Postcard from the AICPA Conference: First in a Series

Audit|Public Companies

By Kurt Herdman

The AICPA Conference on current SEC and PCAOB Developments kicked off this morning in Washington D.C., and my colleague Kimberly James and I had the privilege of attending today’s sessions where some of the key individuals in the accounting profession have presented.  One of the first speakers, Cindy Fornelli, Executive Director of the Center for Audit Quality, used the words of the great Vince Lombardi, “Perfection is not attainable.  But if we chase perfection, we catch excellence,” which I thought was a great way to frame the day’s discussion.  Ultimately, the accounting profession, and its standard-setting bodies, is continuously changing and evolving as we aim to catch reporting excellence, to meet the demanding needs of our capital markets.

One of the keynote speakers, James Schnurr, Chief Accountant of the SEC, addressed the attendees regarding his views of IFRS, which initially made headlines in the Wall Street Journal in early November.  His belief is that uncertainty regarding the SEC’s decision regarding IFRS is leading to unease in the global investing community.  He also stressed that he does not have any predetermined approach in mind, but that he is looking to refresh the dialogue.    Mr. Schnurr suggested that one possible approach would be to allow domestic registrants to voluntarily disclose IFRS supplemental information.

The other keynote speaker of the morning was SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher.  Mr. Gallagher expressed his concern over the response to the past financial crisis, and what effect the efforts, most notably the Dodd-Frank Act, have had to prevent a future crisis.  He expressed his belief that the Dodd-Frank Act is overly intrusive, making implementation near impossible for the SEC, highlighted by the fact that there are 55 provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that are left to implement.  Further, he suggested that certain reporting requirements, such as the pay-ratio and conflict minerals reporting provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act are intrusive requirements.

It was been a great first day of the conference, and we are looking forward to tomorrow’s presenters which include both the FASB and IASB chairmen.

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