By Richard Martin, head of financial reporting, ACCA
After a year of searching, the IASB has finally found a replacement for Sir David Tweedie.
Dutchman Hans Hoogervorst, currently the Dutch financial markets regulator, will be filling the Scotsman's shoes; bookies' favourite for Tweedie's job, and current UK Accounting Standards Board chair, Ian Mackintosh will be Hoogervorst's deputy.
These appointments hint at a new IASB approach. Hoogervorst isn't a qualified accountant – Messrs Mackintosh and Tweedie are – but this isn't a problem. A former regulator and politician, Hoogervorst is presumably the kind of guy the IASB think they need over the next period. With Hoogervorst focusing on the tricky political side of things, Mackintosh will be keeping an eye on the technical agenda.
Sir David made a big impact in his role as chair, and was very much the public face of the IASB even if he was not always an acceptable one to some parties. Without him, the IASB is embarking on a new era.
The dominant theme of the IASB's work under Tweedie was US-IFRS convergence, and, if the SEC doesn't give a clear commitment to IFRS in 2011, the Hoogervorst helmed IASB will probably find its priorities dominated by other things. What these ‘other things' are will be a key decision for Hoogervorst.
New priorities for the IASB should focus on maintaining the IFRS system, and only making changes that can be justified by an evidence-based agenda. Issues that the IASB could address include:
- Gaps in the standards relating to emissions trading, mining, and insurance
- Major failures in existing standards (if any)
- Opportunities to eliminate complexity
Hoogervorst's appointment isn't the answer to the challenges that currently confront the IASB, but it will eventually tell us what kind of answer we should expect.