Sir Michael Rake is currently the Deputy Chairman of Barclays. and, from 2002 to 2007, he was the Chairman of KPMG International. Last night, Sir Mike did quite the impressive thing — that is, he got all Dad on accountants and bankers by telling the former how proud he was of them while telling the […]
In case you forgot, Sir David Tweedie is retiring next week as the head of the IASB. It’s been quite a run for Tweeds and good money says his friends at the Board will send him off in style worthy of a knighted Scotsman (read: getting him blind drunk and some hooliganism). He’s had many accomplishments in his time running the IASB but there’s one goal that will ultimately elude him when he hangs up the eyeshade. That is the dream of converged accounting standards. It certainly has been a noble quest worthy of his accounting “rock star” status but you can’t help but imagine that you might happen across SDT in a pub muttering to himself over a pint about “the one that got away.”
Sir David’s biggest project has been convergence of IASB’s rules with those of America’s Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). The two had set a June deadline, timed to coincide with Sir David’s retirement, to iron out their differences. That won’t be met.
But you can’t do it all. So now the task of accounting rule copulation will now fall to Dutchman Hans Hoogevorst but if Sir David is feeling a little like a failure, he should know that there are people out there still think he’s pretty badass since he got the SEC to come to the table:
Sir David should not be too disappointed that convergence is not complete. That the process has come as far as it has—and that America’s Securities and Exchange Commission might decide later this year to adopt IASB’s standards—is something no one could have predicted ten years ago, says Nigel Sleigh-Johnson of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.
So enjoy your retirement, oh knighted one. Your double-entry immortality is secure.
The balladeer of the balance-sheet [The Economist]
Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s annual CFO Network meeting in Washington D.C., Schapiro readily admitted that there isn’t a big push from either multinationals or shareholders to move to international financial reporting standards.
In response to a question from Bank of America’s CFO, Chuck Noski, Schapiro said, “We have not heard from a lot of shareholders that we have to go (to IFRS). We’ve heard the contrary… ‘Why would we take this step toward international accounting standards?’” [CFOJ]
He may be on his way out the door but still IASB chair David “that’s Sir David to you” Tweedie is still sick of all our heel-dragging on IFRS in the U.S. He hasn’t gone so far as to say we’ll be left in the capital market dust if we don’t adopt tomorrow but he’s clearly fed up with our procrastination.
If they put off a commitment to international financial reporting standards beyond 2011, U.S. accounting rulemakers and standard-setters would impose “unnecessary costs and risks on U.S. companies,” Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board, said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering on the future of financial reporting.
The major risks are competitive ones, said Tweedie. U.S.-based multinationals already must fill numerous sets of accounting books. Many must file their financials under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles even as they report on the activities of their overseas subsidiaries under IFRS or the standards crafted by individual nations, he pointed out. At the same time, their foreign competitors can use IFRS for all purposes, even for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he added.
As is, the transition to IFRS is estimated to cost American companies $35 million per year (remember 3 years of restatements will be required). We’re not sure if he has access to different estimates that somehow make qualified IFRS monkey restatements more expensive in 2012 and beyond than they would be by the end of this year but it seems painfully clear that he means business.
I’m not sure if he missed the memo but we don’t seem as enthusiastic about convergence as we did when we delayed the release of a roadmap in 2008. Three years later, we don’t appear to be any more prepared for the transition than we were then and still have three (or make that four) more good years to drag our heels according to recent statements by the SEC.
How much clearer does Tweeds need it? We’re just not that into your standards.
As you probably remember, head knight of the double-entry accounting round table, Sir David Tweedie, is retiring in a few months to be replaced by this guy. Until then, however, the wily Scotsman will be running the show and he’s still pitching IFRS as if the life of the financial reporting universe depended on it. Just like Bob Herz, he’s in this thing until the very end.
CFO has a brief Q&A with SDT and despite the USA’s pussyfooting around the issue, he manages to rush to our defense at the suggestion of haters that the IASB should give us the “throw the bums out” treatment:
Some critics grumble that if the United States does not adopt IFRS, it should be ousted from the IASB and the board of trustees. What’s your opinion?
I get quite angry at some of the comments we get insisting that the United States be ousted. People say that America would have to come around because the U.S. share of global-market capitalization is falling all the time. The complaint is, “We’re not having [the United States] tell us what to do if they don’t use international standards.” I can understand that, and you can have international standards without the United States. But you can’t have global standards without the United States. So there is more work to be done on that issue.
So in other words, suck it world! You can keep your international standards. We’ve got a knighted Scotsman who even said you’ll make due without us. Call it whatever you like, just don’t call it “global” without us. Because you can’t spell “global” without “A”… which stands for…er….”America.” BASTARDS.
