Hans Hoogervorst has been reappointed Chair of the IASB for a second five-year term. He was first appointed Chair in 2010, succeeding Sir David Tweedie. However his Vice-Chair Ian Mackintosh has not sought reappointment and therefore there will be some changes to the structure at the top of the IASB. Mr Hoogervorst's second term begins on 1st July 2016 whilst Mr Mackintosh's ends on 30th June.
These are of course significant changes to the leadership and come at a time when the structure of the Board as a whole is under review. It may be the case that the IASB uses this opportunity to take stock of the current situation and consider whether the current structure is the most appropriate for the challenges facing the IASB at the current time. Indeed the IFRS Foundation has confirmed that such a process is already in train.

There have been significant changes to the IFRS regime during the previous five-year period. Some crucial new Standards have been issued such as IFRS 9 on Financial Instruments, IFRS 15 on Revenue from Contracts with Customers and the potentially radical IFRS 16 on Leases which postulates some fundamental changes to the way in which leases are dealt with 'on' or 'off-balance sheet'. These are all potentially significant changes to technical accounting areas.

Similarly there has been an increase in the international take-up of IFRS both in their fully fledged form and in the form of IFRS for SMEs. Recent blogs have highlighted the increased interest from major economies such as China and Japan as well as India and this is an important step down the road towards more globalised use of IFRSs. But outstanding and challenging issues still remain.

The ongoing issue that needs to be addressed is that of increased integration between US GAAP and IFRS. A recent PWC publication 1* entitled IFRS and US GAAP: similarities and differences discusses some of the gaps that remain between the two bases of financial reporting. In this James Schnurr, Chief Accountant of the SEC's Office of the Chief Accountant, opined that there is little support for the idea that the SEC should insist that domestic US companies should use IFRS as the basis for their financial reporting, although he did concede that the process of further globalisation needs to remain on the agenda and discussions need to continue. So in other words significant barriers still need to be addressed.

This ongoing process of discussion forms a significant backdrop to Mr Hoogervorst's next five-year term. On the one hand, the time that it has taken to get this far suggests perhaps that it is unlikely that a definitive breakthrough is probable even during the next five years. Yet the momentum somehow has to be maintained. Convergence needs to be seen as a long game where, to use the well-known maxim, 'slow and steady wins the race' is likely to be the predominant philosophy. This is likely to be a key target of the IASB's next five-year planning period. A sure set of hands backed up with a clear sense of focus and perseverance is likely to be required. Mr Hoogervorst needs a generous helping of luck and support to back up his undoubted skills to face the challenge that awaits.