For some time now, I've been featuring various worries by various people about non-GAAP reporting in the morning roundup. You see, lots of people think that GAAP = Good and non-GAAP = Bad because non-GAAP reporting often presents a rosier picture of a company's financial performance. This made non-GAAP reporting immensely popular among public companies […]
Cretinous cheese puff and future American emperor Donald Trump likes to remind people of his long run as a very smart, very successful, very smart and very successful — probably the greatest ever, if he's being honest about it — businessman. There are too many stories to go around about all his WINNING, so to […]
Here's a study (via Broc Romanek) that surveyed 400 CFOs on the misrepresentation of earnings. It's remarkably unremarkable on a number of points, including that CFOs say the two biggest drivers of earnings manipulation are 1) to influence a company's stock price and 2) pressure to hit earnings targets. But also, you'll be floored to […]
Funny that the IASB and FASB working together on a new lease accounting standard was totally kumbaya up until recently, when everything fell apart and both sides realized this convergadoption thing is totally never going to happen. Too bad, joining forces on revenue recognition made it seem so likely despite the fact that everyone including […]
You will note that a bound copy of GAAP comes in at 7,692 pages (as of 2011). By comparison, the Guinness Book of World Records' thickest book published — Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories — comes in at 4,032 pages. Knowing this, FASB is attempting to shave off a page or two off the beast […]
Four months after opening its review of Apple’s finances, the Securities and Exchange Commission has closed it, having found nothing untoward about the company’s handling of its overseas cash and related tax policies. In a September letter to Apple, released late last week, the SEC said it had completed its review of the company’s fiscal 2012 […]
After a month of some public and private sniping, NASBA and AICPA seem to be burying the hatchet and have issued a joint press release promising to work together: The AICPA and NASBA are committed to engaging in an effort to ensure that the FRF for SMEs, as a non-authoritative framework, is not confused with […]
I intended to get to this yesterday but I was having too much fun rummaging through SEC DCF letters and the day ran out on me. Anyway, NASBA issued a press release to congratulate the Private Company Council for its three proposals for GAAP Lite and they can managed to contain themselves — this time — from telling […]
Judging by the AICPA's PR blitz, you'd think that everyone was excited about their release of its Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities. Just out of curiousity, I went back and I read three articles on the subject from Accounting Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times to see if there was any dissent on […]
On a call with analysts, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke announced that the network will break even on the Olympics, which is a pleasant surprise for the company since they initially projected a $200 million loss. Mr. Burke stated that he was strictly speaking on a "cash on cash basis" and then (this is my imagination […]
Wells Fargo analysts are raising estimates for some of the biggest players on Wall Street, but don't go thinking that business is going well: The increased earnings estimates on Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are not due to underlying business improvements. Wells Fargo remains convinced that the quarter will be […]
Thirty three state CPA societies have reached out to the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) or passed regulations urging it to create a new board to write differential financial reporting standards for private companies. Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all feel FASB’s current standards setting process does not adequately address the needs of the private company sector.
“In today’s business world it is extremely rare to get an overwhelming consensus supporting one idea. However, the responses from the state societies are another example of the CPA profession’s overwhelming support for an independent board to set differential standards for private businesses,” said Barry Melancon, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) president and CEO. “The message is clear; FAF must do this now or run the risk of missing our best opportunity to make GAAP relevant for private companies.” The thirty three states in agreement on this issue represent some 275,000 CPAs.
These state societies basically told FAF that GAAP has become too complex, and the cost associated with GAAP-based financial reporting has become too much of a pain in the assets for private companies, placing an unnecessary burden on these companies with little benefit to financial statement users as a result of this effort. Personally I think the states here are forgetting that the complexity of GAAP and its esoteric intricacies keep a lot of CPAs gainfully employed, as someone actually has to analyze, manipulate, audit and teach that crap. CPA review instructors need to sell FAR videos. Caleb and I need things to make fun of, like SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker reminding a PACE University IFRS discussion that the P in GAAP stands for principles. Right. Like we forgot.
Anyway, nearly 3,000 letters have been sent to FAF from the private company constituency in support of this separate board for private company reporting standard setting. Maybe FASB has too much to do and too many clever interns to train. Maybe FASB has lost its public company influence and this is just the first step in the coup to overthrow it. I haven’t heard very many pushing for more FASs directly handed down from (mostly) European accounting standard setters but that’s an argument for a different day.