[BREATHE] Never mind that. The most interesting bit is that Tweeds appears to blow the lid of the Big 4 omertá:
What’s been your experience with professional judgment? Many U.S. practitioners say a heavy reliance on judgment won’t work in America’s litigious environment.
As a technical partner at KPMG, I was always being asked to evaluate situations that were outside of issued guidance. It’s the same in the United States — you get questions you’ve never thought about before, and there’s nothing in the standards addressing it. So you kick it around with the client, the client partners, and other senior partners in the firm. You come up with a position.
[My approach was to] ring up Deloitte, for example, and say, “Have you had one of these [situations]?” There is sort of a technical-partner mafia that gets together and says, “Yeah, we had one of these.” So, in a way, the profession fixes the problems.
So whether this is happening under the nose of the brass or with their full and unmitigated support can’t be determined, although we won’t be surprised if the old man ends up “retiring” early.
Tweedie Takes a Bow [CFO]
No doubt many a KPMG employees have thought to themselves, “If Warhol painted the KPMG namesakes, what would they look like?”
As you can see, you no longer have to wonder.
It just so happens that the Pittsburgh office’s alumni get-together will be at the Warhol Museum and our tipster wondered if this money could have been better spent on the Steel City employees:
I have a feeling the local partners spent the extra money they didn’t give out in bonuses (note bonuses were given, I’m just saying they could have been bigger) on hiring someone to “Warhol” out the KPMG founders below. Great artistry though.
Frankly, we’re of the opinion that this might be some of the best money the Steel City office has ever spent. However, it’s entirely possible that KPMG does some work for the museum and they’re swapping services, which again, seems like a pretty good deal.
Here’s the full invite:
We’re not Warhol experts so we’ll let you debate the artwork but we do have a few takeaways:
1. KPMG has a knight!
2. Three out of four rocking ‘staches.
3. Is it “Uncle Piet”? Or “Uncle Peat”?
4. What’s with three sour faces, KPM? At least Goerdeler looks like someone you would want to work for.
Any other questions? Leave them below.
Look, pal. We get that you’re anxious to slap these sets of accounting rules together like an IKEA ottoman. We also get that you and a certain knight want – nay – need the RW&B to be on board.
But we don’t know who you’re trying to boss here. See, we’re fairly certain you’d be speaking German if it wasn’t for us. Furthermore, in case you haven’t noticed, we like dragging things out until the last possible minute. Or just ignoring things until we have a giant mess on our hands and then we try cleaning up. Why would we treat IFRS any different?
We understand it’s a new century, millennium and you guys have a rough go in the World Cup but you can give it a rest.
We’ll get to IFRS when we’re good and ready and just because today is Bob Herz’s last day at the FASB doesn’t mean you need to get all anxious about it:
The US is due to make a decision about whether fully buy in to international standards in the latter half of next year. There has been speculation that the appointment of a new chairman for the US standard setter, FASB, could determine which way the world’s biggest economy will go on international standards.
In a speech yesterday to a conference organised by European financial think tank EUROFI, Barnier welcomed the involvement of the US in the Basel talks on financial regulation. But he added that the US should not part company with IFRS.
“It’s essential that we adopt the same prudential framework. I say this very simply, we cannot afford to take the risk of divergence in this area. And this is also the case for accounting standards,” he said.
EU chief urges US to buy into IFRS [Accountancy Age]
This means you PricewaterhouseCoopers. You’re acting like this convergence/IFRS adoption is just happening too fast, well, Tweeds isn’t having it.
As for you companies out there that actually have to keep their books in tiptop shape, Sir Tweeds isn’t so amused by your bellyaching either. And for the love of God, would everyone quit playing dumb:
“Let’s look at what we’ve got out there at the moment – leases, revenue recognition and insurance. If you’re not an insurance company you’ve got two. Big deal,” he said.
“I’m not terribly sympathetic. It’s not as thought these have sprung out of no where, we’ve been working on these, they’ve seen the drafts coming, they know what we’re doing.
Furthermore, maybe if you got some of your people on this instead of writing a comment letter every two seconds, this wouldn’t seem like such monumental task.
“It’s tough, but goodness it’s tough for us too. We can’t keep getting all this advice. We always get conflicting advice. ‘You must have these done by June 2011, but don’t give them to us all at once’,” he said.
Tweedie “not terribly sympathetic” to concerns of standard-overload [Accountancy Age]
Sir Michael Rake, the Chairman of BT Group plc (also the former Chairman of KPMG International) presumably wasn’t happy that the $2.4 billion writedown the British telecom giant had to take this past year. No one likes surprises, especially red, multi-billion dollar ones, and after some careful consideration, Rake asked PwC to clean house:
Sir Michael Rake said that PwC changed its personnel after BT expressed its concerns.
He said: “We have reviewed and strengthened our internal audit [function]. We have had discussions with our external auditors and we asked for changes in their team.
