Revenue Recognition

Chief SEC Accountant Revives IFRS Debate

New to the job, James Schnurr suggests that a U.S. switch to global accounting rules is still not out of the question.
Matthew HellerNovember 10, 2014
Chief SEC Accountant Revives IFRS Debate

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s new chief accountant isn’t saying whether he personally supports switching U.S. companies to global accounting rules. But in the near future James Schnurr does hope to make a recommendation.

globalaccountingSchnurr, a former partner at Deloitte LLP, has been at the SEC for only a month, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, he told reporters at a securities regulation conference last week that he was “in the process of getting up to speed” on the previous work the agency has done on a possible switch to the global rules known as International Financial Reporting Standards.

Drive Business Strategy and Growth

Drive Business Strategy and Growth

Learn how NetSuite Financial Management allows you to quickly and easily model what-if scenarios and generate reports.

When his review is completed, Schnurr said, he will talk to SEC Chair Mary Jo White informally about what he thinks the SEC’s course of action should be. “I would hope that within the next few months there would be movement on this,” he said.

White said during a speech in May that the commission was planning to revisit the issue, and she called it “a priority for me.”

Accounting industry leaders, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, have been pressing for the U.S. to switch to using IFRS from the current U.S. system of generally accepted accounting principles. IFRS is used in more than 100 countries, the WSJ noted, and its advocates say companies and investors would benefit from having a single set of accounting rules in use world-wide.

“But momentum toward a full-blown U.S. changeover to the global system has stalled amid concerns about cost, implementation and the burden on smaller companies,” the Journal said.

Schnurr told reporters at the Practising Law Institute conference last week that he didn’t have “any predetermined view about what [the SEC’s] action should be.” But during an appearance at an SEC round-table meeting in 2007, he said having some issuers reporting in IFRS and others using U.S. GAAP would have “a positive impact to a neutral impact” on U.S. markets.

“We have companies reporting under IFRS, and we’ve got companies reporting under U.S. GAAP, and the investment community, the analyst community have been able to deal with that and make comparisons,” he said.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Image: Thinkstock