining the ASAF, however, and that was […]
Back in November, the IASB threw out this Accounting Standards Advisory Forum idea that would allow a dozen national rulemaking bodies to get together and talk fancy about debits and credits. An accounting cool club, if you will. There was one small catch — anyone in the club had to sign on as supporters of […]
This morning we learned that the ICAEW gave up, refusing to go along with the lie that the IASB has been telling itself all this time — "They'll call. They'll realize that they've been wasting their time with U.S. GAAP all this time and they'll call." Those chartered accountants in England and Wales simply […]
You know, losing a partner to a larger, more prestigious rival is one thing; losing a partner to an international rulemaking body that has spent the past few years trying to convince everyone to join their cool accounting club but can't manage to convince the coolest kid on the block to join is quite another. The […]
Accounting rule convergence is dead. I know it. You know it. Hans Hoogervorst knows it. Everyone has accepted the fact that the SEC managed to tell IFRS supporters to stick their principles-based rules where the sun don't shine in the most passive-aggressive way possible. Yes, the IASB is still coming up with pathetic ideas to […]
Once upon a time, a few people got together and decided that we'd all be better off if businesses worldwide were all using one harmonious set of accounting rules. In 2001, when IASB took over as the main international standard-setting body for accounting rules, it ushered in the era of IFRS to be the gold standard […]
The last ten years haven't gone exactly the way the bookworms at the FASB wanted. The Norwalk Agreement, signed in 2002, was supposed to be the first step in resolving the differences between international financial reporting standards and Almighty U.S. GAAP. Alas, despite a lot of agreeing, disagreeing, and agreeing to disagree we've ended up […]
Thank you, readers, for forwarding your spam to us. @going_concern Kindly help me complete this survey on the proposed lease reforms surveymonkey.com/s/LKFDN8P — MachO (@bakersavi) September 24, 2012 The best way to complete the survey is to click the delete button located near the top of your Outlook window. But don't worry. A less optimal […]
The foot-dragging by the SEC over IFRS is a sight to behold. At some point in time – the Triassic Period, or thereabouts – the G20 requested "key global accounting standards bodies [to] work intensively toward the objective of creating a single high-quality global standard." And yet on Friday, the SEC served up a steaming pile of […]
If I didn't know any better, I'd think this story was from 2008. The head of the International Accounting Standards Board said Tuesday it is "very important" for the U.S. to embrace global accounting rules and said he believes a key regulator would soon take a position on whether to adopt them for American companies. […]
This is the fourth installment of our Going Concern freelancer submissions. The following is by Dylan Grey. A little bird has been whispering IFRS in my ear for years…. Discussed at every financial reporting update. Front and center of every annual SEC "Hot Topics" list. Mocked by CFOs across the US. Back in November 2008, […]
“The simple truth is that when you have two independent, highly competent boards, sometimes they will agree with each other, and other times they will not,” he said. “It’s not that one is right and the other wrong; they just reach different conclusions. The same would be true if I were to split my board in two and ask them to consider 10 projects. I doubt each smaller board would reach identical conclusions on all 10 projects, so convergence would require compromises to be made. Convergence therefore does not always result in the highest quality outcome. It has served its purpose, but now it is time to move on. [AT]
The aim is for companies across the world to recognise revenue consistently as part of wider efforts to forge a single set of global acccounting rules to help investors. The core principle that a company must recognise income from contracts when it transfers the goods or services to the customer remains unchanged. But the proposal has been simplified in parts and contains more guidance after several sectors like construction and telecoms raised concerns. “Our proposals will give analysts and investors the confidence that revenue is being presented on a consistent basis, across industries and continents,” IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst said in a statement. “We plan to conduct additional outreach with interested parties during the comment period to help people understand the proposed guidance and to listen to any remaining concerns,” said FASB Chairman Leslie Seidman. [Reuters]
Now, let’s keep in mind he said this at an “IFRS and Emerging Market” meeting in Lagos, and meant it in regards to African companies.
Retired IASB board member Bob Garnett said for any country seeking membership of G20, becoming IFRS compliant is a must. He also said African companies will need to work together in regional groups to have more weight as they will not gain necessary influence on their own because they do not have the IFRS track record yet.
The pre-workshop meeting at which Garnett made these comments was organized by Ernst and Young (“a leading voice in IFRS converstion,” according to Nigerian publication The Nation).
Remember it was only days ago that the IASB’s fearless fish-loving leader Hans Hoogervorst was in Boston assuring U.S. regulators they’d have a say in IFRS rules if they’d just hurry up and adopt already. No mention was made about kicking us out of G20 if we don’t embrace IFRS fully and soon.
Anyone else smelling the distinct aroma of desperation?
Also last week at the Boston conference, AICPA CEO Barry Melancon said the SEC should allow U.S. companies to use IFRS if they want “to level the playing field with their international competitors.”
IFRS cheerleading sessions are taking place all around the world at this point, and it’s only a matter of time before the SEC will finally be forced to commit to a plan and adopt. Or else?
While the world is filled with torment, class warfare, famine, racism, war and uprising, those darn kids at the IASB are still concerned with one thing and one thing only. That one thing, obviously, is the U.S. adoption of IFRS.
Anyone else get the feeling Hans and Co. are getting a tad impatient with our heel dragging?
Piggybacking off the post Caleb was too lazy to write himself yesterday, we hear IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst said in a Boston speech yesterday that adopting IFRS would offer U.S. public companies “the same financial reporting language for both internal management reporting and external financial reporting on a worldwide consolidated basis.” Where this is a benefit for us is entirely unclear to me, but that’s why I’m not chairman of the IASB.
Ol’ Hansy also promised that the U.S. would still play a pivotal role in shaping global accounting rules if we go ahead and trust them and adopt outright now. It is unclear whether that was a threat or not, as it is also unclear if he really thinks we’re that dumb.
This is the IASB chair’s first American speech, and in it he also said that the SEC can serve as a sort of emergency switch should the IASB decide to implement a rule that just won’t work in U.S. markets. “Such endorsement mechanisms provide an important ‘circuit breaker’ if the IASB produced a standard with fundamental problems for the United States,” he told the conference.
“So there is absolutely no danger of importing different enforcement standards from abroad into the United States,” he said. You hear that, kids? Absolutely no danger. Well crap, why haven’t we adopted these fabulous standards already then? It can’t possibly fail, the IASB told us it’s all good!
Hoogervorst said U.S. sovereignty would be protected by the SEC having a final say before any IASB rule is introduced. “Such endorsement mechanisms provide an important ‘circuit breaker’ if the IASB produced a standard with fundamental problems for the United States,” Hoogervorst told an accounting conference. The SEC would remain in full control of enforcement. “So there is absolutely no danger of importing different enforcement standards from abroad into the United States,” the former Dutch finance minister added. [Reuters]
Count IASB Vice Chairman Ian Mackintosh as one.
Ian Mackintosh called the IASB a success story, saying global standards are now accepted in more than 120 countries and high-profile non-signer the US will make a decision later this year.
Investors: IFRS unfit for purpose [Accountancy Age]
Floored. Just floored.
Financial Accounting Standards Board chair Leslie Seidman said that many of the priority projects slated for convergence with the International Accounting Standards Board probably will not be settled until next year at the earliest.
Les will have all you haters know that this adjusted timeline has been well received by those that are taking this shit seriously:
This is a real process with real outreach and real consideration of the issues that have been raised. And the fact of the matter is that it takes time to work through these issues. The changes which we have made to the timetable, which we have made jointly with the IASB, have been very well received among the constituents who take this process seriously. They are very supportive of our strong commitment to making sure that we end up with improved standards here that are going to stand the test of time.
So if you were expecting Fisher Price accounting rules, you can forget it. These beautiful babes will be used to line up the debits and credits when Spacely Sprockets finally breaks ground.
“It is my strong conviction that the momentum behind IFRS is so strong right now it can only be delayed but it cannot be stopped any more,” IASB’s chairman Hans Hoogervorst said.
The United States has an “extremely important” decision to make this year on whether to replace its own Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)standard with IASB rules, Hoogervorst told a webcast meeting of the IASB’s trustees in New York. By next year two thirds of the world’s top 20 economies (G20) will be allowing or requiring local listed companies to use the IFRS accounting rules. [Reuters, Earlier]
In case you thought the fair value debate was limited to the U.S. circa 2008, think again. A rule you probably haven’t heard of (but will likely see a version of once government debt becomes as much of a pain in the ass here as it has been in Europe) called IFRS 9 (which replaces IAS 39) would allow banks to price some government debt on their books at cost, instead of current awful prices.
Apparently the European Union doesn’t like this idea. EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier told a webcast meeting in New York this week “I do not believe this will be the first solution to the problems we face in Europe at the moment,” referring to IFRS 9‘s creative interpretation of “fair value.” Ironically, IFRS 9 accomplishes this feat by eliminating available for sale and held-to-maturity classifications for bonds, leaving only amortized cost and fair value.
IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst insists this plan is really only the suck less option, not some sort of magical accounting trick that will suddenly make Greece solvent and Irish banks healthy. “Under IFRS 9 impairments will still be painful but I am convinced it would be more timely done because the cliff effect is much less severe,” he said at a recent joint meeting of the IASB’s trustees and monitoring board of public officials, including Michel Barnier.
Representatives of large institutional investors told the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that they had serious qualms about the London-based International Accounting Standards Board replacing the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board as the primary arbiter of accounting rules in this country.
Speaking at an SEC panel focusing on investor views of international financial reporting standards, the representatives roundly supported the goal of establishing a single set of high-quality global financial reporting standards in the United States in the form of IFRS. But they suggested that the IASB, the current promulgator of IFRS, lacks the backbone and outreach capability of FASB — qualities that would be needed for a global system to succeed. [CFO]
Because, god, wouldn’t that be awkward?
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US-based Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) agreed today to re-expose their revised proposals for a common revenue recognition standard. Re-exposing the revised proposals will provide interested parties with an opportunity to comment on revisions the boards have undertaken since the publication of an exposure draft on revenue recognition in June 2010.