“The boards of more than half of the country’s state CPA societies, representing more than a quarter of a million CPAs, agree that a systemic problem exists,” stated Paul V. Stahlin, chairman of the AICPA. “After over 30 years of research by numerous diverse and independent groups, the only conclusion is that an autonomous standard-setting body under FAF to set differential standards for privately held companies must be created.”
Must be. There’s no way around that.
And for those interested, here’s a tl;dr PwC report tangentially related to private company accounting standards you can read. Perfect for a Friday.
According to Bloomberg, Groupon’s operating income and other accounting
trickery habits are being studied by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, part of a routine review of the site’s IPO. Nothing out of the ordinary there.
But Groupon seems pretty transparent about the unreliability of their methodology. I guess this is to say “don’t rely on this information, we’re kind of making some of these numbers up” so investors can’t say they weren’t warned.
Check out this June 2, 2011 SEC filing:
Our use of Adjusted CSOI has limitations as an analytical tool, and you should not consider this measure in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. Some of these limitations are:
• Adjusted CSOI does not reflect the significant cash investments that we currently are making to acquire new subscribers;
• Adjusted CSOI does not reflect the potentially dilutive impact of issuing equity-based compensation to our management team and employees or in connection with acquisitions;
• Adjusted CSOI does not reflect any interest expense or the cash requirements necessary to service interest or principal payments on any indebtedness that we may incur;
• Adjusted CSOI does not reflect any foreign exchange gains and losses;
• Adjusted CSOI does not reflect any tax payments that we might make, which would represent a reduction in cash available to us;
• Adjusted CSOI does not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital needs; and
• other companies, including companies in our industry, may calculate Adjusted CSOI differently or may use other financial measures to evaluate their profitability, which reduces the usefulness of it as a comparative measure.
Because of these limitations, Adjusted CSOI should not be considered as a measure of discretionary cash available to us to invest in the growth of our business. When evaluating our performance, you should consider Adjusted CSOI alongside other financial performance measures, including various cash flow metrics, net loss and our other GAAP results.
Better yet, AQPQ explains the math behind ACSOI:
Groupon acknowledges that it is losing money when profits and losses are measured in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The firm claims, however, that its profits and losses are more meaningfully measured by a metric they call Adjusted Consolidated Segment Operating Income (ACSOI).
How does this number differ from profits and losses that are measured in accordance with GAAP? ACSOI apparently includes all of the revenues, but only some of the expenses, that are recognized by GAAP. By excluding certain significant expenses, Groupon manages to convert its losses into profits.
So what is the SEC going to find? Accounting methods already confessed to by the perps? Big deal.
It’s been said before so the argument that GAAP is bulky and pointless is really nothing new but in a WSJ op-ed this morning, guest writer Mike Michalowicz insists that GAAP is wrong… for profits, that is.
The GAAP actually directs us to spend first, then pay ourselves, and call the leftovers profit. How are you going to grow a successful business and accumulate wealth using that method? Generate more revenue, you say? Well, sure. Except that you’re going to spend it. So you’re right back where you started—working with the leftovers, if you have any.
I propose a new type of accounting: Profit First Accounting (PFA). The difference between GAAP and PFA is simple: Deduct profit first, from the top down. On a PFA income statement, the first line item is revenue, followed by a profit deduction, then your salary, followed by cost of goods and all other expenses.
Hey, guess what? We already have an alternative accounting system lurking in the wings. Allegedly IFRS will help companies that spend quite a bit on R&D buff up equity as R&D costs are considered assets, isn’t that an improvement over GAAP? IFRS also allows for financial statements to come together in whatever order, however those preparing the statements feel is most relevant to the entity’s economic picture. So what’s to stop them from slapping them together as the author suggests above?
GAAP is not meant to transform internal accounting departments into psychics and I doubt any U.S. companies use it because they feel it helps construct a useful picture of the entity that can be used for goal-setting and forecasting. That’s just not what it’s there to do and I think we can all agree on that.
Oh and by the way, Mike is the author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, which he will be able to follow up with a sequel if we actually take his suggestion and try this Profit First idea. Yes business is all about profit but I think Mike is forgetting that companies file for the good of investors and regulatory bodies breathing down their necks, not necessarily for their own good or for the good of their almighty profits.
