Harmonization of GAAP and IFRS

Two committees of the American Accounting Association have produced detailed reports evaluating the SEC’s proposal to accept financial statements prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) from foreign-private issuers without reconciliation to U.S. GAAP (the SEC subsequently voted in favor of the proposal on November 15, 2007). This proposal was also discussed by Carl Olson in his November 28 post. These two papers highlight the difficult nature of this issue. Despite the common background of the members of each group and the common academic research utilized in preparing each proposal, the recommendations of the two committees are distinctly different.

The Financial Accounting Standards Committee report (available here) argues that since there is no conclusive research evidence that financial reports prepared using U.S. GAAP are better than reports prepared using IFRS, the prudent approach is to promote competition among them. This finding supports adopting the SEC’s proposal to permit foreign private issuers a choice between IFRS and U.S. GAAP.

The Financial Reporting Policy Committee report (available here) concludes that the proposed elimination of the GAAP reconciliation requirement is premature. This conclusion is based on research that finds that material reconciling items exist that are relevant to U.S. investors, that there are differences in the implementation of uniform standards and that compliance to IFRS or U.S. GAAP by foreign firms is a concern, that foreign firms benefit from greater access to capital by listing in the U.S., that U.S. investors tend to prefer U.S. GAAP, and that U.S. GAAP – IFRS harmonization might improve the functioning of the U.S. capital markets.

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

One Comment

  1. Carl Olson
    Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    For your consideration in the two different committees of the American Accounting Association, you may be interested that the FAS Committee which endorsed allowing foreign firms with publicly-traded stock to use IFRS instead of GAAP was headed by Robert Colson of CPA firm Grant Thornton. The firm endorsed this view, as did the Big Four.