It was the unanimous view of the boards that while there was no formal due process requirement to re-expose the proposals it was appropriate to go beyond established due process given the importance of the revenue number to all companies and the need to take all possible steps to avoid unintended consequences.
Sir David Tweedie admits that, “It is important that we get this right, first time,” and “the boards and staff have undertaken an unprecedented level of outreach to get us to this point, and why we are keen to treble-check that our conclusions are robust and can be implemented with minimal disruption.”
Maybe I’m reading too much into that statement but it sounds as though the Boards may be trying to stave off more nasty letters.
[via FAF/IFRS Foundation]
The International Accounting Standards Board is none-too-pleased that India has retreated from plans to fully adopt International Financial Reporting Standards this year and is a making a public push to get the country back on track. A failure to persuade India on the issue would raise serious questions about how successful IASB can be in convincing other major economies, including the U.S., China and Japan, to make a full switch. “To put it in one sentence, we strongly encourage adoption as against convergence,” IASB member Prabhakar Kalavacherla said at a conference in Mumbai last week, according to a copy of his speech, where he urged India to take a bigger role in international standard setting to address its concerns. [CFO Journal]
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today issued new guidance on fair value measurement and disclosure requirements for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and US generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
The guidance, set out in IFRS 13 Fair Value Measurement and an update to Topic 820 in the FASB’s Accounting Standards Codification® (formerly referred to as SFAS 157), completes a major project of the boards’ joint work to improve IFRSs and US GAAP and to bring about their convergence.
The harmonisation of fair value measurement and disclosure requirements internationally also forms an important element of the boards’ response to the global financial crisis.
Of course what’s most important is that wily Scotsman and knight of the double-entry roundtable Sir David Tweedie will be able to call it a career knowing that he saw this thing through. He sounds pretty pleased with the effort saying, “The finalisation of this project marks the completion of a major convergence project and is a fundamentally important element of our joint response to the global financial crisis. The result is clearer and more consistent guidance on measuring fair value, where its use is already required.” Hans, you can take it from here.
We’re sure all of you have been anxious for an update since the last FASB/IASB progress report last November, wait no longer.
• Completed five projects: In the next few weeks the IASB will issue new standards on consolidated financial statements (including disclosure of interests in other entities), joint arrangements and post-employment benefits and both boards will issue new requirements in relation to fair value measurement and the presentation of other comprehensive income.
• Given priority to the three remaining Memorandum of Understanding projects, as well as insurance accounting: The Boards have made substantial progress towards completion of the three remaining MoU projects covering financial instruments accounting, leasing and revenue recognition, as well as their joint project to improve and align US and international insurance accounting standards.
• Provided for further time to finalise their convergence work: The boards have agreed to extend the timetable for the remaining priority convergence projects beyond June 2011 to permit further work and consultation with stakeholders in a manner consistent with an open and inclusive due process. The convergence projects are targeted for completion in then second half of 2011 (however, the U.S. insurance standard, which has not yet been exposed, is targeted for the first half of 2012).
Wait a second, did they really say that putting off more convergence work is an accomplishment? That’s our kind of work right there. IASB Chair Sir David Tweedie and FASB Chair Leslie Seidman didn’t let that little detail deter them from patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Said Sir David, “the convergence programme continues to raise the standard of financial reporting worldwide, delivering much-needed improvements in key areas and providing a solid platform for global high quality standards.” What is that even supposed to mean? Sounds like the same pro-convergence gibberish we’ve been hearing all along.
Someone come get us when this actually means something.
[T]he tediously-reported proclamation of real convergence commitment has never been more than a smokescreen behind which the divergent interests of the Americans and the Europeans have knocked heads to the point of insensibility. (For which, recall the continued fudging of the SEC as to whether, if ever, that agency is even going to confirm a date certain on which to decide if to weigh in or not […].) Why no-one has called the question on this endless charade reflects the two-level fantasy in the dialog: the IASB and the FASB both pretend to believe in the desirability of fully-converged accounting standards, and the community of financial statement issuers and users pretend to believe them. [Re:Balance]
Rule makers concluded this week that “we all could benefit from a few more months to develop these standards, some of which really go to the core issues of many companies,” said Leslie Seidman, chairman of FASB, in a podcast issued Thursday. Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the IASB, said rule makers still intend to finish their convergence work by year’s end. The delay, he said in the podcast, will “enable us to check whether our conclusions will last the test of time. … We would never release a standard before it is ready and ultimately it must be a high-quality standard or you just can’t issue it.” [WSJ]
He may be on his way out the door but still IASB chair David “that’s Sir David to you” Tweedie is still sick of all our heel-dragging on IFRS in the U.S. He hasn’t gone so far as to say we’ll be left in the capital market dust if we don’t adopt tomorrow but he’s clearly fed up with our procrastination.
If they put off a commitment to international financial reporting standards beyond 2011, U.S. accounting rulemakers and standard-setters would impose “unnecessary costs and risks on U.S. companies,” Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board, said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering on the future of financial reporting.
The major risks are competitive ones, said Tweedie. U.S.-based multinationals already must fill numerous sets of accounting books. Many must file their financials under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles even as they report on the activities of their overseas subsidiaries under IFRS or the standards crafted by individual nations, he pointed out. At the same time, their foreign competitors can use IFRS for all purposes, even for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he added.
As is, the transition to IFRS is estimated to cost American companies $35 million per year (remember 3 years of restatements will be required). We’re not sure if he has access to different estimates that somehow make qualified IFRS monkey restatements more expensive in 2012 and beyond than they would be by the end of this year but it seems painfully clear that he means business.
I’m not sure if he missed the memo but we don’t seem as enthusiastic about convergence as we did when we delayed the release of a roadmap in 2008. Three years later, we don’t appear to be any more prepared for the transition than we were then and still have three (or make that four) more good years to drag our heels according to recent statements by the SEC.
How much clearer does Tweeds need it? We’re just not that into your standards.
Your next IASB chairman, Hans Hoogervorst, already has a few things on his to do list (right after scratching Sir David Tweedie’s name off the door), one of which involves restoring investor confidence by redoing last year’s bank stress tests in Europe since it seems they were not really credible, “One reason for scepticism was that sovereign bonds on the banking book were deemed to retain their full value, despite the fact that many were trading at steep discounts in the market,” he said. “The fact that some Irish banks that had passed the test later turned out to be insolvent only served to reinforce the doubts in the market.”
Doubts? That’s a kind way to put it.
Speaking at the two-day European Commission financial reporting and auditing conference, Hoogervorst also wanted to make sure everyone is clear on who rules the IASB. Despite appearances that rules are made by a handful of influential Europeans who like to play with accounting regs, he insisted the IASB is a multi-national group in which everyone gets a say. Or rather, he insisted that he’ll be trying to make sure the IASB is perceived as such, “It’s very important that we develop a governance structure that is more inclusive. At all costs we should avoid the perception that IFRS is dominated by a small group of nations,” he said. He did not seem to clarify if he was more worried about the actual structure of the IASB or just the appearance, nor did he mention how many U.S. delegates will have at the IASB’S table if we were to stop dragging our feet and just adopt already.
While auditors are taking a lot of heat for failing to catch just how bad off European banks were, H-squared doesn’t seem to feel they deserve so much criticism as they were simply following the rules. “How critical will auditors be when they see that regulators consider that severely discounted securities carry no risk?” he asked, obviously rhetorically.
Also in attendance at the conference, Federal Reserve senior associate director and chief accountant Arthur Lindo, who is hopeful that we here on this side of the pond will “move diligently towards some form of IFRS in the near future.” What Lindo did not say was whether or not the Fed would also adopt these rules or continue to use their freakish hybrid of GAAP and government accounting that they make up each and every year. Perhaps convergence will mean throwing in some IFRS into their 300+ page financial accounting manual.
Looks like Hans is going to have his hands full for the foreseeable future. Veel geluk met dat!
As you probably remember, head knight of the double-entry accounting round table, Sir David Tweedie, is retiring in a few months to be replaced by this guy. Until then, however, the wily Scotsman will be running the show and he’s still pitching IFRS as if the life of the financial reporting universe depended on it. Just like Bob Herz, he’s in this thing until the very end.
CFO has a brief Q&A with SDT and despite the USA’s pussyfooting around the issue, he manages to rush to our defense at the suggestion of haters that the IASB should give us the “throw the bums out” treatment:
Some critics grumble that if the United States does not adopt IFRS, it should be ousted from the IASB and the board of trustees. What’s your opinion?
I get quite angry at some of the comments we get insisting that the United States be ousted. People say that America would have to come around because the U.S. share of global-market capitalization is falling all the time. The complaint is, “We’re not having [the United States] tell us what to do if they don’t use international standards.” I can understand that, and you can have international standards without the United States. But you can’t have global standards without the United States. So there is more work to be done on that issue.
So in other words, suck it world! You can keep your international standards. We’ve got a knighted Scotsman who even said you’ll make due without us. Call it whatever you like, just don’t call it “global” without us. Because you can’t spell “global” without “A”… which stands for…er….”America.” BASTARDS.
[BREATHE] Never mind that. The most interesting bit is that Tweeds appears to blow the lid of the Big 4 omertá:
What’s been your experience with professional judgment? Many U.S. practitioners say a heavy reliance on judgment won’t work in America’s litigious environment.
As a technical partner at KPMG, I was always being asked to evaluate situations that were outside of issued guidance. It’s the same in the United States — you get questions you’ve never thought about before, and there’s nothing in the standards addressing it. So you kick it around with the client, the client partners, and other senior partners in the firm. You come up with a position.
[My approach was to] ring up Deloitte, for example, and say, “Have you had one of these [situations]?” There is sort of a technical-partner mafia that gets together and says, “Yeah, we had one of these.” So, in a way, the profession fixes the problems.
So whether this is happening under the nose of the brass or with their full and unmitigated support can’t be determined, although we won’t be surprised if the old man ends up “retiring” early.
Tweedie Takes a Bow [CFO]
EC proposes mandatory rotation of auditors [Accountancy Age]
“The European Commission is proposing a radical restructure of the audit industry including a multinational regulator, mandatory rotation and caps on advisory fees.