From the looks of it, the company in quest astle, was set up simply to serve in the traditional role of outside investor in another company’s off-balance-sheet financing vehicle, which is known as a special purpose or variable interest entity to accountants and a conduit or structured investment vehicle in the world of banks.
The arrangement is common enough and there’s nothing wrong with it, strictly speaking, so long as the outside investor is independent of the sponsor of the entity and the arrangements are properly disclosed.
Remember Citigroup’s SIVs? They spawned the first ill-fated bank bailout effort, by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. And they were similar to the entity that Hudson created for Lehman, called Fenway.
The problem with these gizmos, of course, is that sponsors often claim not to be responsible for the assets and yet end up on the hook for them anyway, which is what happened to Citi. But that in itself doesn’t make them fraudulent, at least not according to GAAP.
In Lehman’s case, the problem seems to be that Hudson was controlled by Lehman, if not at the time it was created, then certainly under later rules, according to Charles Mulford, an accounting professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and an advisor to CFOZone.
At first glance, it seems like the opposite might be the case, since Lehman reportedly dominated Hudson’s board when it was created in 2001. And Lehman’s influence over Hudson diminished significantly in 2004, when its board seats were reduced from five to one, presumably along with Lehman’s equity in the firm.
Just conceivably, that might have been done to conform with the changes in the accounting rules. But Mulford says that might not have been enough to comply, because the new rules require the so-called primary beneficiary of the vehicle to consolidate its assets regardless of how much equity the outside investor has in it. Even after 2004, Lehman remained the single largest investor in Hudson, according to the Times.
“Given changes to accounting for SPEs, one could argue that Lehman had effective control of the Hudson Castle SPEs, even if it didn’t have voting control, necessitating consolidation,” Mulford said in an email to CFOZone.
Of course, the significance of the arrangement remains unclear, as the Times article failed to explain how much of Lehman’s debt was shifted into the Fenway SPE. It looks as if at least $3 billion was shifted into Fenway in this fashion, but that’s a lot less than the $50 billion Lehman shifted off of its balance sheet through so-called Repo 105 transactions in 2008.
Incidentally, while Lehman’s auditor Ernst & Young recently claimed that amounts Lehman shifted in this fashion weren’t sufficient to cause the firm’s failure, since its total assets exceeded $600 billion, I just saw in the bankruptcy examiner’s report that the firm refused to say the amounts weren’t immaterial when it signed off on Lehman’s financial statements. And the examiner’s report insisted that they were indeed material.
A blue ribbon panel on private company accounting is holding its inaugural meeting Monday, to assess how financial reporting standards can best meet the needs of users of US private company financial statements, which are mostly for bankers and other types of lenders.
The panel, formed by the Financial Accounting Foundation, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, will meet five times throughout the year and will issue a report with recommendations on the future of standard setting for private companies by the end of the year.
The debate has resurfaced after the International Accounting Standard Board issued international standards for private companies last July (called IFRS for SMEs). Financial experts have been discussing this topic for decades. For instance, in 1996, the Financial Executive Research Foundation issued a paper titled “What do users of private company financial statements want?”
Some of the old and new questions the panel will address:
• What is the key, decision-useful information that the various users need from GAAP financial statements?
• Are current GAAP financial statements meeting those needs?
• How does standard setting for private companies in the US compare to standard setting in other countries, both those that have adopted IFRS for small and medium-size entities and those that have not?
To the extent that current GAAP is not meeting user needs in a cost-beneficial manner, what are some possible alternatives or private company standards?
Even if GAAP is found wanting, however, the panel might not be all that keen on IFRS as an alternative, given the limited experience of US companies with the international regime and rising skepticism on the part of the Securities and Exchange Commission about the independence of the body setting international standards.
Not that public or private US companies are eager to switch to IFRS, which will be costly and cumbersome. At this point, it seems as if private ones would rather have the accounting devil they know, except they no doubt wish it were a bit less hellacious on their results. And that’s been pretty much a forlorn hope for years.
First of all, the charge is an estimate of future costs and will have no immediate impact on cash flow. And the estimate is unusually large because the accounting rules require costs that would otherwise be reported in the future to be reported now, simply because they are the result of a change in tax treatment.
As my former colleague Marie Leone reports at CFO.com, such “true-ups” over differences in tax and book accounting practices are just that. The real cost will be spread out over many quarters.