“We did a complete review as to what went wrong and why we took longer than we should have to pick up on this issue.”
There is typically some rotation in audit teams working on big accounts but for the client to demand wholesale change is rare. BT had also considered dropping the firm.
SO! Rather than give PwC the heave-ho, cooler heads seem to have prevailed. Since Rake is is a former Klynveldian, that option is out (he left in ’07) and since the FTSE 100 loves the Big 4, that only leaves two options.
Rather than go slumming with E&Y, Deloitte or – God forbid – Grant Thornton or BDO, BT will stick it out with P. Dubs. BUT a knight doesn’t have to like it.
Some of you might think that Sir David Tweedie is trying evangelize IFRS all over this great U.S. GAAP land because A) he’s a wily Scotsman who isn’t afraid to wear a kilt to the office and sure as hell isn’t going to let a bunch of know-nothings tell him what’s best and B) he’s trying to throw his title.
Or maybe you just think he doesn’t care if the US of A is down with the financial reporting Kumbaya. Well Tweeds is Stateside putting everyone on notice that if that’s what you believe, you would be wrong. DEAD WRONG.
“The world is moving to a single set of high-quality global accounting standards, and this is too important an area for the U.S. not to be involved…After almost a decade of work to improve IFRS and U.S. GAAP and to seek their convergence, it’s time to finish the job.”
That’s the best he can do. And don’t bother asking him for the title, he can’t give it to you.
Not everyone is as hung up on converging U.S. GAAP and IFRS as Sir David Tweedie.
As you may recall, Tweeds delayed his retirement in order to see the rules copulate and bring forth debit and credit harmony.
As admirable as his commitment to the project is, not too many people share his enthusiasm:
A survey by CFA Institute , an international association of more than 16,000 investment professionals, showed that three quarters of respondents believe that improving standards so they are more useful for making investment decisions is “at least as important if not more important” than reducing complexity or convergence.
While respondents generally support convergence, only 6 per cent of those surveyed, including research analysts, portfolio managers, corporate financial analysts and accountants, believe converging the International Accounting Standards Board and its US rival should be the primary objective.
It’s bad enough that Tweeds gets hassled by non-knighted clowns that don’t know a debit from their ass but now there’s a survey out there that says his pet project isn’t that important.
Plus, the SEC doesn’t seem too hung up on it and the FASB has its own problems. Has double-entry chivalry lost all its meaning?
Investors cool on audit convergence [FT]
Does there happen to be a law in the EU that says that if you’re not a knight you have to keep your piehole shut when it comes to accounting rules? Because if there isn’t, there needs to be. We may give Sir David Tweedie a hard time here (mostly because we’re jealous of the prefix) but we hardly think that he needs pressure from anyone on double-entry accounting.
Despite the knighted one keeping his promises, Eddy Wymeersch, chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR) has made it known that the IASB isn’t floating his boat and he would like to go back to the bureaucratic drawing board.
Wymeersch questioned whether there was adequate accountability at the IASB, a London-based body that has already made several changes to its governance, such as setting up a new monitoring group.
“I can remind you the CESR thought it should be in the monitoring group but that did not take place. In my view, this has to be drawn up again and start from scratch,” he said.
Please, non-knight Eddy Wymeersch, remind us that you suggested that you should be allowed to stick your beak into the IASB’s business. We have trouble remembering that politicians all across the blue marble so desperately want to be involved in the oversight of accounting rules.
EU regulator calls for accounting overhaul [Reuters]
Sir David Tweedie and his fellow non-knighted wonks have released IFRS 9, Financial Instruments today to much anticipation. For those companies that were chomping at the bit, you can adopt pronto but nothing is mandatory until the end of 2012.
You got to hand it to Tweeds. The BSD at the G20 demanded that the IASB take another look (read: change) at this fair value thing ASAP and he delivered, AS PROMISED:
We have delivered on our commitment to the G20 and stakeholders internationally to provide an improved financial instrument standard for the classification and measurement of financial assets for use in 2009. Benefiting from unprecedented levels of consultation with stakeholders around the world, the IASB has made significant changes in its initial proposals to improve the standard, provide enhanced transparency and respond to stakeholder concerns.
Very impressive, so the ball is your court, Norwalk. You better get off your asses and come up with something good because none of you have knighthood and we haven’t seen much evidence of your re-quadrupled efforts. We already know that you’re talking Plan B but give us something, anything. You’re worried about Congress, sure but the Europeans are making you look bad. Is there any American knight-ish equivalent that Bob Herz could get that would help give him a boost in confidence?
If you’ve got suggestions, leave them in the comments. We’re at a total loss.
IASB completes first phase of financial instruments accounting reform [IASB Press Release]
New fair value standard rushed out by IASB [Accountancy Age]