Some proposals, audit to draw up living wills or a detailed “long form report” for regulators or hive off their audit arms, under the measures raised in a new green paper”
18,000 Tagging Errors in XBRL Filings So Far [CFO]
“Companies that have filed data-tagged quarterly and annual reports appear to be handling the task fairly well, even as the overall number of errors continues to pile up.
About 500 of the largest companies were required to use XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, to tag data in their financial statements for periods ending on or after June 15, 2009. As of June 15 of this year, approximately 900 more companies had to do so, and the first group of filers additionally had to tag all amounts and tables in their financial-statement footnotes.”
IASB a tightrope walk for Hans Hoogervorst [FT]
“The appointment of Hans Hoogervorst, 54, as chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board raises two big questions
First, does it matter that he is not an accountant? Second, will his elevation lessen the likelihood that the US will adopt the IASB’s IFRS accounting rules in place of its own?
The lack of professional qualifications were not a concern for Michael Izza, chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
‘I don’t think that it is an issue,’ he said on Tuesday, citing the simultaneous appointment of Ian Mackintosh – a veteran accounting standards-setter with enviable professional credentials – in a supporting role as IASB vice-chairman.”
Some IRS servers down during crucial filing week [AP]
Move along, nothing to see here.
Team Paladino’s Roger a ‘dodger’ [NYP]
“Roger Stone, a key adviser to Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, owes Uncle Sam more than $400,000 in unpaid taxes, The Post has found.
The Internal Revenue Service filed a $405,035 lien for unpaid income taxes against the consultant — one of politics’ most notorious dirty tricksters — and his wife, Nydia, last fall in Dade County Circuit Court in Florida, records show.
The debt makes Stone the second high-profile Paladino adviser to run afoul of the taxman. Paladino’s campaign manager, Stone protégé Michael Caputo, recently admitted to a federal tax debt topping $52,000, although he says he’s paid back all but $9,302.”
Rand Paul supports replacing income tax with higher sales tax, eliminating IRS [LCJ]
“Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul said Tuesday the federal tax code is a ‘disaster,’ and he wants to replace the income tax with a 23 percent sales tax on goods and services.
Paul said he supports changing the federal tax code to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service and would vote to repeal the 16th Amendment that created the federal income tax.
‘The federal tax code is a disaster no one would come up with if we were starting from scratch,’ Paul said in a written statement distributed by an anti-tax group and verified by Paul’s campaign. ‘I support making taxes flatter and simpler. I would vote for the FairTax to get rid of the 16th Amendment, the IRS and a lot of the control the federal government exerts over us.’
Paul refused to answer questions on the issue during a campaign stop in Louisville Tuesday afternoon. At a previous stop in La Grange, he told reporters he’d also like to see the U.S. Department of Education eliminated.”
The Year of Magical Thinking [TaxVox]
“California is just always in a budget mess. Indeed, the state has faced operating shortfalls – or gaps between inflows and outflows – in every year since 2002.
But this year, it would seem that state lawmakers and outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have really outdone themselves. They busted through last year’s tardiness record by enacting a budget 100 days into the new fiscal year. Like last year, they balanced the books – but with a combination of spit and polish and pixie dust. ”
“They will help investors to better understand off-balance sheet risks, and to alert them to the possibility of so-called window dressing transactions occurring at the end of a reporting period.”
~ Sir David Tweedie talking up the new rules that were published by the IASB today.
Just because Golden Boy is assuming Roberto’s seat on Friday, don’t think Herz is spending his final days as the FASB Chairman perusing the web for the latest D-list celebrity sex tape:
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today announced the completion of the first phase of their joint project to develop an improved conceptual framework for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and US generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP).
The objective of the conceptual framework project is to create a sound foundation for future accounting standards that are principles-based, internally consistent and internationally converged. The new framework builds on existing IASB and FASB frameworks. The IASB has revised portions of its framework; while the FASB has issued ‘Concepts Statement 8’ to replace ‘Concepts Statements 1 and 2’.
This first phase of the conceptual framework deals with the objective and qualitative characteristics of financial reporting. As part of the consultation process, the IASB and FASB jointly published a discussion paper and exposure draft that resulted in more than 320 responses.
Along with the heavy lifting that comes with the FASB chairmanship, we imagine Herz is also doing some reflecting this week as his tenure comes to an end. You know, reading some of his favorite comment letters and drafting a farewell/thanks for all the good times email to Barney Frank and the ABA. Stuff like that.
IASB and US FASB Complete First Stage of Conceptual Framework [Business Wire]
This means you PricewaterhouseCoopers. You’re acting like this convergence/IFRS adoption is just happening too fast, well, Tweeds isn’t having it.
As for you companies out there that actually have to keep their books in tiptop shape, Sir Tweeds isn’t so amused by your bellyaching either. And for the love of God, would everyone quit playing dumb:
“Let’s look at what we’ve got out there at the moment – leases, revenue recognition and insurance. If you’re not an insurance company you’ve got two. Big deal,” he said.
“I’m not terribly sympathetic. It’s not as thought these have sprung out of no where, we’ve been working on these, they’ve seen the drafts coming, they know what we’re doing.
Furthermore, maybe if you got some of your people on this instead of writing a comment letter every two seconds, this wouldn’t seem like such monumental task.
“It’s tough, but goodness it’s tough for us too. We can’t keep getting all this advice. We always get conflicting advice. ‘You must have these done by June 2011, but don’t give them to us all at once’,” he said.
Tweedie “not terribly sympathetic” to concerns of standard-overload [Accountancy Age]
~ Update includes comment from IFAC President Robert Bunting of Moss Adams
Maybe! After all, anything’s possible. The Herz retirement wasn’t exactly expected but since Roberto had two years left in his terms but it’s been suggested that it’s been a rough two years since Barney Frank gave him the tongue lashing of his life over the whole mark-to-market thing.
Regardless, The Journal put it out there that the timing of Herz’s departure causes hella handwringing, most notably on the convergence efforts:
FASB will now have to replace Mr. Herz at the same time that the IASB is already cessor to its chairman, David Tweedie, whose terms expires in June 2011. This means that both bodies will have new heads as they enter what could prove to be the end game for the often-thorny process of converging two accounting standards.
This, of course, causes the U.S. GAAP Hawks to squeal with glee and those in pro-IFRS camp to get anxious and will likely lead to heavy lobbying for a replacement that will keep Tweeds dream alive for “one high quality set of global standards” or whatever they’re calling it these days.
Despite the Journal’s anxiety, International Federation of Accountants President Bob Bunting sees the change as an opportunity and things will continue to progress, “While the changes of leadership at the FASB and the IASB offer the opportunity for a fresh look at the convergence process, I would be surprised if any radical change in direction occurs,” Mr Bunting wrote in an email to GC, “The financial market forces and public interest arguments for convergence of the two standards, and possible eventual adoption of IFRS as a single standard continue to be very strong.”
However, since the FASB is expanding back to seven members, that will likely slow the process down (which makes some people happy) even further, especially with empty seats at the table:
The lack of a full board is likely to slow many of FASB’s projects, particularly the move to converge with international rules, said former FASB Chairman Dennis Beresford. “They’re not going to issue anything important on the basis of having only four board members,” he said, adding that Mr. Herz’s departure came as “a complete surprise.”
So, with those seeds of doubt planted, let’s put it to a vote.
I see that FASB is sticking to its schedule for ending most off-balance-sheet treatment for leases, and so is the IASB. It’s about time, frankly, if only to spare us poor, I mean, intrepid financial journalists from having to sort through the particulars of the current accounting treatment a moment longer than necessary.
I speak from personal experience here, having wrestled with the false distinction between capital and operating leases for a sidebar to a piece I wrote for CFO Magazine way back when. The article delved into the details of a particularly complex variation that companies were using to finance real estate, called synthetic leases.
I swear, that sidebar itself shaved a year off my life, and at my age, every one counts, and did even a decade or so ago.
In fact, the hoops that companies must jump though to get a deal to qualify as an operating lease still make my head spin. Consider: In order to qualify, the current rule, known as FAS 13, requires that the lease fail all of four tests aimed at distinguishing the financing from being the equivalent of ownership.
The thing that puzzled me about all this is that many, if not most, CFOs claimed that accounting treatment wasn’t the reason, or at least not the main one, that they used such financing techniques in the first place.
But the reason they gave often came down to their advantageous cost, and like all off-balance-sheet financing techniques, I could never quite understand how that lower cost arose without the accounting treatment.
After all, it seemed to me the only reason operating leases were less expensive than capital leases was that the underlying asset wasn’t counted as the property of the company by a sufficient number of investors willing to therefore pay a premium for the company’s equity. And if they did that, they were ignoring the fact that the asset was indeed the property of the company on anything other than a narrow, legal basis, and that the arrangement wasn’t financing its purchase.
So tell me again how off-balance-sheet financing results in lower cost if it doesn’t really do that.
Barclays in Sanctions Bust [WSJ]
“Barclays PLC agreed to pay $298 million to settle charges by U.S. and New York prosecutors that the U.K. bank altered financial records for more than a decade to hide hundreds of millions of dollars i nto the U.S. from Cuba, Libya, Iran and other sanctioned countries.
Monday’s settlement agreement of criminal charges is an embarrassment for Barclays, which became a major player on Wall Street by snapping up the collapsed U.S. operations of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 and has been trying to burnish the U.K. bank’s reputation on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as a good corporate citizen.”
Cashing in on cleantech [The Guardian]
“While E&Y claims to be the first to set up a practice specifically for cleantech, in recent years PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, KPMG and E&Y have all launched dedicated practices for sustainability and climate change.
Steven Lang, who leads the cleantech division in the UK and Ireland, recently explained the attraction to Business Green: ‘We’ve seen major amounts of capital flowing into clean energy and clean technology and governments increasingly want to use the sector as a driver for international competitiveness.
‘The drivers are there for this to be a major growth area over the next five years.’ ”
GM IPO filing expected Tuesday [Reuters]
It’s like you never left, GM. “General Motors Co has completed the paperwork for an initial public offering, and timing of its filing with the U.S. securities regulators rests with the board of the top U.S. automaker, sources familiar with the process said on Monday.
