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Further Down the IFRS Rabbit Hole: 2010’s New Hires

While academia and the accounting industry remain largely unprepared for the transition to IFRS, there is a new expectation on the classes of 2010, 2011 and beyond to be prepared despite lack of a decent opportunity at being prepped by college curriculum.

In a side note to this December 2008 Journal of Accountancy article on IFRS in the classroom, JofA writer Kim Nilsen points out that large firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers will be expecting today’s sophomores to have a fundamental knowledge of IFRS financial statements fresh out of school.

As the economic constriction in our country and the world tightens around new hire opportunities, it appears as though the sophomores will have to figure out much of it on their own.

Fraud Files blogger Tracy Coenen expressed concern in June that unqualified (read: unexperienced) professors may feel pressure to bring IFRS coursework into their curriculum without a basic understanding of what exactly it is that they are teaching.

“To prepare the U.S. industry, the content specifications of the Uniform CPA Examination should be updated to include IFRS to incentivize colleges and universities to begin the augmentation of curricula for future students, and IFRS-based continuing education should be developed for U.S. firms,” says NASBA Senior VP Ken Bishop.

Firms have already made the jump, with the Big 4 doing their part to infuse IFRS in college curriculum. But for today’s sophomore, a new hire offer may seem a long way off and IFRS coursework sadly under-represented in accounting programs across the country.

Because IFRS relies heavily on principles-based judgments as opposed to GAAP’s definitive rules-based system, it is not just the curriculum but the way in which accounting students are taught that will have to change. IFRS is a lot less focused on research. You dont have to go through volumes to get the right answers,” says D.J. Gannon, head of Deloittes IFRS Center of Excellence. “Its much more of a thinking exercise. We have to make sure those types of messages flow through the universities.

Your best bet as a college student is to go find the education yourself. If an industry giant like PwC sets the precedent by placing an expectation on 2010’s new hires to have IFRS knowledge upon leaving college, you better believe smaller firms will follow the trend. Find out what your school’s accounting department plans to offer and get on board as early as possible.

While any changes to the CPA exam in regards to IFRS content are thus far still under review and discussion by the AICPA, BOE, and NASBA, we’re not talking about CPA licensure here. We’re talking about your career after college and the skills that will be expected you have before you shake that first recruiter’s hand.

So has your school begun offering IFRS coursework? Any rumors of recruiters requiring IFRS-readiness from the December grads? Let us know!