IFRS – Time to Panic?

IFRS is a ticking time bomb!In recent months the focus of discussions related to adoption of the International  Financial Reporting Standards have centered on differences with US GAAP (such as LIFO inventory), timing and implementation. I don’t want to debate the necessity of adopting a world standard given our weakening  influence over the world economy, or the esoteric benefits or detriments.  My concerns are much more basic. Without tort reform in the United States, IFRS is a time bomb with a very short fuse resulting in a cataclysmic disaster waiting to happen.

Currently, US GAAP is a rules based set of standards. While the end result of their application frequently results in worthless unsupportable financial reporting, the issuer and their auditor have but to point to the ‘rules’ in defense. On the other hand, IFRS is principles based, and simpler to apply.  But it can and frequently does require the issuer and his auditor to exercise judgment.  Judgment that can be questioned, criticized and  litigated.

Please don’t misunderstand.  Professionally in my opinion the quality of financial reporting will be significantly improved by the application of sound principles. IFRS is long overdue. Without liability reform, however, I fear financial reporting and assurance services will quickly follow the health care industry in terms of cost to the providers.

Maybe I’m just paranoid in my advancing years.

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