The initial prospectus, expected to be for $100 million, is likely to be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, two people said, asking not to be named because the preparations for the IPO are private.”
IASB details recruitment process for Tweedie replacement [Accountancy Age]
“In a newly created section of the IASB website, the body has outlined the process it has followed since September 2009, as it searches to replace chairman Sir David Tweedie, who steps down in June 2011.
Among the documents is a letter sent to the European Commissioner’s office on 3 December, 2009, from Sir Bryan Nicholson, who has led the IASB’s recruitment process.”
Woman due in court for pie attack on US Sen. Levin [CT]
“A woman accused of hitting U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in the face with an apple pie during the Armed Services Committee chairman’s constituent meeting in northern Michigan is due in court.
Twenty-two-year-old Ahlam M. Mohsen of Coldwater will be arraigned Tuesday. She is being held without bond after being arrested Monday on a felony charge of stalking, and misdemeanor counts of assault and disorderly conduct”
Facebook Partnership Is Proven by $3,000 Check, Lawyer Says [Bloomberg]
“The western New York man suing over claims he owns 84 percent of Facebook Inc. has a copy of a $3,000 cashier’s check his lawyer says is proof of a contract with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.
The purported 2003 check is made out to Zuckerberg and dated three days before Paul Ceglia claims the two men signed a contract, according to the attorney. That agreement, Ceglia said in court papers, entitles him to control of the world’s biggest social networking website.”
Conference To Debate Future Of Fannie, Freddie [NPR]
Euthanasia seems like a good option here.
Goldman CFO Viniar Gets $4.5 Million Options Windfall [Dow Jones]
“Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Chief Financial Officer David Viniar received $4.5 million by exercising more than 67,000 options as part of the investment bank’s disclosure Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to the filing, Viniar was among six top executives who have converted s ing stock options into a windfall of $24 million, cashing in on benefits they received years before the government’s 2008 rescue of the nation’s biggest financial firms.”
Tweedie faces greatest challenge in last days [FT]
“Sir David Tweedie says his staff are concerned about what he might do in his last months as head of the International Accounting Standards Board, the powerful global rule setter that he has chaired for a decade.
‘I think people are quite worried about how I might do in my last six months here, with all my vendettas and all these grudges I’ve been storing up . . . I think they are worried that I might let them go,’ he says with a laugh.”
Rulemakers Plan Global Overhaul of Lease Accounting [Reuters]
“U.S. and international accounting rule makers are planning to propose an overhaul of lease accounting as soon as Tuesday, in a move expected to affect some $1.2 trillion in leased assets.
Traditionally, accounting rules have given companies a lot of leeway in how they record leases for assets ranging from store locations and restaurant equipment to airplanes and machinery. As a result, only certain types of leases appear on the balance sheet, while a majority of a company’s leases can often be kept off the balance sheet and hidden from an investors’ view.
But the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets U.S. accounting rules, and the London-based International Accounting Standards Board, which writes accounting rules for more than 100 countries, will aim to change all that this week by proposing to bring many of these assets onto corporate balance sheets.
‘It’s something that needs to be done,’ said John Hepp, a partner in accounting firm Grant Thornton’s professional standards group. ‘Lease accounting is broken.’ ”
Hunt for IASB head hits hurdle [FT]
“The search for a successor to Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board, which sets accounting rules for most of the world outside the US, has hit difficulty in the face of opposition in Europe to how the process has been conducted.
Sir David has presided over deteriorating relations since the financial crisis, with some senior European officials raising concerns about the transparency of his decision-making amid criticism that he has prioritised an effort to get the US to adopt international rules at the expense of European interests.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers taps Kevin Kelly to head Birmingham office [Birmingham News]
Kevin Kelly is new the managing partner for PwC’s Birmingham office. He replaces David Pickett who is the new OMP in Nashville.
UCF accounting student killed [Central Florida Future]
“Orange County Sheriff’s officials have released the names of the two people who died Saturday in an apparent murder-suicide, after a woman was found dead in an apartment about five miles south of UCF, and a man was found dead at a local shooting range.
Jennifer Lynn Roqueta, an accounting major at UCF who had just turned 21 in May and a server at Buffalo Wild Wings in Waterford Lakes, was identified as the victim on Sunday.
The suspect, who was identified as Ryan Ray Scurlock, 24, was found at the Shooting Gallery gun range located at 2911 39th St. in Orlando.
The investigation stems from Saturday’s incident in which the OCSO received several calls from Scurlock’s acquaintances requesting they check on his well-being because they had received alarming text messages from him that indicated he was distraught.”
Former Fed official joins KPMG [WaPo]
Jon Greenlee is joining the Tyson’s Corner office as a managing director in KPMG’s financial services regulatory practice. He previously worked as an associate director of risk management in the Fed’s division of banking supervision and regulation.
Satyam auditors to face Sebi probe [Hindustan Times]
“Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will have to face an inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). The Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed PwC’s petition challenging Sebi’s show-cause notice dated June 30, 2009 seeking to prohibit PWC from auditing accounts of listed companies.”
That’s not a tax bill, THIS is a tax bill: Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan hit with £8m in charges [Daily Mail]
“But in a American TV interview last year, Hogan, 70, vowed that the taxman would not get a penny more of his money and added: ‘Come and get me, you miserable b******s.’ ”
Eide Bailly merges with R T Higgins [Denver Business Journal]
Top 25 firm Eide Bailly’s merger with RT Higgins brings the the firm’s total staff to over 1,200 in nine states.
Fair value is a simple enough concept even if you aren’t an accountant: stuff is worth what you could sell it for in the normal course of business, so that’s what you value it as when you’re adding up the value of the stuff you have. Easy, right? Not so easy when it comes to convergence.
The IASB has already expressed distaste for our fair value rules (among other things) and Accounting Onion recently shared some concerns that convergence might require a reasonable definition of “High Quality Accountant Standards” (abbreviated HQAS” by AO) agreed upon by both FASB and the IASB. So far I haven’t seen it, has anyone else?
Wait, AO launches off into it f han I ever could.
Moreover, if there are some doubts as to what HQAS is, the SEC’s view could have been attended to more closely at the outset of formal convergence efforts (October 2002); for surely the SEC had convergence in mind when they published their congressionally mandated (see the Sarbanes Oxley Act, Section 108(d)) report on the feasibility of “principles-based” accounting standards in August 2003. According to the SEC, the “objectives-oriented” standards they are looking for from a standard setter should possess the following qualities:
“Be based on an improved and consistently applied conceptual framework;
Clearly state the accounting objective of the standard;
Provide sufficient detail and structure so that the standard can be operationalized and applied on a consistent basis;
Minimize exceptions from the standard;
Avoid use of percentage tests (“bright-lines”) that allow financial engineers to achieve technical compliance with the standard while evading the intent of the standard.”
Now, seven years later, the SEC’s battle plans have been subordinated by the din and desperation of convergence wars. Are any new standards from either board “based on an improved and consistently applied conceptual framework”? Obviously not, for nary a single alteration to any conceptual framework document has occurred in the last seven years. The existing definitions for assets and liabilities are like wooden ships sent to battle against nuclear submarines.
A few weeks back, I talked to David Larsen, CPA, Managing Director of global advising firm Duff & Phelps, LLP about this fair value bullshit that complicates my life by requiring comment every few weeks. David participated on the SEC mark-to-market panel in November of 2008 and serves on FASB’s Valuation Resource Group so he’s familiar with what I’m talking about.
David believes public opinion dominates the fair value argument and really doesn’t see what the big deal is. “The goal is to make financial statements more readable,” he said of fair value’s ultimate intention. He’s a fan of transparency on the face of financial statements and more disclosures. Who doesn’t like that?
He says fair value is purely measurement and disclosure, nothing to get upset about.
In my opinion, fair value was our first test to see if we could handle the principles widely used in international accounting “standards” (hopefully “HQAS”) before we actually committed to adopting them and we failed. If you wonder why the IASB wants to hold the floor when it comes to convergence, you only have to stare our treatment of fair value right between the eyes.
It should have worked but our “P for Principles” in GAAP didn’t adequately prepare us to handle it.
IASB proposals aim to demystify insurance accounting [Accountancy Age]
“The international accounting standard setter has released new proposals for insurance contracts which seek to demystify one of the most complex areas of company reporting.
The rules, announced yesterday, aim to transform current rules, said to be all but indecipherable for investors, to a model which helps to communicate the contract economics.”
‘Static Kill’ Appears to Be Working in Well, BP Says [NYT]
“BP said Wednesday it had brought pressure under control in its stricken well in the r pumping heavy drilling mud into it, calling the development a “significant milestone” in its efforts to permanently seal the well.
The company began the effort, known as a static kill, on Tuesday afternoon and stopped pumping the heavy mud after about eight hours, saying that the procedure appeared to have reached the “desired outcome” of controlling pressure in the well.”
American Accounting Association and AICPA Create Pathways Commission to Study the Future of Accounting Higher Education [PR Newswire]
“The American Accounting Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants together have formed the Pathways Commission to study possible future paths of higher education for those seeking entry into the accounting profession.
‘Interest in accounting as a career is the highest it’s ever been and underscores the need to make sure the educational infrastructure remains solid and able to meet the profession’s evolving requirements,’ said Barry Melancon, CPA, AICPA president and CEO, who served on the Human Capital Subcommittee of the U.S. Treasury Advisory Committee on the Audit Profession.”
Catch of the day: ESPN sells fishing organization [Bloomberg]
Apparently a former Deloitte CEO – Jim Copeland – is involved in a group buying the BASS fishing organization.
From Playboy to Biglaw: New Orrick CFO Has A Bitchin’ Resume [ATL]
A former Playboy CFO recently joined Biglaw firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, presumably because access to a nice grotto is a must.
