The US Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) final staff report on the work plan towards global accounting
standards calls for the International Accounting Standards Board
(IASB) to better incorporate and understand the intricacies of a
number of distinct domestic reporting and regulatory systems.

The long awaited report does not give any
opinion on whether or not IFRS should be adopted in the US and only
examines arguments for and against different forms of adoption.

The final report noted there “appears to be
relatively less support within the US financial reporting
community” for the IASB to set US domestic reporting standards.

“However, the staff found there to be
substantial support for exploring other methods of incorporating
IFRS that demonstrate the US commitment to the objective of a
single set of high-quality, globally accepted accounting standards
while addressing some of the aforementioned concerns,” the report

Last week an SEC spokesperson
told The Accountant the final staff report is
expected to be used to evaluate recommendations on the US moving
towards IFRS. However, the SEC has no time schedule, at present,
for the staff delivering a recommendation on its consideration of
adopting IFRS.

Following several delays the SEC was expected
to make a decision on whether or not to adopt IFRS this year.

The SEC report complimented the work of the
IASB done so far and improvements made since 2010 when the SEC
first tasked the staff of the chief accountant’s office with
preparing the work plan.

SEC’s chief accountant James Kroeker, who has
left the SEC this month, said in December last year that the
decision would only to be delayed by a ‘few months’ in order to
finish its work plan and arrive at a decision. .

Industry response

In  the past several months
many industry stakeholders from around the world have called on the
SEC to allow large US coprorates to report under IFRS and delaying
the decision further could have serious consequences on the future
of international standards.

In a
statement the IFRS Trustees said they r
egret the staff
report is not accompanied by a recommended action plan for the SEC
to make its decision.

“Given the achievements of the convergence
programme inspired by repeated calls of the G20 for global
accounting standards, a clear action plan would be welcome,” the
IFRS Trustees said.

IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst said IFRS has
already reached a critical mass and this is a “pivotal moment for
our organisation”.

“The IASB has started working on a new agenda.
The era of convergence is coming to an end. We are revamping our
institutional infrastructure to provide for a more inclusive
approach to international standard-setting. This is the right
timing to come on board and participate in shaping the future of
global accounting,” Hoogervorst said. 

American Institute of Certified
Public Accountants (AICPA) president and chief executive Barry
Melancon said he “applauds” the work of the SEC staff and urges the
SEC to consider the staff report with “expediency”.

 “We also urge the
Commissioners to allow US public companies the option to adopt
IFRS. An adoption option would provide a level of consistency in
the treatment of US companies and foreign private issuers that
report under IFRS that does not exist today, and would facilitate
the comparison of US companies that elect IFRS with their non-US
competitors that use IFRS,” Melancon said.


SEC IFRS adoption decision date unknown