Global Accounting Standards Inevitable, Says IASB's Mackintosh

Global accounting standards are "both desirable, achievable and in my view, inevitable," said IASB Vice-Chairman, Ian Mackintosh who gave a speech at the IFRS Foundation conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

"I believe that we should not fret too much about the timing by which we get every jurisdiction onto global standards. To quote Paul Volcker, legendary Chairman of the US Federal Reserve and the first Chairman of our Trustees, 'Ultimately, this will get done'," says Mackintosh.

Mackintosh noted that 81% of countries surveyed mandate the use of IFRS for all or most public companies and that most of the remaining countries that have yet to require the use of IFRS for domestic purposes — including India, Japan, China and the United States—already allow its use in certain circumstances.

He stressed that the IASB's high-quality Standards have been "validated" by more than a decade of use in various economies.

Mackintosh also stressed that convergence cannot be a substitute for adoption and that the 'structural fault' of convergence is that independent boards have different imperatives—the FASB prioritizes feedback from US constituents while the IASB weighs feedback from around the world including the US—leading the boards to reach incompatible conclusions.

"These are the reasons why full convergence can probably never be achieved, and why adoption of IFRS is the only viable approach to achieving global accounting standards," says Mackintosh.

Mackintosh added that globalization will occur when countries have enough confidence in the IASB's processes, judgement and outreach activities.

He reiterated his opinion that global standards are achievable and an inevitable consequence of continued economic globalization.