Your next IASB chairman, Hans Hoogervorst, already has a few things on his to do list (right after scratching Sir David Tweedie’s name off the door), one of which involves restoring investor confidence by redoing last year’s bank stress tests in Europe since it seems they were not really credible, “One reason for scepticism was that sovereign bonds on the banking book were deemed to retain their full value, despite the fact that many were trading at steep discounts in the market,” he said. “The fact that some Irish banks that had passed the test later turned out to be insolvent only served to reinforce the doubts in the market.”
Doubts? That’s a kind way to put it.
Speaking at the two-day European Commission financial reporting and auditing conference, Hoogervorst also wanted to make sure everyone is clear on who rules the IASB. Despite appearances that rules are made by a handful of influential Europeans who like to play with accounting regs, he insisted the IASB is a multi-national group in which everyone gets a say. Or rather, he insisted that he’ll be trying to make sure the IASB is perceived as such, “It’s very important that we develop a governance structure that is more inclusive. At all costs we should avoid the perception that IFRS is dominated by a small group of nations,” he said. He did not seem to clarify if he was more worried about the actual structure of the IASB or just the appearance, nor did he mention how many U.S. delegates will have at the IASB’S table if we were to stop dragging our feet and just adopt already.
While auditors are taking a lot of heat for failing to catch just how bad off European banks were, H-squared doesn’t seem to feel they deserve so much criticism as they were simply following the rules. “How critical will auditors be when they see that regulators consider that severely discounted securities carry no risk?” he asked, obviously rhetorically.
Also in attendance at the conference, Federal Reserve senior associate director and chief accountant Arthur Lindo, who is hopeful that we here on this side of the pond will “move diligently towards some form of IFRS in the near future.” What Lindo did not say was whether or not the Fed would also adopt these rules or continue to use their freakish hybrid of GAAP and government accounting that they make up each and every year. Perhaps convergence will mean throwing in some IFRS into their 300+ page financial accounting manual.
Looks like Hans is going to have his hands full for the foreseeable future. Veel geluk met dat!