Gauging the Impact of Combining GAAP and IFRS


Globalization, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and the economic crisis of the Great Recession have fueled the push for convergence between the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This article explores the consequences of combining GAAP and IFRS, highlighting the impact on various stakeholders and the quality of financial standards.

Key Takeaways

  1. Methodology Differences between GAAP and IFRS:
    • GAAP: Rules-based approach
    • IFRS: Principles-based approach
    • Challenges arise in areas such as consolidation, income statements, inventory, EPS calculation, and development costs.
  2. Control vs. Risk-and-Reward Model:
    • IFRS favors a control model.
    • U.S. GAAP prefers a risk-and-reward model.
  3. Financial Reporting Challenges:
    • Varying financial reporting standards across countries lead to inconsistencies.
    • Investors face difficulties when evaluating capital-seeking companies operating under different accounting standards.

New Accounting Standards Impact

The convergence of accounting and reporting standards at the international level impacts several stakeholders, including:

  1. Corporate Management:
    • Simpler, streamlined standards benefit corporate management globally.
    • Easier access to capital, lower risk, and reduced costs of doing business.
  2. Investors:
    • Adaptation to new standards is necessary for understanding financial reports.
    • Increased credibility and simplified information, avoiding conversion to country-specific standards.
    • Facilitates international capital flow.
  3. Stock Markets:
    • Reduced costs for entering foreign exchanges.
    • Consistent rules and standards enhance international competitiveness for investment opportunities.
  4. Accounting Professionals:
    • Transition to internationally accepted standards requires learning and adapting.
    • Promotes consistency in accounting practices.
  5. Accounting Standards Setters:
    • Convergence simplifies the development and implementation of new international standards.
    • Eliminates reliance on agencies for standard ratification.

Convergence Pros and Cons

Arguments for convergence:

  • Clarity, simplification, transparency, and comparability in accounting and financial reporting.
  • Increased capital flow, reduced interest rates, and economic growth.
  • Timely and uniform information availability.
  • Prevention of economic and financial meltdowns.

Arguments against convergence:

  • Cultural, ethical, economic, and political differences between nations.
  • Time-consuming implementation of new accounting rules and standards.

Quality of Financial Standards

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) aims to achieve fair, liquid, and efficient capital markets. Pursuing this goal involves upholding domestic financial reporting quality and encouraging convergence between U.S. and IFRS standards.

Research indicates that firms applying international standards demonstrate:

  • Higher variance of net income changes and change in cash flows.
  • Lower negative correlation between accruals and cash flows.
  • Fewer earnings management, more timely loss recognition, and higher value relevance in accounting amounts compared to U.S. firms following GAAP.

Opposition and Acceptance

Resistance to convergence arises from accounting professionals, corporate management, and various stakeholders. The new standards must ensure transparency, full disclosure, and broad acceptance, similar to U.S. standards.


The convergence of GAAP and IFRS carries significant implications for accounting diversity and stakeholders. While challenges and resistance persist, the harmonization of accounting standards holds the potential to enhance financial reporting quality, streamline practices, and foster global economic growth.

For additional reading, refer to the following resources:

Websites and Online Resources:

  1. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB): Convergence and International Activities
  2. International Accounting Standards Board (IASB): IFRS and the United States


  1. “Convergence of Accounting Standards: Lessons from the United States and the European Union” by Michael Hommel and Michael K. Malik
  2. “International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS): A Framework-Based Perspective” by Abbas A. Mirza and Magnus Orrell

Academic Journals and Research Papers:

  1. “The Impact of IFRS Convergence on the Quality of Accounting Information: Evidence from the European Union” – Journal of International Accounting Research
  2. “The Impact of Convergence between International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) on Accounting Quality” – Journal of Accounting and Public Policy

Reports and Studies:

  1. World Bank Group Report: Accounting Standards and International Portfolio Holdings
  2. Deloitte Report: Global IFRS Banking Survey

Professional Organizations and Associations:

  1. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA): IFRS Resource Center
  2. Institute of Management Accountants (IMA): IFRS Implementation and Compliance

CPA Attitudes: Cultural and Professional Factors

Cultural differences and existing familiarity with U.S. standards contribute to the resistance of embracing convergence. Key factors include:

  1. Culture and Accounting Systems:
    • Culture shapes societal norms and values, influencing accounting practices.
    • Accounting value dimensions based on culture include professionalism vs. statutory control, uniformity vs. conformity, conservatism vs. optimism, and secrecy vs. transparency.
  2. Impact of Cultural Differences:
    • Cultural variations strongly affect accounting standards of different nations, making convergence complex.
    • U.S. professionals perceive principles-based IFRS as lacking guidance compared to rules-based GAAP, leading to resistance.