Getting Customers to ‘Check In’ With Foursquare [WSJ]
“Businesses of all sizes are trying the services out, looking to tap the networks’ ever-growing fan bases—Foursquare alone has 2.4 million users globally, and is growing 30% to 40% a month—and ability to harness enthusiasm for local establishments. For a small company with a limited marketing budget, the services are attractive because they’re free or cheap, require minimal time and effort, and appeal to loyal consumers who favor local businesses over big, cookie-cutter chains.”
Another Question about Timing of NBTY Insider Stock Purchases Prior to Announcement of Carlyle Acquisition [White Collar Fraud]
Sam Antar is still a little suspicious about the timing of the two NBTY directors that purchased stock right around the time that the Carlyle Group agreed to purchase NBTY stock. According to filings, NBTY executives met with Carlyle on May 11th and the two directors in question purchased their shares on May 13th and 18th. The next regularly scheduled board meeting was on May 21st.
Soooo, Sam wonders aloud, “At what point in time did Ashner and White know anything about the discussions with Carlyle and when did they find out about the confidentiality agreement? Often, such agreements are executed after the board has been notified. In this case, the confidentiality agreement was signed before Ashner and White purchased their NBTY shares.”
At Work, a Drug Dilemma [WSJ]
Even if you are legally able to purchase pot for medicinal purposes, your employer may still prefer you to pass on grass.
‘Big four’ auditors bring in independent directors in response to regulators [Guardian]
The Financial Reporting Counc CAEW, issued a new audit governance code back in January that recommended audit firms appoint non-executive directors to their UK firm however, Ernst & Young will go so far to appoint them to their global advisory boards.
“Although the code technically applies only to our UK business, as a globally integrated organisation, we believe it is most appropriate for us to implement the code’s provisions on a global basis also,” said Jim Turley, global chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young. “Including individuals from outside Ernst & Young on the global advisory council will bring to the senior leadership of our global organisation the benefit of significant outside perspectives and views.”
BP Won’t Issue New Equity to Cover Spill Costs [WSJ]
But if you want to pitch in, they are happy to take you up on an offer, “BP would welcome it if any existing shareholders or new investors want to expand their holding in the company, she said. BP’s shares have lost almost half their value since the Deepwater Horizon explosion that triggered the oil spill April 20.
BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward is visiting oil-rich Azerbaijan amid speculation the company may sell assets to help pay for the clean-up of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The one-day visit comes a week after Mr. Hayward, who has been criticized for his handling of the devastating oil spill, traveled to Moscow to reassure Russia that the British energy company is committed to investments there.”
Looking for a post-college job? Try accounting [CNN]
Happy times continue for accounting grads, according to the latest survey on the matter, this time from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The average salary listed for an entry-level accounting major is just over $50k and the article also notes that most accounting jobs go to…wait…accounting majors.
FASB, IASB Staff Describe Plans for New Financial Statements [Compliance Week]
As always, the two Boards are hoping that bright financial statement users will chime in with their suggestions but they’ve got the basic idea down, “The FASB and IASB are rewriting the manner in which financial information is presented to make it more cohesive, easier to comprehend, and more comparable across different entities. The proposals would establish a common structure for each of the financial statements with required sections, categories, subcategories and related subtotals. It would result in the display of related information in the same sections, categories and subcategories across all statements.”
Accounting rules “practically impossible to implement”, Barclays claims [Accountancy Age]
Barclays’ finance director, Chris Lucas isn’t too keen on these new loan valuation proposals. Besides the ‘practically impossible’ thing, he says, “The sensitivity disclosures…are highly subjective, difficult to interpret, and potentially misleading, particularly when the underlying data is itself highly subjective,” Lucas said.
“It is hard to see how sensitivity disclosures could be aggregated by a large institution to provide succinct data that avoids ‘boilerplate’ disclosure.”
Asking The Difficult Questions [Re: The Auditors]
“Audit committees too often rely on the auditors’ required disclosures without comment. They sometimes lack the independence, experience, or determination to ask the probing questions. It’s critical, however, that committees seek answers to vexing questions and not accept the response, ‘But that’s the way management has always done it.’ ”
Buffett Donates $1.6 Billion in Biggest Gift Since 2008 Crisis [Bloomberg]
WB continues his plan of giving away 99% of his fortune, “[Buffet] made his largest donation since the 2008 financial crisis after profits at his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. jumped.
The value of Buffett’s annual gift to the foundation established by Bill Gates rose 28 percent to $1.6 billion from $1.25 billion last year. The donation, made in Berkshire Class B stock, was accompanied by gifts totaling $328 million in shares to three charities run by Buffett’s children and another named for his late first wife, according to a July 2 filing.”
The case for cloud accounting [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett continues to provide evidence that switching to the cloud provides benefits that are simply too big to ignore, “This 2min 1 sec video neatly encapsulates why this is something you should be considering, especially if you are operating electronic CRM or e-commerce for front of house activities.”
“I am proud to say that so far my fellow board members and our staff, both FASB and IASB, have risen to the occasion. But I do fear potential burnout, as it’s not so easy to be running a marathon at sprint speed.”
~ Bob Herz, admitting that maybe these accounting wonks might be working too hard.
Volcker upbeat on “reasonable” reform bill [Reuters]
Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker took note of the FASB and IASB’s divergence on fair value and he’s not too thrilled about it, “[Volcker]…said that U.S. and international accounting standard setters must reach an agreement on how banks value the loans on their books.”
So from Big Paul’s POV, there is no option other than to get your shit together on this even though the two boards seem to be moving in the exact opposite direction. Oh, and could you do that ASAP? Reuters quoted him “What appeared to be two organizations converging … now looks like a collision. I hope they can come together by the end of the year.”
Is Internal Audit Irrelevant? [Norman Marks on Governance, Risk Management and Internal Audit]
The question about the relevancy of the Big 4’s audit business (at least for public companies) has been questioned but now the role of internal auditors is in question. Norman Marks cites a recent presentation at the IIA’s International Conference in Atlanta:
One of his points was that internal auditors have been humiliated – because nobody has held them to blame to any degree for the collapse of the banking sector, the failures in corporate governance and risk management, and the tremendous loss in value of investors’ shareholdings all over the world.
Richard pointed out that the Walker report (in the UK) on the causes of the banking crisis didn’t even mention internal audit. We are irrelevant.
Mr Marks takes exception with this, saying that internal auditors do deserve some blame and that if the NYSE and others get around to issuing some requirements around the function of internal audit, the recognition will come with it.
U.S. Faces ‘Severe’ AIG Losses, Says Panel [WSJ]
Even though the bailout of AIG probably prevented us from bartering over food in a barren wasteland with cars on fire everywhere, taxpayers ‘remain at risk for severe losses.’ A Congressional Oversight Panel also stated that the U.S. Government will continue to be a “significant shareholder through 2012.” The Beard is more optimistic however, saying “AIG, I believe, will repay.”
Earlier in the week we heard the devastating news that the FASB and IASB’s convergence efforts, despite a good hustle, would not meet the G20’s deadline of June 2011.
FASB Chairman Bob Herz indicated that this was a serious case of the Boards having bigger eyeshades than their double-entry stomachs could handle but he tried to squelch the disappointment by assuring everyone that the mission is not a failure and the Boards would “get most if not all of [the accounting standard proposals] done by the end of 2011.”
Roberto and IASB Chair Sir David Tweedie, feeling bad about how the whole thing turned out, decided to send a letter to the G20, presumably to keep them from getting their panties in knot:
It is expected that this action by the FASB and IASB will not negatively impact the Securities and Exchange Commission’s work plan, announced in February, to consider in 2011 whether and how to incorporate IFRS into the US financial system.
We appreciate the support of the G20 for the development of a single set of high quality global accounting standards. The two boards remain committed to achieving that objective. We shall continue to provide timely updates regarding our progress.
Ohhh, right. The SEC. What do they think about all this? Judging by Mary Schapiro’s attitude of “assuming completion of the convergence projects” as a precursor to IFRS, she’s totally cool with it, making her thoughts known in a statement yesterday:
The boards believe that the modified plan will contribute to increased quality in the standards because it provides additional time for stakeholders to thoroughly consider the proposals and give both boards quality feedback. I view this as time that is well invested.
Quality financial reporting standards established through an independent process are threshold criteria against which the Commission’s future consideration of the role of IFRS in the U.S. reporting system will be based. I foresee no reason that the adjustment to the targeted timeline for certain joint projects should impact the staff’s analyses under the Work Plan issued in February 2010, particularly when that adjustment is designed to enhance the quality of the standards. Indeed, focused efforts on those standards the boards consider highest priority for the improvement of U.S. GAAP and IFRS will facilitate the staff’s analyses.
Accordingly, I am confident that we continue to be on schedule for a Commission determination in 2011 about whether to incorporate IFRS into the financial reporting system for U.S. issuers.
In other words, no rush guys. Take it from Mary, this happens all the time.
AICPA Protests Disclosures of Uncertain Tax Positions [Web CPA]
The AICPA has come out against the IRS’ uncertain tax positions proposal, saying “it should withdraw its proposed rule that would require companies with more than $10 million in total assets to disclose uncertain tax positions on a new schedule.”
The AICPA is not so hot on the idea of the IRS wading into the financial reporting waters, “We understand that the UTP proposal does not change the underlying rules for financial reporting, but believe overlaying a tax disclosure construct on the financial reporting system introduces a dynamic which could work at cross purposes with the original and fundamental purpose of the financial reporting rules.”
Haitian recovery needs accountants [Accountancy Age]
Nearly five months after the Earthquake in Haiti things are recovering slowly. Financial records for the government and private business have had two considerably different experiences:
[T]he finance ministry’s financial controls and systems are now being restored after its headquarters were destroyed. The World Bank has helped this critical process, placing accounting experts with the ministry.
As for the private sector, Laforest said many companies’ financial systems had survived thanks to accounting software packages, whose data had been uploaded to cloud computing remote data sumps on the internet. But bills, receipts and other paper records vital for making tax returns had been lost where offices collapsed.
And creating proper controls around the donations process has been crucial for organizing those funds. According to one volunteer, “[W]ithout proper controls, the money that you and your friends and your government have given might as well be left in a big bucket in the middle of the market with a sign saying ‘biggest at the front, smallest at the back.’”
