A new academic study takes issue with claims that U.S. companies would benefit from adopting International Financial Reporting Standards.
The study finds that the high-quality accounting infrastructure already in place for U.S. GAAP would likely see little upside from a transition to IFRS, as envisioned by the SECs proposed roadmap, which the new SEC commissioner has not yet approved.
U.S. GAAP and IFRS have been converging in recent years as the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board work together on developing and revising various standards. One of the professors who wrote the study, Rodrigo Verdi of MITs Sloan School of Management, disputed the notion that the U.S. would be at a disadvantage if it did not adopt IFRS wholesale.
In countries like the U.S., there may be minimal room for improvement because U.S. GAAP is already considered a high-quality accounting regime, he said.
He added that while some argue that adopting IFRS in the U.S. would make it easier for investors to compare firms with those in other countries and decrease the cost of reconciliations, the study discovered weak evidence of any comparability benefits. Verdi and his co-authors found countries that gain the most from following IFRS are those with pre-existing enforcement institutions and those that are significantly changing their financial reporting policy with convergence.
This is an area where more research will occur, but as of now there is no general agreement as to how large this type of benefit could be, said Verdi. The adoption of IFRS is a hot topic and it will take a few more years to get a full understanding of the long-term consequences.
Verdi collaborated on the study, Mandatory IFRS Reporting around the World: Early Evidence on the Economic Consequences, with three other professors: Luzi Hail of the University of Pennsylvanias Wharton School of Business, Christian Leuz of the University of Chicagos Booth School of Business, and Holger Daske of the University of Mannheim, Germany. The study is one of the first to examine the economic impact of IFRS on some of the over 100 countries that have moved to adopt it so far.
The study can be found at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1024240.
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