More importantly, the hit is the result of a loss of a major taxpayer subsidy. Maybe it made sense before to provide that. But given all the concern about the federal deficit, it seems to me that asking shareholders to bear a bit more of the burden for retiree drug benefits is hardly unfair.
And in the greater scheme of things, the hit may be so small as to have little impact on companies’ valuations, as a Credit Suisse analyst pointed out the other day. General Electric didn’t even break out its estimate for that reason, calling the cost “immaterial.”
The question is whether companies will stop paying for the benefits because of the cost, and that’s unlikely unless they’re willing to compensate for the loss with higher wages, as economist Dean Baker reiterated to me in an email late last week.
“The standard economist view is that the cost of health care comes overwhelmingly out of wages,” Baker wrote. “If they have to pay more in taxes, then it will mostly come out of workers’ pay and have very little impact on their costs and ability to compete.”
If on the other hand, a decline in healthcare costs leads to higher wages, that would mean a stronger economy, so I don’t see how either taxpayers or shareholders will lose here in the long run.
Yes, that’s a big if, but as I’ve said before, the new healthcare law is the biggest effort to rein in costs undertaken to date. Of course more must be done, but the law will provide a big impetus to those efforts.
Hopefully, all this will become clearer as a result of the hearings Rep. Henry Waxman plans to hold next week on this issue, but I’m not holding my breath.
• Porn Nightmare Never Ends for SEC Official [FINS]
Whatever your porn preferences, you’re probably not sharing them with complete strangers. If you are, the cloud of awkward around you has got to be so thick that you may as well have leprosy. However, if you have the unfortunate luck of getting caught viewing this art form at work, then you might be forced to discuss your preferences, how often you’re engaging in the activity, among other things:
[T]he really juicy stuff begins when he’s asked about accessing Web sites like tgirlhotspot.com and ladyboyx.com (warning, very NSFW) : “Our records show that on Wednesday, August 13, 2008, beginning at 1:57 p.m., you made approximately 85 attempts…to access a Web site called tgirlhotspot.com. Do you have any recollection of attempting to access this site?”
The employee answers: “I do not personally have recollection of it, but it would not surprise me.” To which the inspector — and the reader — responds: “Okay. That’s fair.”
Seriously, who can remember every instance that they’ve visited ladyboyx.com? Does the guy have a photographic memory? Maybe on certain images but date, time, and spreadsheet you had open that you could quickly jump to in case someone came to close? That’s asking a little much.
• Should the U.S. Forget about Private-Company GAAP? [CFO Blog]
Now that the Blue Ribbon Panel for private company GAAP has been announced, it makes some people wonder if the non-SEC types will just ignore this whole song and dance the Commission is doing get with the IFRS program ASAP. Ahh, the advantages of being a private company…
Even though both the BRP and the SEC will release their musings on their respective topics in 2011, private companies already have options, “[T]he U.S. private sector has already set some IFRS wheels in motion. In 2008, AICPA recognized the IASB as an official standard-setter, which means U.S. auditors are allowed to issue opinions on private-company financial results filed using IFRS.”
It’s doubtful that IFRS reporting will spread like H1N1 among private companies but while the SEC twiddles the private sector seems to recognize where all this is ultimately going.
• Jason Chaffetz: Ax Hill staff tax cheats [Politico]
Since all the members of the House are up for reelection this year, everyone needs something solid to campaign on and apparently Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has found his stump.
Chaffetz is introducing legislation that would extend an IRS policy — termination employees that haven’t paid their federal taxes — to all federal departments and agencies.
In 2008 alone, 447 House employees and 231 Senate workers didn’t pay their taxes, according to figures from the IRS, Office of Personnel Management and Department of Defense.
“We have over 600 staffers on Capitol Hill not paying their taxes. That’s just not acceptable,” Chaffetz said in an interview with POLITICO. “It’s disingenuous to take federal taxpayer dollars and not pay your full share of taxes. It’s wrong.”
Between to the two bodies in Congress, over $8 million are owed in taxes. We don’t have to remind anyone how little money this is grand scope of the federal government. But hey! Rep. Chaffetz has an election to win and by God, this could be the ticket. Some other notable delinquent federal employees include the Postal Service at $257 million; Dept. of Veteran Affairs at $131 million; Army and Navy owe $81 million and $61 million respectively.
But pointing out those people wouldn’t make for very good press.
Deutsche Babk need someone to join their Finance Division; preferably someone that has knowledge of both U.S. GAAP, IFRS and bonus points for you if you know anything about German HGB accounting.