Pot could bring in $400K for D.C. [Post Now/WaPo]
The District’s Council is expected to vote on June 15th on a provision that would levy a 6% sales tax on ganj sold there. At an approximate price of $350 an ounce, each bag would yield $21 for DC and would be expected to raise $400k in the next 5 years.
Tweedie replacement must juggle dual roles [Accountancy Age]
The candidates for the IASB chair are dwindling but most people seem to agree that having the role split into “Chair” and “CEO” roles might benefit the Board. “Richard Sexton, head of audit at PwC, suggested the role should be split.” And BDO’s sometime blogger and International CEO Jeremy Newman chimes in, “It’s unrealistic to expect one person to cover both.”
Also, whoever fills the big chair can’t be a über double-entry geek or just a crafty political type to heavy one way or the other. Most think that it needs to be a balance of both, although the preference of which is more important is debatable, including one Deloitte partner’s point of view, “If you don’t understand the accounting, you won’t be able to do the diplomacy around the debate,” versus Grant Thornton, “At this stage in the IASB’s life, we would place political awareness ahead of technical [knowledge] for the chair, but of course the chair must be technically astute.”
Yes, that’s your shocking headline of the day. Despite the retripling of efforts via videoconferencing and other fancy-schmancy technology, some Frenchman losing patience, and having a Knight spearheading 50% of the efforts, they will utlimately fall short of the June ’11 goal.
The Norwalk, Connecticut-based FASB and the London-based International Accounting Standards Board expect to announce changes to their convergence work plan in the next week or so that would delay the completion date by about six months and allow for greater public comment on the boards’ proposals, FASB Chairman Robert Herz said in an interview with Reuters.
“We’ve been working on a revised work plan with the IASB,” Herz said.
“We’d all like to see the work done as expeditiously as possible, but we don’t want to sacrifice proper due process.”
Herz said that to issue final standards by June 2011, the boards would have to release about 10 proposals in the next two months and rush through the public comment process.
It was nice of the FASB and IASB to say, “June? No problemo,” to the G20 BSDs but many organizations, including Financial Executives International, and even Chief Accountant Kroeker said that the overachieving might lead to some shoddy accounting standards.
Mr Herz is still optimistic about finishing up before 2012 telling Reuters that the two Boards will “get most if not all of [the accounting standard proposals] done by the end of 2011,” which is probably enough time for IFRS to be adopted by everyone. But then the world is on a strict deadline to end in 2012, so why are we bothering with this again?
What’s stopping CFOs putting their money on cloud computing? [Silicon.com]
Some CFOs are still hesitant to jump into cloud computing for three main reasons: 1) They aren’t sure what they’re getting for their money 2) Security and information assurance 3) The cost of migrating their data.
All legitimate concerns, however steps can be taken and questions asked in order to address most concerns (or at least put CFOs in a better informed position than before):
1) “Ask providers to clarify how they intend to deliver your service so that you understand the risks involved and know exactly what you are getting for your money.”
2) “Undertake due diligence and ensure that cloud providers can replicate the appropriate security policies and procedures. Agree realistic [Service Level Agreements] and make certain that services are scalable enough to meet present and future requirements. Finally, ensure that everything is clearly written down in the contract.”
3) “Evaluate how much time, effort and money will be required to migrate data and rework business processes.”
IASB unveils profit and loss proposals [Accountancy Age]
It appears that Tweeds and Co. like the U.S. GAAP method of presenting Other Comprehensive Income: “If adopted, these proposals will result in further convergence of IFRSs and US GAAP in an increasingly important part of the financial statements.”
Buffett to Testify to Crisis Panel on Moody’s [WSJ]
This will be a breeze – folksy insights with a dash of sexual metaphors will clear up this area of the crisis. Plus, no one is going to scold an old man.
H & H bagel big cops to $369,000 tax fraud [NYP]
Helmer Toro simply kept the money. He’ll spend 50 weekends in jail for that little stunt.
Brian T. Croteau Named Deputy Chief Accountant for Professional Practice in SEC Office of the Chief Accountant [SEC]
Prior to the new gig, Mr Croteau was a Senior Associate Chief Accountant at the OCA. He joined the OCA after being a partner in the Assurance practice at PwC in the Auditing Services Group. He obviously wasn’t bothered by the Partner to Senior Associate title change. It must have been the “Chief Accountant” suffix.
Some of you might think that Sir David Tweedie is trying evangelize IFRS all over this great U.S. GAAP land because A) he’s a wily Scotsman who isn’t afraid to wear a kilt to the office and sure as hell isn’t going to let a bunch of know-nothings tell him what’s best and B) he’s trying to throw his title.
Or maybe you just think he doesn’t care if the US of A is down with the financial reporting Kumbaya. Well Tweeds is Stateside putting everyone on notice that if that’s what you believe, you would be wrong. DEAD WRONG.
“The world is moving to a single set of high-quality global accounting standards, and this is too important an area for the U.S. not to be involved…After almost a decade of work to improve IFRS and U.S. GAAP and to seek their convergence, it’s time to finish the job.”
That’s the best he can do. And don’t bother asking him for the title, he can’t give it to you.
Crisis Probes Fail to Meet High Bar [WSJ]
Late on Friday, former AIG executive Joseph Cassano learned that he wouldn’t face criminal charges for his actions as the head of the company’s Financial Products division. According to the Journal, prosecutors did come close to filing criminal charges against Cassano and others but it was felt that the high burden of proof that “there was criminal intent behind executives’ decisions and that they intentionally misled investors” could not be met.
The government isn’t quite finished with Cassano, as he still may face civil charges from the SEC, which has a lower standard of proof.
The SEC’s Mary Schapiro on the Myths of GAAP/IFRS Convergence: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much [Re:Balance]
Jim Peterson took a closer look at Mary Schaprio’s speech at the annual conference of Chartered Financial Analysts where she mentioned IFRS but also convergence efforts between the IASB and the FASB. The SEC has maintained that convergence should be the initial goal for reporting standards.
Jim is concerned that the gap between the ultimate goal of convergence and the reality of some of the key issues at stake are no small feat:
There is, indeed, no more eloquent concession of the “convergence gap” than Schapiro’s own admission that “US GAAP and IFRS are currently not converged in a number of key areas,” including “the accounting for financial assets (the very types of securities at the center of the financial crisis), revenue recognition, consolidation principles, and leases.”
Any other problems, Madame Chairman? These on her list are so comprehensively grave that they will keep the international standards standoff alive until the end of time.
Which would put IFRS on a even longer track to adoption.
IRS audits of schools might delve into salaries of coaches [USAToday]
The IRS’ interest in the determination of the highest paid employees for colleges and universities has a few people worried. Not necessarily because anything is wrong but because the IRS is just a scary beast, “John D. Colombo, a University of Illinois law professor who has written about tax exemption and college athletics, says he doesn’t think the IRS action will fundamentally alter college athletics business. But he adds, ‘Audits are never comfortable. Just the IRS being there asking questions makes people nervous.'”
Primarily, the IRS is concerned over the business activities that higher education institutions engage in that aren’t “related to the schools’ primary purpose.” The interest in athletic coaches’ salaries is such that these individuals are often some of the highest paid employees of the school. The IRS is interested in how colleges and universities justify these salaries and to ensure that corporate sponsorships (not considered to be a business activity) are complying with certain rules so they are not considered advertising revenue.
FEI Implores FASB, IASB to Slow Down [Compliance Week]
Financial Executives International is concerned that the FASB and IASB have gotten a little too ambitious in their convergence efforts and has written a letter to the Boards’ respective Chairmen that basically says, “Easy, tiger.”
Everyone knows that those knowitalls at the G-20 were insisting the accounting rule mavens to make convergence happen by next summer but FEI is trying to take pragmatic approach to this:
Arnold Hanish, chairman of FEI’s Committee on Corporate Reporting, said in his letter to the two boards the group is concerned about the “unprecedented volume as well as the complexity of proposed standards” that the two boards are developing. The committee fears the vast scope and aggressive timeline for the proposals will not allow adequate analysis of how the rules will work, which will lead to implementation problems and amendments further down the line.
In other words, this isn’t quantum mechanics, but it’s not Fisher Price either. Mr Hanish did his best to remind Bob Herz and Sir David Tweedie just how overambitious this little project is:
Our member companies are extremely concerned with the 10+ Exposure Drafts (EDs) that are in final stages and will be released for public comment through the third quarter of 2010. During any single period in time in its 38-year history, the FASB has had no more than 3 or 4 significant EDs out for public comment.
FEI doesn’t seem convinced that this unprecedented overachieving by Herz and Tweeds is going to result in the “one set of high quality standards.” They would prefer that hte Boards get this right the first time so they don’t have to slap the proverbial duct tape all over the efforts later.
Cabbies, Accountants Look to Chip-Fat Fuel on Cost, Environment [Bloomberg]
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ London office is trying to do its best for the environment by using local chip-fat converted into biodiesel to supplement its energy needs:
PwC is seeking local sources for 45,000 liters of biodiesel to meet one quarter of its monthly office fuel needs, said Jon Barnes, head of building and facilities services at the firm.
“I’m trying to locally source used chip fat from restaurants,” he said. “It’s a pretty pointless exercise of using biofuel if it’s been all round the world on a ship.”
Sounds like a bang-up idea but P. Dubs is always looking for an angle, “Having a renewable source for some of PwC’s office’s energy needs could help the company sell its services to clients wanting to do the same.”
House Holds Hearing Today on Tax and Internet Gambling [TaxProf Blog]
The House Ways & Means Committee is holding a hearing today to kick around the possibility of legalizing Internet gambling here in the US of A (and taxing it, of course). It kicks off at 9:30 am ET and with any luck, you’ll be legally losing your mortgage payments for the 2010 football season.
IASB member Phillippe Danjou would be happy to see convergence go well and according to schedule but like most of Europe, he’s concerned that what’s good for America may not be good for the rest of the world.
Earlier in the week, the European Central Bank said nearly the same thing, going so far as to call out FASB for its archaic fair value rules that disregard liquidity (or lack thereof) in markets.
