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IASB Picks New U.S. Member

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November 16, 2012

In what may be an olive branch to U.S. accountants worried about losing influence on the International Accounting Standards Board, the IASB has named a new member from the U.S. to replace a departing one.

On Thursday, the IASB named Mary Tokar, the global leader of KPMG’s International Financial Reporting Group, as the replacement for Paul Pacter. Tokar will serve for an initial term ending June 30, 2017, but her term can be renewed for an extra three years after that. She will be joining the IASB next January.

Tokar has served for over a decade at KPMG, and is credited with leading the firm’s dialogue with the global accounting regulatory and standard-setting communities, so she should have a lot of familiarity with the IASB. Another plus is that she has significant experience in applying International Financial Reporting Standards in both developed and emerging economies, having worked with KPMG engagement teams and clients around the world in their transition to and application of IFRS, according to the IASB. 

Mary Tokar

She also served as a member of the IFRS Interpretations Committee between 2001 and 2007 and is a KPMG global leader in the fields of employee benefits and share-based payments.

Previously, Tokar worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission as senior associate chief accountant, international, in the Office of the Chief Accountant. At the SEC she was the lead SEC representative for international accounting issues, and she chaired an international committee of securities regulators working on disclosure and accounting issues for the International Organization of Securities Commissions. She is also a New York State CPA.

To be sure, the IASB is nevertheless moving to a more multilateral approach to setting international standards, as its relationship with the U.S. has frayed over the course of its decade-long effort to converge IFRS with U.S. GAAP. Instead of consulting mostly with the U.S. on the convergence process, it is moving to establish a new Accounting Standards Advisory Forum that will include about a dozen national and regional standard-setters (see FASB Expected to Participate in New IASB Accounting Standards Group). The IASB’s parent organization, the IFRS Foundation, also said Thursday that it was establishing its first regional office outside its London headquarters, picking Tokyo as the locale for a new Asia-Oceania office (see IFRS Foundation Opens New Asia-Oceania Regional Office).

However, despite the growing impatience—particularly in Europe—with the SEC’s long-delayed decision on whether or not to incorporate IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting system, the IASB is not making good on veiled threats to replace its long-serving U.S. board member, Pacter, with someone from outside the U.S. (see U.S. Losing Most Favored Nation Status with International Accounting Standards). Tokar will be joining two other U.S. members of the IASB, Patrick Finnegan and Patricia McConnell, although their terms both end in June 2014.

For a while, at least, there will continue to be three U.S. members on the IASB. IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst was gracious in welcoming Tokar to the board.

“Mary brings a wealth of experience in the implementation of IFRS around the world,” Hoogervorst said in a statement. “She is an excellent choice to follow in the footsteps of Paul Pacter, who will be retiring from the board at the end of the year. I very much admire her straight-talking, no-nonsense approach when discussing financial reporting issues and I look forward to the immense contribution that I have no doubt she will bring to our discussions.”

Tokar indicated in her statement that she is a big believer in IFRS. “I am a strong believer in global accounting standards and have spent more than 10 years working with companies around the world adopting and applying IFRS,” she said. “I very much look forward to helping shape the future direction of the standards and supporting those remaining economies in their transition to IFRS.”

It's not hard to guess which economy is the biggest remaining one on the agenda, though the U.S. is not the only holdout.

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