The position requires at least four years experience and a CPA/MBA is desirable.
Get more details after the jump.
Company: Deutsche Bank
Title: Finance Manager – VP
Location: New York, NY
Experience: 4 – 8 years
Selected responsibilities: All DB legal entity financial reporting for a number of subsidiaries supported in DE. This includes all general ledger balances, and reporting oversight for risk, intercompany reconciliation, regulatory and management purposes; Requires compliance with corporate and regulatory policies. Must be able to identify when a transaction may impact certain key policies, and know when to refer issues to key contacts in treasury, accounting policy, legal, tax and regulatory areas; Work with Accounting Policy and DB Advisory to properly apply GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) to transactions initiated by business lines that will be recorded on legal entities.
Qualifications: BS/BA Accounting and 4-8 years work experience in financial accounting; CPA or MBA is desirable, but equivalent experience acceptable; Experience with SAP, Essbase and or BCS (Business Consolidation System) a plus; Good knowledge in IFRS GAAP and/or US GAAP needed. Any knowledge of German HGB accounting standards a big plus.
A tipster pointed us to Apple’s transcript from last night’s earnings call, noting that the company has indicated that they will no longer be providing non-GAAP measures. This is a result of the solid that the FASB did for Apple back in September:
We are very pleased by the FASB’s ratification of the new accounting principles as we believe they will better enable us to reflect the underlying economics and performance of our business and therefore we will no longer be providing non-GAAP financial measures.
Our tipster noted that since using non-GAAP measures are a commonly used by companies and analysts, Apple’s declaration that they would not be “providing non-GAAP financial measures,” could potentially change things. It’s one thing if say, Koss were to say they’re not going to provide non-GAAP numbers, but this is Apple.
The company enjoys a top of the mind position, so other companies may embrace this method of engaging with analysts and other users. And since Apple isn’t shy about controlling the information they provide (e.g. Steve Jobs’ pancreas) this seems to be another way for them to dictate the information they are providing.
It’s not a stretch to say that many companies try to emulate Apple; whether or not they will emulate Apple’s financial reporting methods remains to be seen. Strange, because we figured they were just innovative on the gadget front.
• AP: Ponzi collapses nearly quadrupled in ’09 – Thimble-dick Bernie, Allen Stanford, Tom “Cocker Spaniel” Petters, all did their part. [via HuffPo]
• The First Annual Jr Deputy Accountant Year in Review Awards (or some h*t) – Somehow we ended up on this list and somehow JDA managed to make it a backhanded compliment (we think). [JDA]
• Koss financial records will get more scrutiny in 2010 – With comments from Tracy Coenen at Fraud Files. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• The Man Who Wired Silicon Valley – How Raj got the world by the short and curlies. [WSJ]
• GM Plans Pontiac Fire Sale – “GM sent letters to dealers Dec. 23 saying it would pay them $7,000 for every new Saturn or Pontiac on their lot that is moved to rental-vehicle or service-vehicle fleets operated by the dealers.” So yes, they’ll seem extra pushy. [WSJ]
• The Big Zero – As in the decade we’re finishing up. Prof. Krugman also quotes Diet Coke fiend Larry Summers stating that GAAP was the most important innovation in history and that it allows investors to make good decisions. According to PK, also a big zero. [Paul Krugman/NYT]
• Spurious academic study of the day, Tiger Woods edition – Ball-parking investors’ losses due to TW’s cheating ways is not so easy, nay, ridiculous. [Felix Salmon/Reuters]
Even though the convergence of IFRS and U.S. GAAP seems like a DeLorean ride away accounting professors polled believe that it should be included in the curriculum, according to Web CPA:
More, after the jump
The survey, by KPMG and the American Accounting Association, found that half of the professors who responded to the survey said they thought a low sense of urgency exists among U.S. regulators to adopt IFRS by a “date certain,” while only 16 percent believe regulators have a high sense of urgency.
Regardless of academics’ pessimism about the SEC getting their shit together and making this marriage of accounting rules happen, the slow integration into the American curriculum is still occurring:
Despite this challenge, 70 percent said they have taken significant steps to incorporate IFRS into the curriculum. In addition, 83 percent believe IFRS needs to be incorporated into their curricula by 2011…Given the dynamics of the current regulatory environment, 79 percent of faculty believe that U.S. GAAP should continue to be taught over the next three to five years, while progressively incorporating more IFRS concepts via a compare-and-contrast approach as the conversion date approaches.
