PwC CEO Would Scrap U.S. GAAP For Global Principles

By John S. McClenahen The net effect of new corporate financial reporting principles being advocated by Samuel A. DiPiazza Jr., CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers, would be a write-off of rules-based U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and adoption of broader global guidelines similar to existing International Accounting Standards (IAS). For years, defenders of U.S. GAAP have argued that they are the best in the world, but recent U.S. corporate financial scandals have called that claim into question. Meanwhile, the 15-nation European Union is moving toward adopting IAS by 2005. A set of global principles "is the best foundation for making financial reporting more relevant to investors," DiPiazza told a National Press Club audience in Washington, D.C., this week. "It assigns responsibility to management to select the most appropriate accounting methods to reflect the economics of the transaction, not just those accounting methods dictated by narrow rules." In contrast, "the current U.S. GAAP begins with a principle but then moves to dozens and dozens of rules and exceptions, all designed to appease somebody out there in the market," said DiPiazza. "Let's move back to principles and force management to be held accountable for their decisions and auditors for their judgments." In addition to a set of global principles, DiPiazza advocates the creation of industry-specific measuring and reporting standards -- which could be developed by trade associations -- and establishment of guidelines for reporting individual company performance measures.

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