CFO Attitudes: Costs and Perception

CFOs show reluctance towards convergence due to associated costs and perception issues. Key considerations include:

  1. Financial Reporting and Internal Control Systems:
    • Transition to IFRS impacts a company’s financial reporting and internal control systems, leading to increased costs.
    • Public perception of the integrity of the new standards must be addressed.
  2. Differences in Accounting Practices:
    • Variances in income statement presentation, inventory valuation, EPS calculation, and treatment of developmental costs between IFRS and GAAP complicate convergence.

FASB’s Role and Convergence Process

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) plays a crucial role in the convergence process and compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Key points include:

  1. SEC Investigation and Feasibility:
    • SOX requires the SEC to explore the feasibility of adopting a principles-based approach, necessitating continued compliance with SOX during convergence.
  2. Convergence Projects and Categorization:
    • FASB and IFRS have identified short- and long-term convergence projects to address differences.
    • FASB clarifies GAAP by categorizing standards in descending order of authority.
  3. Benefits of Convergence:
    • Convergence aims to develop high-quality, common standards and improve financial information for stakeholders.

Issues and Concerns with GAAP and IFRS

Issues arise due to differences in approaches between GAAP and IFRS. Key considerations include:

  1. Dynamic Nature of IFRS:
    • IFRS is continuously revised to adapt to the changing financial environment, posing challenges for convergence.
  2. Implementation of Principle-based Standards:
    • FASB expresses concern about applying and implementing principle-based standards in the U.S.
    • Suggestions include accepting some FASB standards within IFRS to meet the needs of U.S. constituents.


The convergence of GAAP and IFRS in the U.S. faces challenges related to cultural differences, costs, and differing accounting approaches. Further study is needed to understand the factors influencing the development of accounting systems. Company boards should contribute to the convergence process by adopting new jointly developed standards to serve investor needs effectively.

Resources on Convergence of U.S. GAAP and IFRS Standards

Websites and Online Resources:

  1. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) – The official website of FASB provides comprehensive information on U.S. GAAP, its convergence efforts with IFRS, and updates on current projects. Visit the FASB website at
  2. International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) – The IASB website offers valuable insights into IFRS standards, convergence initiatives, and global accounting practices. Explore the IASB website at


  1. “Convergence Guidebook for Corporate Financial Reporting” by Bruce Pounder – This book offers a comprehensive guide to understanding the convergence process between U.S. GAAP and IFRS standards. It explores the challenges, impacts, and benefits of convergence. Link to book
  2. “International Financial Reporting Standards: A Practical Guide” by Hennie van Greuning, Darrel Scott, and Philippe Danjou – This practical guide provides an overview of IFRS standards and their implementation, including insights into the convergence efforts. Link to book

Academic Journals and Research Papers:

  1. “The Impact of Convergence Between IFRS and U.S. GAAP on Financial Reporting Quality: Evidence from Firms Cross-Listed in the U.S.” by Katsuo Oshima and Nobuo Kobayashi – This academic paper examines the effects of convergence on the financial reporting quality of firms cross-listed in the U.S. Link to paper
  2. “An Analysis of CFOs’ Perceptions of IFRS in the U.S. and the Convergence of U.S. GAAP and IFRS” by Reza Espahbodi, Hai Lin, and Jiun-Lin Lee – This research paper explores CFOs’ attitudes towards IFRS and the challenges associated with the convergence of U.S. GAAP and IFRS. Link to paper

Reports and Studies:

  1. “Convergence to IFRS: An Overview of the Benefits, Challenges, and Institutional Arrangements” by World Bank Group – This report provides an overview of the benefits, challenges, and institutional arrangements associated with the convergence of accounting standards. Link to report
  2. “The Impact of Convergence of IFRS and U.S. GAAP on Key Financial Ratios” by Deloitte – This study analyzes the potential impacts of convergence on key financial ratios and financial performance measures. Link to study

Professional Organizations and Associations:

  1. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) – AICPA provides resources and insights on accounting standards, including information on the convergence of U.S. GAAP and IFRS. Visit the AICPA website at
  2. International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) – IFAC offers publications and resources on global accounting standards, convergence efforts, and the implications for the profession. Explore the IFAC website at

These resources offer authoritative information and valuable insights for readers seeking further information on the convergence of U.S. GAAP and IFRS standards.