A majority of the respondents to the survey also expect IFRS to be included in the CPA Exam by 2012/2013 and in intermediate accounting textbooks by 2011/2012.
For those of you still cracking the books, discuss if your profs have brought this up and what kind of priority they’re putting on IFRS. We’re not holding our breath for anything meaningful from TPTB.
Accounting Professors Urge IFRS Education [Web CPA]
Sir David Tweedie, IASB Chairman, would sure appreciate it if the SEC would make up its damn mind about whether or not to commit to converging U.S. GAAP with IFRS. He spoke at the American Association of Accountants (AAA) annual meeting in New York yesterday and figured he might as well call out the SEC, who seems to be stonewalling him. He’s giving them until 2011 to figure it out.
Tweedie has been making like some kind of financial reporting missionary, going all around the world preaching the good word of IFRS. He’s said he’ll have 150 believers by 2011. But everywhere he goes, all anyone can talk about is whether the U.S. is converted yet.
More, after the jump
“That is a question I am asked all around the world. The convergence program is designed to reduce the cost of transition. FASB is riding two horses: US GAAP and trying to converge at the same time, but so are we.”…If you’re going to have global standards, we need the US, but it can’t go on indefinitely,” he said
We’re impressed that the knighted bean counter is putting his foot down here. We figured the SEC and the FASB could just continue doing whatever it is they do and Tweedie would just keeping asking them about it every month or so like they owed him fifty bucks.
Tweedie Warns of 2011 Deadline for IFRS Choice [Web CPA via Accountancy Age]
Academics in the U.S. aren’t too psyched about the benefits of IFRS, according to Compliance Week:
The United States already meets a high level of reporting quality relative to other countries as a result of various “institutional features,” said [Peter] Wysocki [Professor at MIT]. Those include things like an active investor and analyst community, a rigorous audit process, and oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission, among others, he said.
“It’s a little difficult to argue a move to IFRS will result in significant improvement in reporting quality,” Wysocki said. “We’re already at a high level because we already have those institutional features in place.
The debate over convergence has reached Biggie/Tupac fever and now that U.S. GAAP has got American bookworms shouting about how IFRS isn’t all that, we expect that academics on the other side of the pond will get involved and the debate will get fiercely geekier.
Academics: Move to IFRS Won’t Boost Reporting Quality [Compliance Week]
U.S. GAAP just got a little boost in its image versus its sexy rival, IFRS, courtesy of Audit Integrity, a research services firm.
Audit Integrity studied filings by European companies from 2001 to 2008, looking at filings both pre and post IFRS adoption. The objectives were, “to determine whether IFRS has been implemented consistently across Europe, whether it has resulted in a common method of reporting financial data, and how the depth and comparability of data under IFRS compares to U.S. GAAP.”
At first glance, one might think that with all the bashing of U.S. GAAP in recent years that this was IFRS chance to prove once and for all that it was the new cock of the walk.
Well, not so fast GAAP haters:
“Based on our analysis, we are not seeing a significant improvement in financial reporting when companies shift to IFRS,” said Jack Zwingli, CEO of Audit Integrity. “We found that IFRS is a common standard, but there are significant variances in IFRS reporting, in the completeness of information, the timeliness and the filing frequency.”
Sounds like IFRS ain’t all that does it? You want more?
The firm says overall there are indications that financial reporting is more consistent and more comparable under IFRS than before IFRS adoption in Europe, but it’s not clear that IFRS represents an improvement over U.S. GAAP. In fact, the firm’s report says GAAP filers may have an edge over IFRS filing in terms of the timeliness, depth and breadth of financial data provided to investors.
Ouch, IASB. You want the best part? The Europeans disclose less on executive compensation than we do here in America. You’re all familiar with how popular corporate executives are. To wit:
[Jack] Zwingli [Audit Integrity CEO] said he was also surprised that the analysis revealed IFRS generally provides less information about executive compensation. “It’s not good in the United States, but it’s better than it is in Europe,” he said. “There is more consistency in reporting and deeper coverage of data under GAAP than under IFRS.”
Seems like IFRS has got work to do…IASB, you can call us when you want to get serious.
Study Pokes Holes in IFRS Reporting Quality, Consistency [Accounting & Auditing Update/Compliance Week]