The real value of bank holdings has been generating controversy in the accounting profession as banks find themselves under increasing pressure to be more upfront about the true value of their assets, assuming they can be accurately valued, even with ballpark estimates.

Mark Olson, chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, told the Institute of International Bankers this week about some of the challenges of fair value accounting. According to his published remarks, he said, "determining fair value requires training, and many auditors may not have extensive training in valuation techniques." Financial statement preparers can also be biased in their assessment of fair value, so auditors have to make sure that preparers have considered some alternative valuation scenarios.

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