On IFRS and Accounting Education in the U.S.

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Following Monday's post on the transition to IFRS, I found this piece in CFO.com, which raises an interesting point. Even if the financial industry as a whole will benefit from the transition and audit firms and other professionals who are currently in the field are preparing to make the changes, that doesn't mean the next generation of accountants will be ready.


U.S. schools don't currently teach IFRS. And according to CFO.com, many of them are waiting until the Securities and Exchange Commission issues an effective date for IFRS compliance before they worry about including it in their curricula:

Over the last 10 years, accounting faculty has declined by 13 percent..., according to a survey conducted by the American Accounting Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.... What's more, said [the president-elect of the American Accounting Association, Sue] Haka, the average age of accounting professors is 56, and this older group may decide to retire rather than figure out how to teach two different accounting systems...

But that's only part of the problem. It takes three years to publish new textbooks, the story says, and publishers won't even begin the process until they see a demand for those new books. And even then, writer Marie Leone asks, who will write the books or teach them?


Moreover, as Haka, who is also a Michigan State accounting professor notes, curricula are largely driven by what's on the national CPA exam, and there is often very little room for electives. So until IFRS is included on that exam, there's little hope that curricula will change.