“Can we converge on everything? What’s good for America is not always seen as being good for the rest of the world, and vice versa… Convergence is the aim. It is a very desirable goal, but you cannot force it.
“If our stakeholders say we should take slightly different solutions, we will have to accept that,” he said. “If we can’t reach a solution, we can bridge.”
This brings us right back to the question of the IASB’s independence and the announcement by the SEC that funding the IASB would be a priority moving forward. Maybe that’s the bridge to which Danjou was referring; America buying its own piece of international accounting standard influence. 20% won’t cut it, people, where did the SEC get those bribe numbers from anyway?
The SEC is interested in securing capital markets and protecting the interests of investors by putting a new level of priority on accounting standards setters… European accounting standards setters, that is.
SEC Chief Accountant James “P is For Principles” Kroeker announced today that the SEC’s new project will revolve around securing funding for the gatekeepers of IFRS, the IASB. “A stable broad based funding system with a diversity of capital market participants providing ‘no strings attached’ funding is of great importance to establishing a structurally sound international standards setter,” he said at a Baruch College accounting conference. Earlier in the week, JP was defending GAAP and calling the planned June 2011 adoption of IFRS in the US an “arbitrary” target but this leads us to believe that he’s since changed his mind and would like to see this convergence thing get rolling once and for all.
About 20 percent of the IASB’s funding is expected to come from US sources this year – the largest chunk of funding from any single source.
While Kroeker was busy cheerleading the IASB telethon this week, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro was off doing a little fundraising of her own, except hers failed miserably when the Senate rejected a request by Schapiro and several former SEC leaders to self-fund the agency. As everyone knows, the SEC has been plagued recently with accusations of regulatory laziness, not to mention problems with employees sitting around watching porn all day when they should be guarding capital markets. No increase in allowance for you, Mary!
Anyway, the main concern is – as always – independence. Without secure funding, the IASB is exposed to excessive political pressure and if you recall the fair value debate, you have already seen what happens when standards setters cave in. With secure funding, the IASB can be bought and sold as easily as some companies A/Rs so it makes sense that Kroeker would shift the SEC’s focus from begging Congress for a raise to funneling in cash to the IASB. You know, for convergence’s sake.
European Central Bank Executive Board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerel insists that fair value is useless in illiquid (read: dysfunctional or non-existent) markets, putting forth the all-important query “what is the use of marking-to-market when there is no market?” in a Paris speech yesterday.
Tumpel-Gugerel is also a tad concerned that the push for convergence around the globe by 2011 could mean compromised accounting standards. “The ECB strongly opposes a full fair value approach,” she said. “In this context, convergence should not come at the expense of high-quality accounting standards.”
The ECB has taken the financial crisis as a lesson in valuation, guidance, and a deft accounting system that leaves plenty of slack available for adjustments should the need arise in, say, a crisis situation. That’s all well and good but guidance only gets you so far and without a firm commitment to when and how to use fair value around the globe, we can pretty much keep debating this point indefinitely.
Her views on FASB’s fair value approach are not at all subtle. In short, it appears as though the ECB supports convergence but only if the idiotic American ways are better aligned with the IASB’s. “With regard to recent assertions made by the IASB and FASB that convergence is on track, I would like to highlight that we are not so optimistic,” she said. “In this regard, putting in place a reconciliation mechanism that simply discloses figures at amortised cost and fair value for each item on the balance sheet would certainly not achieve the aim of convergence.”
Well snap, guess she told us.
Deloitte’s Paul Pacter Appointed to IASB [Web CPA]
Paul “Financial Reporting Encyclopedia” Pacter will resign his part-time position at Deloitte to take a seat on the IASB. Since 2000, he has been on Deloitte’s IFRS leadership team and has worked as the Director for small and medium sized entities for the IASB.
Sir David Tweedie said in a statement that “Paul is a walking encyclopedia on global financial reporting. He served as the determined leader of the development of the IFRS for SMEs, is an expert in both IFRS and U.S. GAAP, and in his spare time has run one of the most popular financial reporting Web sites on the Internet. He will bring a global perspective and immense energy to the board.”
Nearly $60 million accounting error means state budget cut [Charleston Business Journal]
Relative to other states that shall remain nameless, South Carolina’s problems aren’t really a BFD but somehow $60 million being “erroneously…counted as part of the state’s general fund,” as opposed to being earmarked for specific appropriations is still not good.
As a result of this little booboo, $60 million in budget cuts must be found with less than three months until the end of the state’s fiscal year. Such a short time frame could presumably lead to some desperate slash and burn methods. And here we thought the subversive organization legislation would have been a huge revenue stream for the Palmetto State.
Is There a Pulse in the CFO Market? [CFO]
Apparently the CFO job market is no longer ‘totally dead’ as it was from December 2008 to October 2009 and since some are feeling ‘overworked and under appreciated’ (just like you!) there promises to be a bit of a CFO exodus.
Bank of America Names an Outsider as CFO [WSJ]
Charles Noski will be the new Bank of America CFO, effective May 11th. He most recently was the CFO at Northrup Grumman, which he left in 2005 and prior to that held the same position at AT&T. He has also served as a advisor to Blackstone Group and is currently a director at Morgan Stanley and Microsoft. It is reported that he will give up his director seat at competitor Morgan Stanley. Noski began his career at Haskins & Sells (now Deloitte) for seventeen years and was a partner.
This ends BofA’s quest to land a CFO after former finance bigwig Joe Price moved into a new role under new CEO Brain Moynihan back in January.
IASB says “no guarantee” of full US accounting convergence [Accountancy Age]
The FASB and IASB, try as they might, have announced that they simply cannot guarantee that they will pull off 100% unadulterated convergence. The two boards have struggled to get their cerebral minds together on a number of “important technical issues” and are holding out for the possibility that they may not resolve any of their remaining differences.
The two boards issued a statement which warned, “Although our recent experiences with joint meetings show that we have been able to resolve differences on several projects, there is no guarantee we will be able to resolve all, or any, of our differences on this project.” The two cite “different imperatives that pushed our development timetables out of alignment,” in the struggle for converging the two sets of rules. While the FASB and IASB are warning that accounting rule convergence may be impossible, the statement indicates that the two still aim to finalize their work by the mid-2011 deadline.
Medical pot users to pay sales tax [Bangor Daily News via Tax Policy Blog]
The Pine Tree State will taxing its medical green that is sold at state-sanctioned dispensaries. The Maine Revenue Service had argued that since marijuana is currently issued for medicinal purposes, that the it should be treated as a prescription drug and thus, not taxed. However, since a prescription isn’t necessary to obtain medical marijuana, Maine lawmakers disagreed and ultimately decided to administer a levy on the sale of state-issued grass.
• Japan embraces new fair value rule [Financial Times via Accountancy Age]
Here’s a novel idea: making a decision on IFRS! Japan’s Financial Services Agency will be allowing companies to adopt the international version of the new fair value rule developed by the IASB, starting Wednesday. Since the world’s second largest economy is opting to pull the trigger on IFRS it may throw the G20’s request/demand for the world to get all kumbaya when it comes to accounting rules.
“Fair value accounting…as unleashed one of the most divisive debates to have emerged from the credit crisis, threatening to disrupt a pledge by the G20 group of leading economies to create a single, global accounting system by mid next year,” reports the FT and judging by the SEC’s indecisiveness, they may be right. With this latest development, now leaders will be able to blame each other’s securities agencies for their particular actions that will likely lead to divergence.
The allowance of Japanese companies to adopt IFRS 9 could also give Knight of the Accounting Roundtable, Sir David Tweedie, even more leverage when dealing with countries around the world to adopt the IFRS.
Right or wrong, the Japanese are sending a signal that they are prepared to move forward while the SEC prepares to have more meetings.
• GAO Criticizes PCAOB Approach to Audit Risk [Web CPA]
The General Accountability Office, never shy to point out the faults of others (that’s kind of what they do, after all), isn’t so keen on the PCAOB’s latest “risk assessment” audit standards. This after the PCAOB originally proposed standards in 2008 and then revised and re-released them late last year.
The GAO feels that the ‘duplication and inconsistencies’ created by the PCAOB’s new standards would likely lead to…more billable hours! So, as you might imagine, some firms are on board:
PricewaterhouseCoopers told the PCAOB, “We fully support the board’s objective to update interim standards regarding risk assessment,”
And some, not so much:
McGladrey & Pullen…warned that “unnecessary differences between the board’s standards and those of other standard-setters increase the costs of performing all audits because firms must develop and maintain two, and even three, audit methodologies and training programs, with no corresponding benefit to audit quality.”
Personally, we’re skeptical of anything that has the unmitigated support of the biggest players in the industry but from a more practical standpoint, do auditors really need more rules to follow? And now this could add to the workload? Is that really necessary?
• Oscar Swag Bags to Result in $91k Income to Celebrity Presenters [TaxProf Blog]
Celebrities have enough tax trouble the way it is, how is giving them gifts going to make their tax returns easier? We’re guessing most of them have smart CPAs working for them that will suggest that they give it all to charity but we may be underestimating the temptation of free luxury swag.
God forbid I go so far as to say this whole convergence thing is a conspiracy but it’s starting to reek like a bad Saturday morning cartoon plot. First the evil leaders start scamming for world domination, then they form shady alliances in darkened lairs and eventually the population gets sold into slavery until the hero comes and drops the villains in a vat of acid. Or something like that. If global financial “reform” were a Saturday morning cartoon, we’d be horribly overrun with villains and in desperate need of a hero.
Since it’s real life, all we can do is watch.
A spokesman for IASB said the two boards are expected to issue their first joint quarterly progress report very soon. A spokesman for FASB said the various project updates posted by the two boards demonstrates “quite a bit of progress” in recent months.
“We remain committed to working with IASB,” said spokesman Chris Klimek. “(We) appreciate the SEC’s leadership and additional guidance on this important matter, and like everyone, we will be studying the work plan carefully in the days ahead and discussing what it means for us.”
