Chief financial officers and investors have increased their support for global accounting standards since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, according to an international survey published Thursday by the global Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
The report, Towards Greater Convergence, found evidence from the 163 interviewed CFOs and investors across the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle-East that International Financial Reporting Standards could prove beneficial for audit, corporate governance and non-financial reporting.
The report’s publication coincided with the 28th session of UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting in Geneva.
“The growing support amongst CFOs and investors for global standards must be considered carefully by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as it considers its decision about whether the US should adopt IFRS,” said Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA, in a statement. “We believe a positive answer from the SEC would give a tremendous boost to the cause of financial reporting and more importantly the world economy.”
Respondents reported less resistance to global standards as they become more familiar. More than 40 percent said that IFRS has improved access to capital and around a quarter said adoption has lowered capital costs.
ACCA reported that the IFRS benefits of accurate cross-border comparisons will only be maximized if “carve outs” of standards by governments and other national add-ons to rules and regulations are kept at a minimum.
“It is essential that national policymakers resist as far as possible the temptation to include issues which may be important in their countries but which, when aggregated, will threaten the integrity of the international regime,” Brand said. “Global standards need to be just that – global.”
Other findings of the Towards Greater Convergence report reveal:
• The financial crisis improved the perception of global standards among investors and issuers, with 52 percent reporting a more positive view after the economic crisis than in the last few years.
• International standards are seen as facilitators of more consistent regulation by 60 percent of respondents.
• Investors see more benefit to global auditing standards than CFOs, of whom 27 percent responded favorably and 49 percent see little or no benefit. On the other hand, 44 percent of investors responded in the affirmative and 30 percent did not.
• 37 percent of CFOs said they believe standards will improve non-financial reporting on corporate social responsibility and environmental risk and 9 percent disagreed.
• 70 percent of CFOs and investors believe standards will encourage more long-term thinking in the boardroom.
• Two-thirds of respondents find benefits in integrated reporting, with 39 percent seeing that manifest in better decision-making and 28 percent envisioning a more accurate picture of overall performance.
“While ACCA has long supported global standards - we were the first major body to qualify accountants in IFRS – we also believe in evidence-based policy, which is why we commissioned this independent research. I am pleased to see that key stakeholders in the financial reporting process such as investors and CFOs are increasingly showing support,” Brand stated.
The full report is available here.
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