Washington (June 22, 2011) — The large majority of CPAs in the United States have some knowledge of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), the emerging globally accepted set of accounting rules, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The survey shows CPAs have begun to develop greater expertise, as American and world authorities work to converge U.S. Standards with global principles. At the same time, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suggesting a plan to incorporate IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting system.
“We’ve seen significant movement in the readiness of U.S. CPAs for introduction of IFRS in the U.S. over the three years since 2008 when we first introduced our website IFRS.com and began this tracking survey,” said Arleen Thomas, AICPA senior vice president for member competency and development. “While most AICPA members still support adoption of IFRS, our survey shows a slight reversal in readiness gains as CPAs await progress in the convergence of U.S. and international standards and a clear timeline from the SEC.”
Seventy-six percent of CPAs working in public companies are delaying preparations to adopt IFRS until the SEC issues a decision. That’s up 13 percentage points from 63 percent who were delaying six months ago. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in Norwalk, Connecticut, and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in London are working on a project to converge U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and IFRS.
The latest IFRS Readiness Survey was conducted via Internet poll between April 19 and May 11 with 1,351 respondents and a margin of error of less than plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. The survey shows that 78 percent of CPAs already have some knowledge of IFRS. The level of familiarity ranges from a rudimentary understanding of high-level concepts to enough expertise to train others.
The survey shows that approval of U.S. adoption of IFRS is strong: 53 percent support an SEC mandate requiring use of IFRS in the U.S. and another 23 percent think IFRS should be offered as a financial reporting option for public companies.
Almost three quarters of those surveyed -- 70 percent -- said they were aware that FASB and the IASB were working this year to converge U.S. and global standards on revenue recognition, leases and financial instruments. However, large majorities were unsure whether the proposed new standards and accompanying guidance in these areas would be improvements over existing standards.
The survey was conducted prior to the SEC’s publication on May 26 of a paper exploring a possible method for incorporating IFRS into U.S financial reporting through what’s being commonly referred to as “condorsement,” -- the combination of “convergence” and “endorsement.” The concept was first proposed in December by SEC Deputy Chief Accountant Paul Beswick at the AICPA’s National Conference on SEC and PCAOB Developments in Washington, D.C.
In the latest IFRS tracking survey conducted in April and May, only 16 percent of respondents said that they had heard of the “condorsement” model proposal. The SEC has requested feedback on its “condorsement” framework by July 31.
Since 2008, the SEC has allowed foreign companies to report using IFRS without reconciliation to U.S. GAAP, so it’s not surprising that familiarity with IFRS is highest among those CPAs who work in foreign-owned public companies. Fifty percent of CPAs working for foreign-owned public companies and 39 percent in foreign-owned private companies have already adopted IFRS or are ready to adopt.
For U.S. firms, the survey shows that CPAs are poised to take next steps but are still holding back. Nearly half -- 48 percent of CPAs working for U.S. public companies -- foresee a need for advanced or expert level knowledge of IFRS and 32 percent have begun actively preparing for adoption. Another 18 percent are planning to adopt IFRS.
The IFRS tracking survey results were announced at the AICPA’s spring meeting of its governing Council. More information on IFRS is available on the AICPA’s Web site http://www.IFRS.com.