It’s cool! There’s a plan for convergence and here it goes: the SEC waits around for the FASB and IASB to figure out how to convert GAAP statement to IFRS without costing American companies billions ($35 million/year x companies converting = well you get it). Eventually, they might just figure this out. In the meantime, kick back and don’t get too worked up over it, the two bodies are still battling it out because of the same cultural barriers that have always stood in the way of a true marriage of FASB/IASB positions.
As Number Insights pointed out in 2007 (see how long we’ve been trying to do this? And what do we have to show for it?), a single set of principles might not be the bad part of this entire plan. GAAP is notoriously constrictive but principles-based accounting requires qualified accountants and I’m not sure our accountants are quite ready either, ignoring the costs associated. And a world without FASB? I can’t imagine it.
It doesn’t look like I’ll have to any time soon.
AS PREDICTED. And It was unanimous. Sure, it wasn’t the boldest call we’ve ever made here at GC but we thought it was worth pointing out that the SEC really didn’t have much of a choice.
The good news is that the Commission doesn’t need to sweat this for now. They’re just letting everyone know that they’re tepidly re-re-committing to International Financial Reporting Standards but ONLY if the IASB and FASB can pull off meaningful convergence and the IASB stops being a bunch of lily-livered bean counters and tells the pols to BTFO.
Web CPA reports, “In the commission’s vote Wednesday, the SEC reiterated its cautious support for IFRS, contingent upon reaching a number of milestones, including convergence of U.S. GAAP with IFRS and improved governance of the International Accounting Standards Board.”
And even if that happens, the SEC staff has to check everything out so that everyone knows exactly what will result from the U.S. adopting IFRS (probably the rapture). Once that’s settled then we can talk about how this will get done.
Mary Schapiro’s words:
“In 2011, upon conclusion of the fact-gathering and analysis set forth in the work plan – and assuming completion of the convergence projects – the commission will then be in a position to determine whether to incorporate IFRS into the financial reporting system for U.S. public companies. Until that time, we will expect staff to provide periodic written public reports to the commission on the progress of its efforts.”
Back to work everybody. There are future meetings to be planned.
• IASB softens stance on convergence [FT]
We’re not jumping to any conclusions but yesterday the IASB made the statement that it “would no longer pursue convergence with its US peer as ‘an objective in itself'”. Now we’re not entirely sure what “an objective in itself” means but it kinda, sorta sounds like “to hell with you FASB, we’ve got our own plans.”
This revelation was part of “constitution review” in order for the IASB “to justify its public accountability” to its critics. In this review the IASB seemed to be changing its tone on just what convergence is:
In a review of its constitution published on Monday the IASB’s oversight board addressed this concern over the convergence project and said it would “emphasise that convergence is a strategy aimed at promoting and facilitating the adoption of IFRS, but it is not an objective by itself”.
So just spreading the good word about IFRS without any stated objective? Does that sound about right? It sounds a little like financial reporting evangelism.
• Wake graduates get highest passing rates on CPA exam [Winston Salem-Journal]
This is in no way presented to make you feel bad about yourself. Here are the 2008 (the most recent data available) passing rates at WF: 93% on FAR; 87.5% on Audit; 83.22% on regulation; 93.7% on BEC. The overall passing rate was 89.7%. The University has had the highest scores five years running.
If you need to go cry in the bathroom, you may do so now.
• Rams buyer’s $85 million battle with IRS [Chicago Tribune]
Shahid Khan announced last week that he was buying 60% of the St. Louis Rams. Great news right? Ordinarily, yes but now the NFL is looking into his association with a BDO tax partner that was convicted of helping clients avoid taxes through shelters.
The IRS said in court papers that the Khans hired the Chicago-based BDO Seidman accounting firm and met with tax partner Robert Greisman. The Khans engaged in at least five questionable tax shelters, with names like Son-of-Boss and Dad, and paid BDO $8.5 million in fees, about 10 percent of the alleged tax savings, according to court documents.
Yet when the revenue agency questioned Khan about his returns, he was unable to identify what services BDO provided, an IRS agent said in court documents. In April 2007, the IRS made formal requests for information to Greisman and one of his partners in Michigan in connection with its investigation of the Khans.
Greisman pleaded guilty last July to conspiracy charges related to the creation of the shelters and BDO is currently being sued by Khan for negligence and malpractice. The NFL may have saved them themselves the trouble by letting Rush Limbaugh own part of the team…
Every knight lays down his sword at some point and Tweeds is no exception. The IASB Chairman will hang up his 10-key when his current term ends in June 2011.
According to Emily Chasan at Reuters, DT thought about calling it quits last year after the pols torpedoed mark-to-market in the name of bank lobbyists. Sensing that the true Holy Grail was within reach, Tweedie stayed on:
[H]e has said he stayed because he wanted to continue the convergence process, which is beginning to reach its goal of having a single set of high quality accounting standards used around the globe. The U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board and the IASB have redoubled efforts to complete their major convergence projects by a June 2011 deadline set by the G20 group of leading countries.
Now the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation, which oversees the board, is on the search for the next bean counter in shining armor. Since Tweeds gave plenty of notice, it won’t likely be the shitshow search like Bank of America has on its hands (until very recently perhaps) but the IASCF is searching all the corners of the world for the replacement and they need to come up with somebody good.
If they put some empty suit in there, the likes of Silvio Berlusconi will be writing the revised contingent liabilities standard. Lord knows we don’t need that. We need someone that doesn’t mind telling pols to BTFO of accounting biznass. Pols like Eddy “If you had just involved us in the monitoring of the IASB we wouldn’t be in this mess” Wymeersch, who probably couldn’t tell the difference between his ass and the basic accounting equation. Feel me, IASCF?
Now since that’s clear, if you’ve got any suggestions or purely want to speculate on who you will be in the big chair next (Tim Flynn? Mary Schapiro? Phil Mickelson? that smug guy in the cube next to you that got a 98 on FARE?) drop them in the comments.
IASB’s Tweedie to retire when term ends in 2011 [Emily Chasan/Reuters]
Trustees seek nominations for Chairman of the IASB from 2011 [Press Release]
See also: Kroeker Stresses Importance of Investors in IFRS Decision; Search Is On For Next Chairman Of IASB When Tweedie Retires in 2011 [FEI Financial Reporting Blog]
Does there happen to be a law in the EU that says that if you’re not a knight you have to keep your piehole shut when it comes to accounting rules? Because if there isn’t, there needs to be. We may give Sir David Tweedie a hard time here (mostly because we’re jealous of the prefix) but we hardly think that he needs pressure from anyone on double-entry accounting.
Despite the knighted one keeping his promises, Eddy Wymeersch, chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR) has made it known that the IASB isn’t floating his boat and he would like to go back to the bureaucratic drawing board.
Wymeersch questioned whether there was adequate accountability at the IASB, a London-based body that has already made several changes to its governance, such as setting up a new monitoring group.
“I can remind you the CESR thought it should be in the monitoring group but that did not take place. In my view, this has to be drawn up again and start from scratch,” he said.
Please, non-knight Eddy Wymeersch, remind us that you suggested that you should be allowed to stick your beak into the IASB’s business. We have trouble remembering that politicians all across the blue marble so desperately want to be involved in the oversight of accounting rules.
EU regulator calls for accounting overhaul [Reuters]
Editor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.
Of the 111 comment letters FASB published on Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures: “Improving Disclosures about Fair Value Measurements”, this one was my favorite:
Please don’t require Companies not SEC registered to spend any more money on reports under this rule.
The usual suspects left the usual complaints; BDO said excessive disclosures would be both costly and useless, Uncle Ernie implied it was an interesting concept but an expensive flop in practical application, and PwC prefers once a year disclosures instead of quarterly.
Verizon even got in on the action, insisting, “proposed additional extended sensitivity disclosures would unnecessarily complicate financial statement disclosures without providing any meaningful benefit to financial statement users.”
I think it is entirely reasonable to point out that FASB is feeling the pressure to converge and the IASB is encouraging slightly less optimistic financial statements. The IASB openly admits that it is under outside pressure to adopt such a stance:
Responding to requests by the G20 leaders and others, in June 2009 the IASB published a Request for Information on the practicalities of moving to an expected loss model. The responses have been taken into account by the IASB in developing the exposure draft.
The IASB continues:
The IASB will also cooperate closely with the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) with a view to agreeing a common approach to the impairment of financial assets.
Since when is this for the IASB to decide?
Political influences are nothing new to accounting rulemakers but what happens when those influences come from foreign bodies far outside of our control? It is a known fact that the European Union has a large stake in IASB, so how can we be sure their intentions are pure as we move forward at their urging?
The Financial Crisis Advisory Group, an international body set up by the IASB and FASB to advise them on standard-setting issues related to the financial crisis, warned recently that that political pressure on accounting standard-setters posed a threat to “the very existence of international accounting standards.”
Integrity in financial statements? Keep looking, not going to find any of that here.
Sir David Tweedie and his fellow non-knighted wonks have released IFRS 9, Financial Instruments today to much anticipation. For those companies that were chomping at the bit, you can adopt pronto but nothing is mandatory until the end of 2012.
You got to hand it to Tweeds. The BSD at the G20 demanded that the IASB take another look (read: change) at this fair value thing ASAP and he delivered, AS PROMISED:
We have delivered on our commitment to the G20 and stakeholders internationally to provide an improved financial instrument standard for the classification and measurement of financial assets for use in 2009. Benefiting from unprecedented levels of consultation with stakeholders around the world, the IASB has made significant changes in its initial proposals to improve the standard, provide enhanced transparency and respond to stakeholder concerns.
Very impressive, so the ball is your court, Norwalk. You better get off your asses and come up with something good because none of you have knighthood and we haven’t seen much evidence of your re-quadrupled efforts. We already know that you’re talking Plan B but give us something, anything. You’re worried about Congress, sure but the Europeans are making you look bad. Is there any American knight-ish equivalent that Bob Herz could get that would help give him a boost in confidence?
If you’ve got suggestions, leave them in the comments. We’re at a total loss.
IASB completes first phase of financial instruments accounting reform [IASB Press Release]
New fair value standard rushed out by IASB [Accountancy Age]