Taking a big step toward erecting a stronger foundation beneath the world's accounting standards, the International Accounting Standards Board and the Financial Accounting Standards Board recently issued a joint document suggesting a more clearly defined objective of financial reporting, and more clearly delineated qualitative characteristics of decision-useful financial information.The preliminary views document, the result of Phase A of the boards' conceptual framework project, eliminates small but crucial differences in the basic building blocks of the accounting principles promulgated by the boards. Decisions at this fundamental level will ripple through accounting principles established over the course of decades, and could necessitate amendments to current standards.

Rebecca McEnally, vice president of advocacy at the CFA Institute, expressed strong support for the framework project, but was reluctant to predict how these first chapters would affect the rest of the framework and the standards derived from it.

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