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March 24, 2009

Cherry wraps up 8 years at Canadian standard setter

Paul Cherry completes eight years as chair of the Canadian Accounting Standards Board this month (AcSB), moving from the national to international scene as the new chair of the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) Standards Advisory Council (SAC).

The SAC comprises representatives of a range of organisations from around the world. It advises the IASB on issues including its agenda and work programmes. The council also provides advice on individual projects, with a particular emphasis on practical application and implementation issues.

Cherry told The Accountant the IASB and US Financial Accounting Standards Board’s convergence plan and the role of fair value measurement for financial instruments are two projects that will receive particular attention in the coming year. The SAC will begin to address them in June.

Another item topping the agenda is issues surrounding the current credit environment.

“There is a tendency to look at the immediate problem, which is fair enough, but you also need to think beyond this – project out a few years to try to get ahead of the curve,” Cherry said.

Cherry’s new responsibilities include actively monitoring the progress of the IASB’s work programme, projects and priorities, and working closely with the IASB chair and senior staff to identify when the council’s advice is required.

In effect, he will be the primary liaison between the SAC, the IASB and the IASB’s oversight board, the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation.

“My primary function is to make the group effective, to have meetings that have sensible agendas addressing relevant issues,” Cherry said. “We are not meant to second guess the [IASB] on technical issues; rather, our job is to advise on the work programme, strategies and priorities. Are there topics that need to be given higher priority? Are some issues taking too much time and energy to the detriment of more important things? This is where a group like us can make a major contribution.”

Cherry said the role of SAC chair is his dream job and his appointment is a “huge compliment for Canada”.

“It is absolutely ideal for allowing us to be a major part of the international standard-setting scene while Canada transitions to IFRS in 2011,” he said.

He is also “delighted” with the evolution of his work from the national to the international level.

IASB chair Sir David Tweedie has also welcomed the appointment, which was effective at the beginning of the year.

“Paul is one of the most respected figures in international standard setting,” Tweedie said.

Cherry’s career has spanned professional services firms, regulators and standard-setting. Before heading the AcSB, he was a senior technical partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Toronto and chaired the AcSB’s Emerging Issues Committee.

He also previously served two terms on the board of the IASB’s predecessor, the International Accounting Standards Committee, and chaired its interpretative body, the Standing Interpretations Committee.

Cherry was also chief accountant of the Ontario Securities Commission for two years and chaired the International Organisation of Securities Commission’s Working Party on International Accounting and Auditing Standards.

Gundi Jeffrey

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