The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to hold the first of two roundtable discussions on mark-to-market accounting and current market conditions on Wed., Oct. 29, at 9 am ET.

The roundtables will provide input to the SEC as part of a congressionally mandated study included in the financial rescue bill (see SEC Begins Mark-to-Market Study). The SEC said the date and time of the second roundtable will be announced at a later date.

"These roundtables will provide the commission with valuable insights from investors, issuers, and others affected by recent developments in the marketplace," said SEC Chief Accountant Conrad Hewitt in a statement. "We are interested in hearing participants' views on transparency and usefulness of reported financial information in times of market turmoil."

The first roundtable will consist of two panels. The first panel will discuss the interaction between mark-to-market accounting for financial institutions and the current economic situation. The second panel will focus on potential improvements to the current accounting model and the implications of possible changes.

The panels will include investors, accountants, standard-setters, regulators, business leaders, and other interested parties. Representatives from the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the International Accounting Standards Board and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board will be present as observers.

The panel discussions will focus on the effects of mark-to-market accounting on financial reporting by financial institutions; potential market behavior effects from mark-to-market accounting; the usefulness of mark-to-market accounting to investors and regulators; and aspects of the current accounting standards that can be improved.

Comments can be submitted electronically to the SEC via an Internet comment form, or an e-mail message to with File Number 4-573 on the subject line. The comments are being publicly posted online.

The roundtable is expected to be webcast at the SEC Web site,

Meanwhile, the IASC’s oversight body, the International Federation of Accountants, came out in a strongly worded statement against the suspension of fair value and mark-to-market accounting standards.

“While accepting the value of moving rapidly to remove differences in the application of fair value accounting in different jurisdictions, IFAC strongly opposes attempts to change more radically, or to suspend, the use of fair value accounting without adequate due process,” said the group. “In particular, IFAC considers that making changes at a national or regional level that exacerbate reporting differences would serve to further confuse financial markets and would result in a reduction of confidence in financial reporting - exactly the opposite of what is required in current circumstances.”

“Reducing transparency is not the answer, and it will not serve the interests of investors,” said IFAC president Fermín del Valle in a statement. 

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